Every country has them - those tourist traps that are more hype than substance. Or those attractions that do not seem so attractive any more close up. Ireland is no exception. Give them a miss. Or enjoy them with a pinch of salt, the choice is your's.
You will find distilleries dotting the Irish landscape, promising a warm welcome and a taste of the good stuff. Unfortunately most of these attractions are not working distilleries at all. The only opportunity to see the real thing is in Bushmills - near the Giant's Causeway
you can actually see (and smell) the "water of life" being made. Other distilleries are just showcases or have a very reduced production line ... interesting nonetheless, but not the real deal.
You pay for the privilege of climbing around 120 steps and then being photographed snogging (Irish vernacular
for "kissing") a wall while hanging upside down from the castle tower. All this to get the "gift of the gab", as Irish eloquence is being commonly called. Meaning you'll talk a lot of Blarney afterwards. The Blarney stone once made it into the top rankings of the world's most unhygienic visitor attractions ...
Ever since 1984 this bottlenose dolphin has been behaving decidedly unnaturally and thus become a godsend for the residents of Dingle. An Daingean
, as the town is officially called, has taken to building a Fungi-industry like a duck to water. And the more trusting tourists assume that Fungi's behaviour is natural, with sometimes painful consequences: Since 2005 a number of enthusiastic tourists have been hospitalized after disgruntled (and often unnamed) dolphins rammed them at high speed, usually hitting with perfect marksmanship below the belt.
Sir Cornelius O'Brien built his tower right on the Cliffs of Moher
to get a better vantage point. Today you can follow in his footsteps, climb a few dozen steps and ... see not really more than standing on the ground. You will be slightly higher up and your purse will certainly be two Euros lighter. And you'll be asking yourself "Why?"
For a few months now a tourist boat has been plying its trade on the Liffey, promising unique views of the city. Which, when the tide is out, will mean a lot of grey-green quay walls. And the few Dublin sights actually visible from a very flat boat on a small river. Unless you are a hard-core enthusiast of boat trips the sightseeing buses are a much better way to see Dublin.
The Majority of Irish Seaside ResortsAcres of closely spaced mobile homes, small beaches with cold water, tacky amusements and jaded fun-fairs, exorbitant prices, screaming kids at day and at night a taste of a culture that confuses being blindly drunk with having a good time. Best avoided.
Despite being among the top attractions of Dublin
, the "bohemian quarter" is (at least partially) expensive and overrated. Some pubs and restaurants may well be described as tourist traps - caveat emptor
Do not expect more than from them than you would in Orlando - the menu is fairly generic and somewhat basic, the setting is more Renaissance than Middle Ages and the entertainment is strictly middle-of-the-road. That said the castles are real, like Bunratty to name but one, and it is a fun way to spend an evening. Avoid if on a budget, splash out if it tickles your fancy.
About 98% of all merchandise in souvenir shops is available in all other shops as well, it pays to shop around. Also bear in mind that a huge number of souvenirs actually originate in third-world-factories and are outrageously overpriced. Check my list of the best Irish souvenirs
and invest wisely.