Killian, E. Keogh, Andy and Anna talk us through their favourite scenic spots around Ireland
Killian Conyngham: Howth Head
When I was 16 I consciously set out not to fall into the trap of never exploring your homeland, and I’ve seen plenty of the amazing sights this country has to offer since. I suppose it makes my bias and penchant for sentimentality even more obvious that I still contend Howth head is the best scenic spot in Ireland.
Only a dart ride away from Dublin city centre, few places leave me so consistently content, and I swear it’s not just because I always used to finish walks there with a pint. The views there are great from the start, but I can only recommend taking the cliff walk as they only get better further along, and are seriously compounded by the accomplishment of the hike. Plus, the far side of the peninsula sports an uncharacteristically lovely view of Dublin, as well as some quality swimming coves if the weather is nice or you don’t mind the cold. When blackberries are in season you barely even need to bring lunch. And, if I’m being perfectly honest, the fact that you can finish it all off with a wide selection of quality chippers doesn’t hurt either, even if they do charge you distinctly Dublin prices for the privilege.
E. Keogh: The Navan Fort.
Although I’ve not been back to Northern Ireland in a long time, the sight of the Navan Fort is forever ingrained in my mind. It’s my home away from home, and it’s one of my favourite places in the world.
The site itself in more recent years has been said to be some sort of massive Iron Age temple, but for years it’s just been where my dad and I would walk his dog, Zeus. A lot of people overlook the spot, as it seems to be just a massive hill, but for me it’s much more. The visitor centre, although at times can be filled with tacky trinkets for overseas guests to buy, provides a lot of information about the history of the site.
Although I do love the history side of the fort, the things I love about it most are at sunrise and sunset. It’s a magnificent feeling walking up to its peak and being able to see a good chunk of Armagh city, all the surrounding fields, and even better to feel the warmth of the first rays of morning light. To me the experience feels almost magical - I’m not fond of being up before 6am, but to see the breathtaking sunrise, the beautiful golden sparkle cast on the icy grass, and to be able to walk around and almost sense the story of the Navan fort and all the goings on that happened there? It’s a feeling I miss dreadfully, and one I highly recommend experiencing for yourself once it’s safe to do so.
Andrew Nolan: Scenic spots around Tallaght
I remember looking up Tallaght on a tourist site a while back, curious as to what was listed as attractions. Seeing some of the top spots taken up by a Jackpott’s Bingo and a Leisureplex summed it up quite well, in all honesty. However, luckily enough, the area can also be quite pretty in places.
Going just up the road from the Old Mill pub, you’ll find a number of parks which are lovely for a walk - my favourite of which being just behind the Kiltipper Woods Care Centre. Down by the river, there’s a few spots in particular to unwind by the water. But if you don’t venture down, there are a number of hilled, grassy areas where you can sit in the sun, whether it be for a picnic or for some cans with friends, that offer a great view of the Bohernabreena mountains.
If that doesn’t do the trick, there’s still plenty to see in the area. From the aforementioned park, you are only a short walk away from the Waterworks, a grand reservoir based in the Glenasmole valley. While it may be a trek, you’re not too far from the Killakee Woods and the Hellfire Club. On a clear day, you’ll see arguably one of the best views of Dublin from here. There is also the 65 bus through Tallaght that will take you to Blessington. We may not have the pubs right now, but there are still plenty of scenic spots around to relax in.
Anna Blackburn: Croagh Patrick
With the countless number of castles, cliffs, and scenic spots in Ireland, it’s unlikely you’ll be stumped for things to do while travelling around the gorgeous green countryside. During my stay, the first time I visited Ireland in 2017, one of my favourite things we did was climb Croagh Patrick. While I would also recommend other places to hike such as Glendalough and Killarney National Park, the view from the top of Ireland’s Holy Mountain in Co. Mayo was unbeatable.
My aunt and I warmed ourselves up at the Visitors’ Centre with a cup of coffee and hot cocoa before making our way onto the trail. Greeted by a statue of Saint Patrick and motivated by the enormity of the task that lay before us (not just my Catholic grandmother’s recommendation of the pilgrimage) we started up the mountain walking alongside other tourists, visitors, dogs, children, and sheep. We followed the babbling brook upstream and paused every so often to catch our breath. They told us it would be an entire day's journey to reach the summit, but we were prepared.
When we took our much-needed breaks, we would turn around to take in the view, whose beauty increased with every step we took. The mountains were so far, yet so visible, they looked as if they had been literally painted on the skyline. The hike was rewarding and the view from the top was indescribable. I highly recommend doing this hike and bringing a buddy.