It is easy to see why Ireland is famous for so many things; stunning landscapes and wild coasts, a culture of traditional Irish music and dance and fascinating legends.

The Republic of Ireland, nicknamed The Emerald Isle, has it all.

Here are some Irish culture highlights that Ireland is known for that will make you fall in love with this beautiful country.

Ireland is famous for the Library of the University of Dublin
The Library at the University of Dublin is the number one must-see sight.

What Is Ireland Known For? Castles, castles, and more castles

There are over 3,000 castles in Ireland all around the country including Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom.

Irish history is characterized in part by minor lords vying for regional dominance. To be successful, a lord needed to have a castle to protect his territory and use as a base to grab territory from fellow lords.

Also, any self-respecting lord wannabe needed to have a castle if anyone were to take him seriously.

Most castles, some with lovely medieval architecture, are now in ruins but others are in excellent condition having been refurbished and converted into tourist attractions and hotels.

If you’ve ever fancied sleeping in a genuine medieval castle, this might be your best opportunity.

A must-see is Dublin Castle in the center of town, is one of Ireland’s most famous landmarks.

This imposing structure is the site of many important events in Ireland’s turbulent history.

The best way to see Dublin is with a walking tour of Dublin. And top it off with a Dublin Food Tour.

Want to stay near Trinity College? Stay at the Trinity Townhouse Hotel. 

Probably the best-known castle in Ireland is Blarney Castle, site of the kissable Blarney Stone that Ireland is famous for.

Visiting this popular destination is doable on a day trip from Dublin, the capital city, but better scheduled as a stop on your way to or from Ireland’s spectacular west coast.

Legend has it if you kiss the Blarney Stone you will be given the gift of gab or eloquence, so that’s a good reason to visit.

Depending on your tolerance for silly touristy gimmicks you may or may not feel compelled to visit Blarney Castle and kiss the stone.

I’m a sucker for these things so, alas, I succumbed to the promise of the gift of gab and kissed the stone.

The castle itself is a total ruin. All that remains are a few walls and a staircase leading up to the stone.

What is worthwhile are the beautiful and extensive gardens on the grounds of the castle.

Still can’t get enough of these fascinating structures? Check out this definitive list of Irish castles.

“A good friend is like a four-leaf clover, hard to find and lucky to have.” - Irish Proverb Click To Tweet “The heart of an Irishman is nothing but his imagination.” - George Bernard Shaw Click To Tweet

Check prices for accommodations in Dublin.   

The Spectacular Coasts and Countryside

Another thing Ireland is known for is its beautiful coastline. To say Ireland is a beautiful country would be an overused cliché and massive understatement.

Since there is nothing I can say that would convey the country’s beauty, here are some photos.

One especially beautiful coast is found in Mizen Head and the surrounding area although the most well known are the dramatic Cliffs of Moher reachable on a day trip from Dublin.

And you shouldn’t miss the Wild Atlantic Way.

For a lovely drive and or hike along Ireland’s coast, head for the Ring of Kerry. It is the perfect place to commune with nature.

Irish Cemeteries

There is something about an Irish cemetery that compels you to photograph it.

Is it the Celtic crosses that rise above the gravestones, the locations on rolling green hills or village graveyards that have overgrown with vines and thistles? They are certainly among the iconic things Ireland is famous for.

If you are a lover of cemeteries and the history, statuary, and peaceful grounds that characterize them, you will enjoy Unique and historical cemeteries around the world.

“Love is never defeated, and I could add, the history of Ireland proves it.” - Pope John Paul II Click To Tweet

What Are the Irish Famous For? Pubs, Local Libations, and Food

Irish food definitely does not get the respect and accolades it deserves.

Well, I’m here to do my part, albeit a small one, to testify as to innovative culinary delights like Irish stew, Irish soda bread and black pudding that await the visitor to Ireland.

Ireland has an extensive collection of home-grown spirits that have achieved popularity throughout the world. First and foremost among them is one of the world’s most popular beers, Guinness, Ireland’s dark beer.

Established in 1759, the brand’s popularity is still going strong.

A visit to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is a must visit if you’re in town.

Irish whiskeys (the word comes from the Gaelic “water of life”) have been enjoying a resurgence in popularity for many years.

Many of the most popular brands are worth sampling; Jameson, Bushmills, Paddy, and Glendalough.

All of these can be tasted while reveling in the vibrant Irish Pub culture and having an Irish good time. And don’t forget the Irish coffee!

The pubs of Ireland are a great place to socialize, grab a bite, join a sing-a-long, sample the local libations and absorb a bit of the fun and jovial Irish pub culture.

Ireland is famous for its musical culture

Some other famous Irish things are live music and the world-renown Irish dance.

The Irish take their musical culture very seriously. From an early age, many school children are sent to dance school to practice Irish dancing, commonly referred to an Irish jig.

Brought to the United States by Irish immigrants, the Irish jig is credited with having influenced the development of the uniquely American tap dance.

