Did you know: Ireland’s history is NOT confined to museums. In fact, we’ve got entire towns dedicated to displaying their history on their sleeve. We call them Heritage Towns, and there exists not one, not two, but 27 of these wonderful hives of living history.
They include Cahir, close neighbor to the Rock of Cashel and home to an island castle, former residence of the Butler Family and sitting pretty on the River Suir. Then there’s Dalkey, a tiny Dublin seaside village known to Bono, Beckett and Binchy and home to an intimate and engaging Anglo-Saxon experience.
Down on Cork’s seaside, Cobh was Titanic’s last stop before her tragic final journey, while on the east, Trim’s castle (featured in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart) is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. Its location on the Boyne River in the Boyne Valley ties it to some of the most momentous moments in Ireland’s history and its myths.
But you don’t want to just READ about Irish Heritage Towns. You want to visit them.
You can get the full list nicely mapped out here, along with plenty of inspiration to help you pick the places you most want to see.
If only history had been this exciting in school…
Want to hear about the history on hand in Northern Ireland, too?
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Heritage Towns in Northern Ireland
There are no specifically designated heritage towns in Northern Ireland, but don’t let that fool you: the history here is as epic as any Game of Thrones episode filmed on the same shores.
Think of Belfast, Titanic’s hometown (the epic Titanic Belfast tells the story better with aplomb), or Derry-Londonderry, home to some of the most beautiful (and intact) city walls in Europe. In Fermanagh, Enniskillen Castle is a riverside beauty, telling stirring military tales that will make your hair stand on end.
Over in County Tyrone, the Ulster American Folk Park is a lively taste of times past where buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries and an Emigration Centre are a must for anyone who’s family once left this beautiful part of the world.
Get acquainted with Northern Ireland here.