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The Seven Natural Wonders of Ireland

Exquisite Irish Attractions for Inquisitive Visitors


Before Ireland had any man-made wonders, Mother Nature (or maybe a higher being, or maybe just a cosmic accident ... let us not go there) created her natural wonders. Of which there are many more than seven. But as seven is the classic number, so here they are ...

1. The Giant's Causeway - Stairway to Scotland

Giant's causeway
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Stretching northwards into the sea from the Antrim coast, the regular basalt columns of the Giant's Causeway seem almost man-made. That's why their creation was attributed to legendary giant Finn McCool, wanting to cross over to Scotland. But the Giant's Causeway is all natural. And certainly a wonder.

It also featured on the cover of Led Zeppelin's album "Houses of the Holy", so rock fans might like to hang out here too.


2. Slieve League

Slieve League - A Long Drop Down
© 2007 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

Imagine driving up a steep hillside ... and suddenly facing a sheer drop of a few hundred feet down into the ocean. Not an uncommon occurrence in the Irish west. But the steepest drop of them all is in Donegal. The cliffs of Slieve League tower feet above the Atlantic. Watch your step!

These towering cliffs are, by the way, dwarfing the Cliffs of Moher ... and access is free to boot. 


3. The Burren

The Burren is Bleak ...
© 2007 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

Bleak, bleak, bleak ... the Burren is certainly not easy on the eye. Its grey limestone plateau is scarred by ages of rain and constant erosion. Less dusty than the moon, mainly due to lots of wind, but called a lunar landscape nonetheless. And strangely compelling - even though there seems nothing to be worth looking at first, you can’t look away.


4. Shannon and Erne

Cruising on Lower Lough Erne
© 2007 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

Both the mighty Shannon and the great Erne have their humble origins in County Cavan, but soon proceed to run radically different courses. Not only as rivers, but also as loughs (lakes). And both are a paradise for anglers, boaters, bird-watchers and all other outdoor-sy folk. Note that the shores may not always be as accessible as one would like - private ownership is often a problem in this regard.


5. Rainbows and Nightskies

Lunar Eclipse over Ireland
© 2007 Bernd Biege licensed to About.com, Inc.

I have lived in Ireland for what seems like ages now. But these celestial wonders never cease to amaze me. Rainbows are often seen and of extraordinary brightness, though the proverbial pot of gold still eludes me. And the sky at night (outside the urban areas, naturally) is often so clear that you seem to fall into it.

6. Basking Sharks

You think "Jaws" was scary? Try meeting a basking shark in Irish waters! Fortunately these giants are quite gentle, feeding on small fry only and not at all dangerous to humans. Unless the latter die of a heart attack while snorkelling across the big beasts peaceful path. On a curious note: the seminal movie "Man of Aran" shows island folk go hunting for those sharks ... a tradition that had already died out at the time, the hunt was staged.


7. The Bog of Allen

Ireland's boglands are numerous and vast, but the Bog of Allen northeast of Kildare Town is one of the easiest to find. And quite spectacular, with endless flat lands suddenly interrupted by hills breaking through the monotonous bogland. Rising from the bog like an island from the sea.

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