If Ireland is on your list of places to visit in the near future, you’ll want to know about these 4 new and updated attractions that are sure to appeal to anyone with an interest in Irish culture.
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Saint Patrick Experiences, Downpatrick, Co. Down
Most anyone who has a vague understanding of Ireland knows that St. Patrick is its patron saint.
But how much do you know about this former slave?
Historians agree that St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain (present-day Cumbria in northwest England).
He came to Ireland after being captured by pirates and spent six years as a slave, which is when his interest in Christianity emerged.
One of the places closely associated with Patrick (and there are several in Ireland where he is said to have visited), is Saul near Downpatrick in Co. Down.
It is here that Patrick founded his first church.
There are a number of new experiences available from The St. Patrick Centre that will help you trace the journey of St. Patrick.
They include the following:
- Saint Patrick’s Way – Downpatrick Camino & Lunch – this is a full-day guided trek (or you could do it over 2 half-days) that will have you walking in St. Patrick’s footsteps as you explore the stunning countryside, as well as visiting important sites integral to Patrick’s story. The tour starts at the center. Lunch at The Barn Bar & Country Kitchen in Saul is included.
Highlights: Largest statue of St. Patrick in the world; Inch Abbey; St. Patrick’s first church.
Price: £65 per person (full day); £40 per person (half-day morning); £45 per person (half-day afternoon). Cost includes lunch, the Pilgrim’s Passport, and St. Patrick’s Way vest).
Difficulty: High level of fitness needed for the approximate 18-mile full-day trek (28 km).
- St. Patrick’s Way, Newcastle – this 8-mile (13 km) walk starts off at the Harbour House Inn in Newcastle and continues on a scenic journey in the shadow of Meelmore Mountain, part of the Mourne Mountain range.
Highlights: Tollymore Forest Park; Mourne walk and river trail; Newcastle by the sea.
Price: £45 per person (includes Pilgrim’s Passport, vest)
Difficulty: Moderate fitness required
- The Pilgrim’s Walk and Lunch in Irish for Everyone – take a 12-mile journey (19 km) and explore St. Patrick’s Way in both Irish and English with a bilingual guide.
Highlights: St. Patrick’s Exhibition in the Irish language; healing wells at Struell; the first church founded by St. Patrick; medieval town of Newcastle, and much more.
Price: £45 per person (includes Pilgrim Passport, vest, and lunch)
Difficulty: A good level of fitness is required for this 7- to 8-hour journey.
- Patrick and the Pagan Hills – this 6-mile (9.5 km) walk takes you through St. Patrick’s Country across a landscape of ancient monuments and other sites associated with the saint.
Highlights: Lough Money, where Patrick landed in 432 A.D; St. Tassach’s Church; Neolithic monuments, and more.
Price: £65 per person (includes packed lunch and vest)
Difficulty: Moderate fitness level required.
- Saint Patrick’s Coastal Camino – travel to Ballyhornan Beach for a spectacular 7-mile (11 km) coastal walk.
Highlights: St. Patrick’s Well by the sea; Ardtole Church; medieval port of Ardglass via Coney Island, and more.
Price: £65 (includes lunch, Pilgrim’s Passport, vest, and transfers)
- Saint Patrick’s Way Camino & Canoe Adventure – a whole day of walking and canoeing awaits in this epic 6-hour adventure.
Highlights: Inch Abbey and Quoile Pondange; St. Patrick’s first church at Saul; Saint Patrick’s Centre & Grave, and more.
Price: £65 (includes lunch, canoeing, and transfers)
Difficulty: Moderate fitness required.
Game of Thrones Studio Tour, Banbridge, Co. Down
This long-awaited tourist attraction, the only officially licensed Game of Thrones experience in the world, will no doubt delight fans of the popular HBO series.
Expect to see authentic, original set pieces, in addition to props, weapons, and more, all used in the making of the epic series.
The great hall of Winterfell serves as the centerpiece of the attraction, which is expected to open later this year.
Fans will be able to walk through the Winterfell set, in addition to the throne room at Dragonstone, Cersei’s courtyard in King’s Landing, and the mess room at Castle Black.
The attraction is set to open in February 2022.
Irish Racehorse Experience, Irish National Stud & Gardens, Co. Kildare
You’ll discover all about Ireland’s love affair with the horse and with horse racing at this unique museum located in Co. Kildare, less than an hour from Dublin.
The Irish Racehorse Experience is located at the Irish National Stud & Gardens and recounts the history and heritage of the Irish thoroughbred industry.
The interactive museum tells the evolution of a champion horse, from its birth to retirement. You can also take part in an interactive auction, purchase an unbroken yearling, learn about the kind of training that is involved, and experience the dynamic atmosphere of a race meeting.
Your experience will conclude in the Living Legend room, where you’ll be able to see retired horses grazing in the nearby paddock.
Brú na Bóinne Interpretive Centre
An upgrade to the Brú na Bóinne Interpretive Centre is a welcome addition to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The new exhibition center includes a full-scale replica of the Newgrange Stone Chamber constructed about 5,000 years ago, predating the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge.
On a guided tour, you will learn more about the inner chamber, where human bones and objects of religious significance were found. It has remained intact since its completion in 3,200 B.C.
You must get on a bus to the center before taking a tour of Newgrange and the other stone chambers Knowth and Dowth.
Would you visit any of the above-mentioned attractions in Ireland? Which ones might be your favorite? Let me know in the comments below.