DAY 1: Ireland is known for being GREEN. Dublin is the capitol of Ireland. People there speak Irish and English. The Irish have a great affection for nature and rural life. The country's first coins even featured pictures of animals. There aren't a lot of big industries in Ireland so there is little pollution, making the country green and beautiful. Did you know that there are no wild snakes in Ireland? The sea has stopped many animals common on mainland Europe from reaching the island. There are also only two wild mouse species, one type of lizard, and just three kinds of amphibians. Irish wildlife is protected by government conservation programs. To preserve natural habitat, the government has established six national parks and hundreds of national heritage areas throughout the country. Everywhere you look you see green and more green.
DAY 2: The Doors of Dublin Dublin is the capitol of Ireland and offers tourist much to see. One of the first things tourists notice are the doors. Yes, the doors. In the 1700s, Dublin became a very prosperous city. As the city's affluence built, so did its elegant style of architecture. New chic Georgian homes were being developed which had strict architectural guidelines. At that time, each building maintained the same uniform look and lacked any originality --they were pretty plain. Eventually, residents began adding their own personal flair to their doors. Colorful painted doors with ornate knockers and elegant fanlights above the door was a result of this push for individuality.
Day 3: The Book of Kells Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland is the location of the celebrated Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a manuscript that contains the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in Latin. It is written on vellum (prepared calfskin), and is unbelievably decorated with colored ink and gold. The place of origin of the Book of Kells is generally attributed to the scriptorium of a monastery founded around the 500s on Iona, an island off the west coast of Scotland. In 806, following a Viking raid on the island, the Columban monks took refuge in a new monastery at Kells, County Meath. It must have been close to the year 800 that the Book of Kells was written, although there is no way of knowing if the book was created wholly at Iona or at Kells, or partially at each location. The Book of Kells is on display in the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin, and attracts over 500,000 visitors a year. Two volumes are on public view, one opened to display a major decorated page, and one to show two pages of script. One page is turned each day. The volumes are changed at regular intervals. The "Secret of the Kells" is an animated feature film that is about the Book of Kells. The animators are Irish and give the animation a definite Celtic look.
DAY 4: The Ruins of Ireland Located as it is on the western extremity of Europe and also being an island, Ireland was never conquered by the Romans, so many ancient remains have been preserved --in fact, they are everything dotting the landscape. Today we will look at some of the most famous ruins. Glendalough: Early monks apparently appreciated good scenery, as they tended to build in the very best beauty spots: wooded glens, lake islands and river bends. The natural beauty of these settings is in turn enhanced by the simple stone monastic buildings still standing. Glendalough is a good example of this – St Kevin’s hermitage and church was founded in the 6th century between two lakes.
Rock of Cashel The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland's most spectacular archaeological sites, a prominent green hill, banded with limestone outcrops of rock, rising from a grassy plain and bristling with ancient fortifications. Sturdy walls circle an enclosure containing a complete round tower, a 13th-century Gothic cathedral and the finest 12th-century Romanesque chapel in Ireland, home to some of the land's oldest frescoes. There's even the remains of an ancient monastery in the valley!
Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone The Blarney Stone is perched at the top of a steep climb up claustrophobic spiral staircases inside the ruins of Blarney Castle. On the battlements, you bend backwards over a long, long drop (with safety grill and attendant to prevent tragedy) to kiss the stone; as your shirt rides up, coachloads of onlookers stare up your nose. The custom of kissing the stone is a relatively modern one, but Blarney's association with smooth talking goes back a long time. Queen Elizabeth I is said to have invented the term 'to talk blarney' out of exasperation with Lord Blarney's ability to talk endlessly without ever actually agreeing to her demands. The famous stone aside, Blarney Castle itself is an impressive 16th-century tower set in gorgeous grounds.
DAY 5: Natural Wonders of the Emerald Isle The narrow roads of the Ring of Kerry offer some of the most seriously scenic views in Ireland. It's best to take your time driving the Ring of Kerry or the Ring of Beara and most visitors say the scenery is so breathtaking, it is hard to keep your eyes on the road --something you better do or you will fly off a cliff.
The Giant's Causeway The intriguing lunar landscape of the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim was Northern Ireland’s first World Heritage Site. It has to be seen to be believed. This stretch of rock is a geological phenomenon, renowned for its columns of layered basalt. It mystified the ancients who believed it to be the work of giant Finn McCool.