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Aran Inspired

Glencolumbkille

This tiny, coastal hamlet lies between Glen Bay and a barren moorland, and is part of Donegal's vanishing Gaeltecht (Irish-speaking) region. A quaint atmosphere still surrounds the village, which is tucked into a hidden sea-cliff. Its rural Irish charm is reflected in the homespun décor of the pubs and residences.

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Glenveagh National Park and Glenveagh Castle

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Castlestrange Stone

This ancient, richly decorated and beautiful carved stone is located on the Castlestrange Estate near Athleague in County Roscommon. Free to visit, the stone dates from the late Iron Age period -- somewhere between 500BCE and 100AD. Roughly egg shaped, the Castlestrange Stone is about 60cm high and about 1 metre wide, and has a swirling design engraved into its granite surface. It sits on a bed of river rocks. A protected National Monument, the purpose of the Castlestrange Stone remains known. Historians presume it served some religious or ceremonial function.

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Baylin (Bealin) High Cross

Sitting on a small hill behind some houses in the village of Twyford, 15 minutes from the centre of Athlone, this ornate high cross is estimated to be more than 1200 years old. Standing at just over 2 metres (6.5 feet) tall, the cross previously stood in the neighbouring area of Baylin (hence its name), although it is thought to have originated in Clonmacnoise. Also referred to as the Bealin cross, the modern spelling "Baylin" reflects its pronunciation.

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Dysert O'Dea Castle and Archaeology Centre

This medieval tower house, built in 1480 by the Gaelic nobleman Diarmud O'Dea, today houses the Clare Archaeology Centre. Beautifully restored, the castle serves not only as a museum, but as an attraction in its own right, and as the centre of a walking trail that features many other sites of historical interest.

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Struell Wells

Nestled in the verdant countryside of Struell, a townland (parcel of land) in County Down, people have for centuries visited these bathing houses and medieval wells for their healing powers. Each Midsummer Eve (June 23rd), throughout the middle ages, pilgrims made the journey here seeking cures. The name Struell comes from the Gaelic tSruthail Sroo-hal meaning stream.

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Heywood Gardens

The beautifully landscaped Heywood Gardens are the most outstanding attraction of Ballinakill, a small Georgian village just south of Abbeyleix in County Laois. The park is actually the estate of mansion that no longer stands, called Heywood House, which was engulfed in flames in 1950 and demolished to make way for a school. Its gardens, nevertheless, remain a delight. There are actually two sets of gardens at Heywood -- the outer sprawling rustic park and woodland was constructed in the 18th century; the smaller formal Italianate gardens, which would have stood directly in front of the house, were constructed in the early 1900s.

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St. Audoen's Church

Near Dublin's former centre, in the Cornmarket area, admirers of medieval architecture should not miss out on St. Audoen’s Church. Situated on one of Dublin’s oldest streets, High Street -- a main thoroughfare for the city's nobility -- St Audoen’s was central to the daily life of medieval Dublin. Built by Anglo-Normans in 1190 on the site of a 7th century church. An 9th century grave slab --- known as the Lucky Stone --- remains of the earlier church. Beautiful church that retains its original medieval features, such as a large Norman gate.

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Hill of Uisneach

The Hill of Uisneach (Ish-nock) is one of Ireland's most ancient ceremonial sites, similar in importance to the Hill of Tara, though relatively few Irish people know of it. While it is today just an inconspicuous looking field, Uisneach was long a famous landmark, associated with the ancient May Day festival of Bealtaine (Bahl-tehn-ah), when people throughout Ireland lit bonfires and travelled to this hill. Located in rural County Westmeath, Uisneach was believed to be the centre of the island of Ireland. If you look at the Google map toward the bottom of this page, you can see this (zoom out). Technically, Uisneach is not exactly the geographical centre, but they didn't have GPS or satellites 2,000 years ago!

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Bantry House

The highlight of Bantry Town is Bantry House, an outstanding 1739 Georgian mansion. It became the first of Ireland’s great houses to be open for public viewing in 1945, and descendants of the original occupant, Lord Bantry, still live here. The interior is furnished with a variety of artistic and decorative treasures, most of which were collected by Richard White, the second Earl of Bantry, during his European travels. The Rose Drawing Room displays Aubusson tapestries made for Marie Antoinette. The Blue Dining Room is the showplace for portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte painted by Allan Ramsey.

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