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Aran Inspired

National Botanic Gardens

>Next to Glasnevin cemetery on Dublin's northside, you can find the National Botanic Gardens, established in 1795 by the Royal Dublin Society. This Georgian-era park is FREE to enter (although there is a small fee for the car park) and is especially pleasant on a clear day. The gardens feature over 20,000 varieties of plants, flowers and trees, notably including a vegetable garden and a rose garden. Local wildlife -- ducks, squirrels and rabbits -- are also fond visitors. Located about 3km from Dublin city centre, the gardens are approximately 50 acres / 20 hectares  (equivalent to 50 soccer fields) in total size. A walkway leads directly into the adjoining Glasnevin Cemetery -- you may also enter directly via the cemetery. You don't need to walk through all of the gardens -- cris-crossing, tree-lined paths allow you to create different walking routes.

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St Stephen's Green

One of Dublin's most interesting outdoor attractions, this 27-acre parcel of public land remains lush and green throughout most of the year. The main entrance to the green is located at the gate facing Grafton Street, known as Fusilier's Gate. Strolling paths crisscross the acreage, and a variety of waterfowl nest here. Statues abound, including a bust of James Joyce sculpted by Henry Moore, and a memorial to Yeats. Also interesting and whimsical is a gathering of bronze female figures known as The Fates. On the north side of St. Stephen's Green is an area once known as Beaux Walk. In the 18th century, it was made up of a row of townhouses containing a group of highly popular gentleman's clubs. Today, the noted Shelbourne Hotel is located there.

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National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology

The historical and archaeological treasures of Ireland are housed in this extraordinary Victorian building. Admission is FREE to this wonderful attraction, which is capped by a beautiful, 62-foot high dome. The floor inside has a detailed mosaic of the zodiac. The museum itself was established in 1890. Over the last century and a half, it has accumulated treasures that range from Ireland's prehistoric times; through the Celtic and Gaelic eras of clans and chieftains; then the various medieval periods, including the Viking and Norman invasions; through modern Irish history and struggle for independence, up to the present day.

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City Hall, Belfast

Built in 1906, Belfast City Hall is situated at the centre of Belfast's city streets, on Donegall Square. City Hall is the most opulent public building in Belfast. It was designed by architect Brumwell Thomas, who modelled it after St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Public, guided tours of City Hall are FREE, and are available Monday to Saturday. The tours last for around an hour, and the guide explores the Hall and its connection to the wider history of Belfast City.

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Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park is a special place where visitors can experience the best of Irish culture, outdoor fun and glorious scenery all in one location. Once known as Bourne Vincent Memorial Park, this American gift to Ireland was originally an 11,000-acre parcel donated by Mr. and Mrs. Bowers Bourne of California U.S.A. in 1932. There are no operating hours or admission fees, but cars are not allowed. Visitors can walk, rent a bicycle, or the traditional jaunting car -- pony and cart to explore the grounds, which include a genuine manor house and a working farm. Although the park is dotted with ruined castles and abbeys, the lakes are the focus of attention. Of the three contained within the boundaries of the park, Muckross Lake, Upper Lake and Lough Leane, the latter is the largest.

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National Museum - Decorative Arts & History (Collins Barracks)

Built in 1704, Collins Barracks served as a military base for 290 years before becoming the Decorative Arts and History wing of the National Museum of Ireland. Today, admission is FREE to this popular attraction, consisting of thirteen exhibitions distributed around a central courtyard, where British and subsequently Irish soldiers once paraded. Pace markings, used to help army recruits learn drill movements, are still visible on the courtyard walls. The permanent exhibitions in the museum, listed below, display over 10,000 items of Irish culture, heritage and national history, with a focus on arts, design and military history. Visitors will find a nice café and gift shop on the site.

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Dublin City Gallery / The Hugh Lane Gallery

Contained in beautiful Charlemont House on Parnell Square, near O'Connell Street, the Hugh Lane Gallery is FREE to visit and houses one of Ireland's top collections of modern and contemporary art, with over 2000 works. Charlemont House is a magnificently restored 18th century mansion, beautiful both inside and out, which once belonged to the Earl of Charlemont. Named after Sir Hugh Percy Lane, an Irish art connoisseur who died in 1915, the museum famously exhibits the reconstructed studio of Francis Bacon (1909 - 1992), an Irish-born British artist. Opened in 1908 in Harcourt Street, the museum is renowned as being the world's first public gallery of contemporary art. Today, the Hugh Lane is situated just metres away from the Dublin Writers Museum.

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Donegal Historical Society Museum

Located in the Franciscan Friary in Rossnowlagh, this free museum contains a fine array of artefacts associated with County Donegal, from pre-historic times up to the 20th century. It is one Ireland's most popular small museums, receiving over 10,000 visitors a year.

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