Travel from Canada to Ireland is going from strength to strength, with the Emerald Isle welcoming 200,000 Canadian visitors in 2017. To mark St. Patrick's Day, we take a closer look at some of the best experiences on offer for travellers who wish to delve into Ireland.
Take in a game of hurling at Croke Park Dublin
Photo credit: Heather Cowper
The largest stadium in Europe that’s not used for soccer, Croke Park is a jewel in Dublin’s crown, proudly hosting Ireland’s two national sports of Gaelic football and hurling. The showpiece events this year will be held in August, with the 82,000-capacity stadium packed to the rafters for the All-Ireland football and hurling finals; Dublin is awash with colour during those weekends as natives of the participating counties flock to the city in droves to cheer on their team. It’s a great time of the year to visit and soak up a unique, emotional atmosphere. When games aren’t being played, tours of the stadium are available, while you can also walk across the stadium’s roof – providing an ideal opportunity for sweeping views of the Dublin skyline.
A scenic drive through Glenveagh National Park Donegal
Photo credit: Eddie Wong
Nestled in Ireland’s northwest corner, Donegal is truly a world apart – a county of breathtaking natural beauty, replete with rolling hills, a thriving culture (Irish is the first language in many parts) and the friendliest people in the country. Driving through the county is an unforgettable experience in itself, with the distinctive, irresistible smell of turf filling the air as you cross Glenveagh National Park and the unmistakeable peak of Mt. Errigal looming in the distance. This incredible experience is one of the many reasons National Geographic named Donegal the world’s coolest destination in 2016.
Get the Belfast experience Antrim
Photo credit: Nico Kaiser
Belfast has blossomed since the Troubles wound to a close in the late 1990s, with the city becoming a tourist hotspot thanks to its commercial growth and range of prominent attractions. Famous pubs in or near the city centre include the Duke of York and the Crown Bar, the latter of which featured in the classic film Odd Man Out; meanwhile, Titanic Belfast – a monument to the nearby Harland & Wolff shipyard, where the iconic ship was built – has received wide acclaim since its opening, and was named the world’s leading tourist attraction for 2016 at the World Travel Awards. The city is located just a two-hour drive from Dublin.
Visit a galaxy far, far away at Skellig Michael Kerry
Photo credit: Arnold Valentino
It’s instantly-recognizable these days as Luke Skywalker’s refuge in the latest Star Wars films, and has become a place of pilgrimage for series aficionados, but Skellig Michael is well worth visiting even for those who aren’t much enthused by the movies. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island is accessible via boat tour, with dive sites located off its coast and abundant wildlife, including 10 bird species, frequenting its rocky terrain. It’s a gruelling trek to the top, with its peak towering 714 ft. above sea level, but the scenery is always intriguing, from amazing views of the sea to well-preserved remnants of a sixth-century monastic settlement.
Traverse the Mourne Mountains Down
Photo credit: Richard Sunderland
The famous mountains, which stare imperiously over beautiful Co. Down, were immortalized in song by renowned Irish songwriter Percy French’s Mountains of Mourne, with Don MacLean and Charlie Landsborough performing noted renditions of the ballad. Slieve Donard is the best-known, and tallest, peak of the mountain range, having been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; its picturesque trails and mesmerizing vistas have made it one of the island’s most popular destinations for hiking enthusiasts. C.S. Lewis reportedly drew inspiration from its landscapes for his seminal Narnia series.