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Sights of Munster - Picking the Best of Ireland's Southwest

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The top sights of Munster? Nature is the main attraction in the relatively sunny and and warm Southwest of Ireland, with West Cork and Kerry being especially highly regarded as beauty spots. Signposted drives along the coast will take you to the most famous areas. Munster is also a very much geared towards tourism. Meaning you won’t really be alone most of the time.

And don't forget to share your favourite Munster attraction(s) with other readers!

1. The Burren

Where the Burren meets Galway Bay
Wedged between the rough beauty of the Aran Islands and the bustling university city of Galway, the near featureless desolation of this limestone plateau has often been likened to a moonscape. Ancient monuments and bizarre rock formations abound. Some spectacular sights can be taken in by driving next to Galway Bay.

2. Lakes of Killarney

If you want to experience spectacular coastal scenery, breathtaking mountain landscapes, ancient monuments and the tranquil old-world-charm of Killarney's lakes, castles and houses, this is the place to go. Bear in mind that thousands of tourists will have the same idea - the best time here can be had both sides of the summer months.

3. Cliffs of Moher

An undulating landscape suddenly ends in a sheer drop of more than 650 feet, straight down to the Atlantic. One of the most spectacular coastal areas in Europe. The visitor center is currently being rebuilt on a grand scale, building works are expected to last well into 2007.

4. Ring of Kerry

One of, if not the, most famous signposted drives in Ireland. The "Ring of Kerry" leads around the spectacular coastline from Kenmare to Killorglin with the road via Killarney completing the ring. Best done outside the tourist season.

5. Beara Peninsula

The Beara Peninsula strikes out into the Atlantic and is definitely worth a visit. From the desolate and aptly named Hungry Hill to the fishing port of Castletownbere, from the breathtaking views on Healy Pass to the no less breathtaking ride in a cable car to Dursey Island. Great walks can be had on Bear Island (ferry from Castletownbere), or visit the ruins of tragic Dunboy Castle for some shivers.

6. Cobh

If Ireland has a town that conveys a certain Mediterranean mood, Cobh would be it. Colorful and quaint, with a huge cathedral towering over Cork Harbor and historical connections. The town was once known as Queenstown and the last port of call for the Titanic before her fatal encounter with an iceberg. And hundreds of dead from the sinking of the Lusitania are buried in mass graves locally.

7. Charles Fort and Kinsale

Guarding the entrance to Kinsale Harbor, Charles Fort is one of the most impressive fortresses you may visit in Ireland. Though partially destroyed by the IRA in the 1920s the massive complex, incorporating a petite lighthouse, is still a symbol of military power. The town of Kinsale itself has reinvented itself as a gourmet haven. The prices certainly reflect it, but a walk through the nicely presented center is free.

8. Dingle Peninsula

The town of Dingle is the main attraction here, famed for pubs, restaurants and folk music. And an aquarium. It is a tourist resort at heart, but still has the certain charm of "the auld country". Fungi the Dolphin is another, much overrated attraction. For splendid views try driving up the Connor Pass or climbing Brandon Mountain. The fairly short Slea Head Drive is well worth the time for the view of the Blasket Islands alone, do not miss visit the Blasket Centre on the way.

9. Rock of Cashel

This historic place is visible for miles from the new bypass and definitely worth the detour. Basically a collection of ecclesiastical ruins on top of a hill it has a varied and quite exciting history. Read up on the history and enjoy the excuse of a nobleman who burned the complex down, saying in his defense that he "thought the bishop was still inside!"

10. Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

The tower house of Bunratty was built in 1467 by the O'Brien family and has been renovated with no expenses spared. A medieval banquet is offered in the evenings, complete with period entertainment. During the day the adjoining Bunratty Folk Park allows a glimpse into Ireland's past.

Munster's Best Attractions - What is Your Opinion?

Munster's best attractions - is there a definite list or a wide difference of opinion? Guide books and websites can recommend, but what are the popular favourites among the attractions of Munster? What, in your personal opinion, should be the one sight no visitor of Munster should leave without having seen it first? Share your favourite Munster attraction(s) with other readers!

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