Inis Meain

A pint of adventure

Whether you are sitting in a pub or taking in the spectacular architecture, Ireland has something to ignite a spark of inspiration in everyone.

Author

Kate Veteri

Destination: Ireland

Ireland is a land of legends. From gothic castles to tales of brooding wars between gods, the toughest choice you will have to make is which mountain to climb or which fortress to conquer. Nestled in villages off the main track, or even the mainland, this small island has a big reputation that doesn’t disappoint with scenic views, quaint pubs and striking architecture. 

One obvious place to start is the capital city, Dublin, a destination bursting with personality and history. For lovers of antiquity, dive straight into the historic world of Ireland by visiting the Trinity College in the heart of Dublin. Standing on the world stage, Trinity is one of only seven ancient universities of Britain and Ireland – perfect for the history buffs. Being a university, Trinity of course has something for book worms. Acting as a legal deposit for Ireland and Great Britain, the Library of Trinity College contains over 6.2 million printed publications and significant quantities of manuscripts, including the Book of Kells – an illustrated Gospel manuscript in Latin that was believed to be created in 800 AD.

After all that learning, time to hit up the local pub for a pint, and there’s none more famous than the vibrant red exterior of the Temple Bar in Dublin’s Southside. The London phone booth look-alike is home to some of the world’s best whiskies, live Irish music, cigars and Temple’s own slice of outdoor heaven called the Beer Garden, located surprisingly in the middle of the pub.   

And if combining history, sightseeing and drinking is to your taste then a tour of the Guinness Storehouse is a must. The Storehouse has received four million lively visitors since 2000, all walking the seven floors of the brewery that encompasses a glass atrium shaped in the form of a pint. The floors hold the secrets to the creation of the world-famous ale, from an introduction to the ingredients used to interactive exhibits. Travel to the top of the building to the Gravity Bar and enjoy a stout all while taking in the city views.

Once you’ve exhausted the possibilities of the main drag, it’s time to head out of the city and into the scenic countryside. If navigating foreign roads is not up your alley, there are plenty of one-day bus tours departing early morning from the city-centre to the Hill of Tara (Temair), in County Meath, north of Dublin. 

 
Trinity College
Trinity College
The Temple Bar
Temple Bar

Take a journey back 5000 years to the place where ancient High Kings ruled and tales of war were told. The hillside is now home to the Neolithic tombs of Loughcrew, and art carvings of primitive maps featuring spirals and ripple-marks dating back to the Stone Age. A passage tomb known as Dumha na nGiall (meaning ‘the mound of the hostages’) in the area is said to be the oldest visible monument on the hillside, dating back to 3000 BC.

For a more modern representation of artistic endeavours, County Meath has something for all. The Solstice multi-disciplinary arts centre in Navan provides a hub for cultural and arts activities – connecting the artist to the people. The centre’s facilities include three gallery spaces, a studio and a 320-seat tiered theatre, all helping to accommodate various art forms from performance, exhibition and participatory. The award-winning centre features a grey-black marble mosaic slab that hovers off the side of the building, inviting the public to enter into the realm of theatre without passing through any doors. 

However, it is recommended that you take a look inside to while away an afternoon. Meander through the top-floor gallery with rotating exhibits featuring work from local and international artists. If you’re lucky to spend some time in the theatre watching a tragedy or lively ballet, take note of the architecture that has utilised the landscape. The natural incline of the theatre seats is made possible by the downward slope of hill it sits upon, leading the eye to centre stage.  

 
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
Solstice Arts Centre
Solstice Arts Centre

Let your eyes wonder even further. Navigate the country roads and surrounding natural beauty when heading west to the Hidden Heartlands region, located in the centre of Ireland. Wherever you are in the region you can guarantee experiencing part of the nation’s history. With a long-standing tradition of feasting and night-long celebrations, stemming from Saint Patricks Day, the hidden luxuries of the Heartlands spoils visitors with a wide choice of lakeside pubs, operating at their own vibrant pace to provide you with the best burgers and beer on the island. The region’s lunchtime – founded on the spirit of the national festival – isn’t the only thing to enjoy; there are vast supplies of unexplored tracks and trails, river cruises, and picturesque rural villages to spark your imagination and bring out your inner explorer. 

Traverse the region some more to find the areas overflowing with history of the old world and worlds beyond our own. One in particular, known as the ‘Otherworld’, is said to be home of the Gods and Goddesses found in the story of Lebor Gabála Érenn (Book of Invasions). Written in the eleventh century, the story says you can seek out the ‘Gate to Hell’ at Oweynagat in Rathcroghan, County Roscommon. 

Have you ever wanted to delve into the past and experience a truly medieval reality? If yes, then look no further than the luxuries of the Cahercastle outside of the Galway City, west of the Hidden Heartlands. The fifteenth-century castle was recently revealed as the most popular private room in Airbnb history. The mediaeval castle has had the interior refurbished for the 3034 guests it has housed in the twenty-first century. Owners Peter and Eva Hayes live within the restored castle to ensure their cosy home-away-from-home gives you the chance to ‘live like a king’.  

 
Inis Meain hotel
Idyll on Inis Meain 
Galway bay
Galway bay

While living the fanciful lifestyle of a royal, Idyll on Inis Meáin off the coast of Galway is a must. The island is abundant with creative architecture that mimics the exciting history and fanciful tales of war. The middle island of the Aran Islands is the perfect getaway from bustling tourist locations. The suites are designed to blend harmoniously with the natural environment using distinctive slabs of horizontal stone. Featuring a ribbon window at one end of the elongated building, the restaurant overlooks the mountains and coastal terrain off Ireland’s shores leading towards the mainland. Away from the crowds, this island of 200 residents offers visitors the perfect terrain for hiking, cycling and fishing. Walk along the beaches, take a self-guided tour of the historical and cultural sights or enjoy lunch overlooking Galway Bay.

So breathe a breath of fresh air and gain inspiration from the best of Ireland’s natural and man-made wonders. 

 

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