The Hidden Gems Of The Emerald Isle

Ireland is clearly an incredibly beautiful country with vast and varying countryside, stunning coastal views, history in each and every place and friendly locals to welcome you and tell you all about their patch of the Emerald Isle, but if you fancy getting away from the usual hot-spots and delving further into the beauty that Ireland has to offer then here are some of the hidden gems of this magical island. 

Dalkey Island, Co. Dublin

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Not far away from the jolly crowds of Dublin you’ll find a little uninhabited island where you can get away from it all, bask in the peace and quiet or perhaps do some fishing, sailing or bird-watching. 

This hidden gem of an island is also rich in history with the earliest human settlement here dating back to the Mesolithic period. 

Some of the interesting sights you’ll see are the Martello Tower and the ruins of St Begnet’s Church.

Do make sure to take food and a picnic along to the island as there is nowhere to go shopping!

Benbulbin, Co. Sligo

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Sligo is one of the least visited countries on the Wild Atlantic Way yet is a stunning part of Ireland and has so much to offer. 

One of our favourite natural attractions here is the Benbulbin Mountain which bare’s a striking resemblance to South Africa’s Table Mountain. Standing at 526 meters this mountain offers some incredible and challenging hiking routes. 

As well as Brnbulbin Mountain, Sligo has lots to offer from brilliant surfing conditions, to beautiful beaches and some great get away retreats where you can head to for some rest and relaxation. 

Nicknamed the ‘adventure capital of Ireland’ there are all manor of activities you can get up to in Sligo including surfing, hiking, diving, sailing and kite surfing. 

Lough Hyne, West Cork

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Lough Hyne is located in West Cork and was designated Europe’s first Marine Nature Reserve. Today it still remains one of the most important marine habitats in Europe, and it is well worth a visit.

Lough Hyne is home to Ireland’s only sea water lake and it is here that you can try your hand at sea kayaking which is a beautiful, peaceful way to see the lakes. 

Sea kayaking at night is even more incredible and you’ll be amazed by the peace and quiet that being on the water after dark brings. 

There are lots of great outdoor activities to undertake here though and the lake’s small size and highly oxygenated, yet warm seawater, means that it is home to a huge variety of plants and animals that are not found anywhere else in Ireland.

There are some fabulous walking routes in the forest and hills beside the lake which offer panoramic views of the lake, the Atlantic Ocean and of the many Carbery Islands dotted off the Cork coastline. 

Keem Bay, Achill, Mayo

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Keem Bay is located at the western end of Achill Island and is one of the most picturesque bays in Ireland. 

It is accessible by road over a clifftop route on the side of Croaghaun mountain. 

The Bay itself is virtually uninhabited and is as peaceful as it is beautiful.

You’ll find a gorgeous sandy beach bordered on two sides by cliffs; to the east by the slopes of Croaghaun mountain, and to the west by a spar called Moyteoge. 

 For the walkers amongst you this spot marks the start of a great 1.5km walk along the cliff stops towards Achill Head.

At the far end of the valley you’ll find the village of Bunowna which consists of the remains of 17 circular stone cottages which were used in days gone by as a summer residence for herders tending their cattle.

Keem Bay was the location for much of Achill's shark fishing industry during the 1950s and 1960s and at that time the basking shark was a frequent visitor to this area. 

The Glen of Aherlow, Tipperary

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The Glen of Aherlow is certainly the most scenic part of County Tipperary, one of Ireland's hidden gems it is definitely worth taking some time out to see. 

Stretching from the N24 south of Tipperary town through 16 miles of un-spoilt countryside you will witness some of the most breathtaking scenery. The lush valley of the River Aherlow runs between the Galtee Mountains and the wooded ridge of Slievenamuck and you’ll pass by the villages of Galbally and Bansha too.

There are an abundance of opportunities for walking, horse riding, cycling, rambling or fishing in this area and some of the lowland walks follow the River Aherlow along the valley floor, just beautiful. 

For the more experienced walkers who fancy a challenge head for the Galtee range which offers more rugged hill walking past wooded foothills, mountain streams, lakes and sandstone peaks.

The Galtees are Ireland’s highest inland mountain range and will certainly provide some exhilarating walking opportunities.

The history buffs amongst you will enjoy the variety of prehistoric, early Christian and Medieval sites within the valley.