Ireland is nicknamed the Emerald Isle because of the incredible lush greenery of its landscape. This small country of just 32,000 square miles provides the visitor with some of the most stunning scenery in the world. Ireland is dotted with beautiful lakes and mountains, vast meandering rivers and valleys, jaw-dropping cliffs and peninsulas, hundreds of isolated but accessible islands and dozens of the most attractive beaches. In short, this little island provides the most spectacular scenery you are ever likely to come across anywhere in the world.
All of this is compressed into an easily navigable island with infrastructure that has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years and makes it feasible to explore the entire country in a shorter time span than before. That said; you could spend years in Ireland and still not discover all of its beauty, such is the amount and the diversity of its wonderful attractions.
Ireland for tourism purposes is divided into eight separate regions. Each have notable and spectacular scenic vistas that compete with any that the planet of Earth can throw up. Each is worth a holiday in its own right and all will impose upon you the compelling desire to return. Each requires books instead of articles to properly convey their beauty but here we will content ourselves with a brief summary.
The most popular is the South West which comprises the vast and stunning counties of Kerry and Cork. Scenic highlights of this area are the famous Lakes of Killarney overlooked by the highest mountains in Ireland, the Ring of Kerry, beautiful West Cork and the Beara Peninsula, the Dingle Peninsula and hundreds of more that immerse you in a magnetic fashion as you travel. Cork City is the third largest city on the island of Ireland and is a good starting point for discovering the huge region.
Next in terms of visitor numbers come the West of Ireland, which is deemed the three counties of Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. The Connemara area is the most famous and incredibly beautiful part of this region straddling the boundaries of west Galway and Mayo. Buzzing Galway City is a superb location in which you base yourself for visiting this region. Drive, cycle or walk from Galway to Louisburgh for one of the great scenic treks in the world. Return on the same route and see an equally stunning but different vista as Mother Nature puts on a different face.
The Shannon Region is made up of counties Clare, Limerick and part of County Tipperary and part of County Offaly. Don’t be confused by the unusual divisions in this case as the natural geographical boundaries are the reason for splitting it in such a manner. When you come to see it, you will understand. The Cliffs of Moher and the desolate Burren are the most noted beauty spots in this region along with the Slieve Bloom Mountains and all the beauty that emanates from the navigable River Shannon as it swells into lakes of stunning demeanour.
The North West brings together the counties of Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal and what contrasting and divine beauty there is in this region. Glenveigh National Park is a vast terrain of incredible beauty stretching across County Donegal and this huge county also presents you with best beaches in Ireland. This is also the Lakeland area of Ireland, spread across Cavan, Leitrim and Sligo providing numbing beauty and solitary peace away from any large centre of population.
The Six Counties of Northern Ireland is a naturally affiliated political and geographical region with the second largest city in Ireland, Belfast, as its centre. The Glens of Antrim together with a stunning coastline are highlights here. The largest lake in Ireland, Lough Neagh, is also a focal touching five of the six counties in the region. The Mountains of Mourne in County Down are almost chilling in their beauty as they sweep down to the Irish Sea.
The East Coast & Midlands region of Ireland is made up out of counties Kildare, Laois, Longford, Louth, Meath, North Offaly, Westmeath and Wicklow and be prepared for a few stunning surprises at the beauty and diversity of this somewhat underrated region. County Wicklow is certainly worthy of the title of captain of this region – not called the Garden of Ireland for nothing!
The South East Region of tourism in Ireland is comprised of County Carlow, County Kilkenny, South County Tipperary, County Waterford and County Wexford. Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city and home to the world famous Waterford Crystal Store. It is also the meeting point of the Three Sisters Rivers, the Suir, the Nore and the Barrow. To the north of this are several beautiful mountain ranges running east to west bisecting the region with a spine of unadulterated beauty.
County Dublin is the eighth tourist region and whilst the main basis for this is of course Dublin City, capital of the Republic of Ireland, the county throws up some stunning beauty even within the urban area. Killiney and Dalkey to the south of the city are spectacular cliff top areas and similarly in the north near the airport, you have the magnificent Howth Head providing stunning views of Dublin Bay.
If your ambition is to see in your lifetime the most scenic attraction the globe can offer, make sure you include Ireland as a port of call, for when the time comes to do your evaluation of all you have discovered in your worldly travels, my guess is that the Emerald Isle will be up at or near the top of your list.