Traditional Irish dance is fascinating to watch, the steps increase velocity with astonishing speed while the feet seem to barely touch the ground.

Traditional Irish Folk music is also popular. A good way to sample a wide variety is to go on a pub crawl. Sample the local drink, listen to the folk songs and enjoy a dance spectacular in a traditional Irish pub.

What a great way to spend an evening; entertaining and educational.

Ireland is known for its legends

Leprechauns exist and Ireland is famous for them. Rumor has it they are not difficult to find, either. Just follow the signs to where they live.

I myself have never actually seen one but I’ve met many people that claim sightings.

Ireland’s long history of literary traditions and folklore are full of legends from fairies to leprechauns to fictional characters. 

It’s also the birthplace of many literary luminaries like Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Roddy Doyle as well as singer Van Morrison and many other famous Irish people.  

Ireland is famous for the Book of Kells

Within the Old Library building at Dublin City’s Trinity College, you find the Book of Kells. This is a manuscript dating from the 9th century.

It contains the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Said to be written and decorated by monks, the book glorifies the life of Jesus and his message.

It features spectacular illuminations and intricate text created in incomparable artistry.   

Ireland has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites 

Skellig Michael in the Skellig Islands in Europe’s remote westerly point, a jaw-droppingly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site one of the best places to experience total isolation like the ancient Christian Irish monks.

Bru na Boinne in County Meath is a complex of tombs from the Neolithic period. They are older than the pyramids!  Both are natural wonders.

The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, another UNESCO site is a spectacular collection of rock formations. 

Ireland is known for its Irish Emigrants

The Great Famine of the mid-1800s disrupted Irish society and caused millions of Irish to emigrate in search of a better life.

The main cause was a disease that affected the potato crop. It is estimated that about one third of the population of Ireland depended on the potato for sustenance at the time.

Monument to the Great Famine
Monument to the Great Famine in Boston

The resulting disease and starvation virtually decimated the country. It is estimated that over one million people died. Many more emigrated and traveled to the United States, Canada and other European countries.  

Before the Great Famine, the population of Ireland was about 8.5 million Today that number stands at 5 million.

The Saint Patrick’s Day parade

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was in Boston in 1737, before the United States was even a country!

Today, New York City’s St Patrick’s Day parade is a major New York City attraction and the largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the world.

And talk about St. Patrick, did you know he was actually British? He was captured by Irish pirates and brought to Ireland as a slave to tend sheep.

It was during that time that he found religion. Contrary to popular belief, St. Patrick did not expel all the snakes from Ireland. There were never any snakes there to begin with.  

The Irish are famous for their Irish artisanal products

Ireland is known for its many fine traditional artisanal products like Aran sweaters from the islands and Donegal Tweed from County Donegal.

Perhaps the most well-know Irish product is the famous Waterford crystal. 

Other delights from the island of Ireland include Celtic design jewelry, Irish chocolate and various spirits. 

Irish fun facts 

Here is an Irish fun fact that most people won’t guess. Halloween originated in Ireland. It was the Celtic harvest festival celebrated at the end of the summer and morphed into what it is today. 

New York City has the most Irish-Americans in the United States.

The Irish diaspora in the United States alone is over 33 million Irish-Americans. 

The Irish language is one of the oldest live languages in the world. 

Bram Stoker, author of Dracula was actually Irish. 

The Vikings founded Dublin..   

County Cork is the largest county in Ireland. 

Ireland is a star of the Eurovision Song Contest. It has won more awards than any other country, a whopping seven awards.

Ireland is the only country with a musical instrument, a harp, as the national symbol.   

Guinness beer originated in the Dublin brewery of Arthur Guinness. But he didn’t even own the brewery. He rented out space and bought the brewery once the beer became famous. 

The world famous Guinness Beer

Over 10% of the population of Ireland has red hair. Substantially more than any other country.

For a small country, Ireland punches way above its weight. It has a rich history and an ancient and unique culture.

Ireland invites you to explore and rewards you with all the wonderful things that Ireland is famous for.

Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple or visiting Ireland with kids, there is something for everyone.  

I certainly fell in love with Ireland. I hope these reasons have compelled you to fall in love with Ireland too.

The Irish have many Irish blessings but  the most famous Irish blessing and one that I like best is “make the road rise up to meet you” meaning farewell and may you succeed in your journey. 

Can’t get enough of Ireland and other great European cities? Check out this impressive list of things to do in Ireland and these 7 of the best summer destinations in Europe for the perfect getaway.

Want to know more about Ireland before you go?  Here are a few resources sure to be helpful.

What do YOU think Ireland is famous for? What did we miss?

A castle on a lake

Updated July, 2023.

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  1. That is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
    Short but very accurate info… Thank you for sharing this one.
    A must read article!

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Talek Nantes

This blog was created to inspire your travels and to explore experiences in fascinating locations. What you will find are thoughts on how to immerse yourself in local culture, food, history and people. On your way to these adventures I hope to provide you with useful information to help you get there. Come see the world with me!

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