Ireland is dotted with charming villages amidst beautiful scenery that offer the iconic look and feel that many visitors travel to Ireland to experience. So, how do you know which village or town to make your destination?
Here are two suggestions: Ardmore and Waterford.
Why Ardmore out of so many similar quaint villages?
Ardmore has become better-known than many other small Irish towns because American romance author Nora Roberts used it as the location for a trilogy she wrote. And Roberts was right in choosing Ardmore –Roberts shows Ardmore off as a village of friendly people, great pubs, toe-tapping music, and also of fairy hills and romance.
As the town comes alive in her novels Roberts expresses the beauty, longing, and myth and magic of the Emerald Isles.
Ardmore is a quaint little village of just over 400 people, which sits atop picturesque cliffs with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, and a lovely beach that is considered one of the best along the coast in all of south Ireland.
The name Ardmore means “Great Height,” and indeed the village is perched along steep ocean cliffs, allowing for the amazing views of the ocean one would get from such a great height.
This small fishing village and seaside resort is about 2 ½ hours from Dublin, and just an hour from the city of Waterford, so it’s relatively easy to get to.
Ardmore was established as a Christian outpost by St. Declan a number of years before the arrival to Ireland of St. Patrick, thus making Ardmore the oldest Christian settlement in the country.
One of the sites to visit in Ardmore is the ruins of the 13th century Cathedral. The Cathedral features outer walls with stone carvings placed there from the 9th century. It is here that you’ll also see two prime examples of Ogham stones. Also known as the “Celtic Tree Alphabet,” Ogham is an early medieval alphabet used to write orthodox inscriptions in the early Irish language.
St. Declan is buried here in his “holy monastery” of Ardmore.
Another site to visit is the 12-century round tower which is prominent from its elevated position above the village. Well-preserved, it is considered one of the best examples of the ancient bell tower complex, which were also thought to probably serve as a place of refuge either from severe weather or siege.
Ardmore has a great maritime tradition as over the centuries fishing was the primary source of living for its inhabitants, as well as the town’s perfect seaside location offering a great draw for tourism.
The sandy shores of the beach and the spectacular views from the cliff path that winds beside the coastline draw many for fun and the frolic as well as beauty and tranquility.
When one thinks of the great scuba-diving spots around the world, Ardmore would not be one that would often come up in conversation. However, in 1987 the ship “Samson” was wrecked just off the coast of Ardmore, and today the wreck is a very popular diving spot.
Today Ardmore offers several hotels and Bed and Breakfast establishments, as well as restaurants and pubs, all able to make your stay here enjoyable and comfortable.
However, if you choose to stay in a larger town, you can do so in Waterford, and visit Ardmore on day-trips.
Waterford has a population of just over 40,000 and offers a wealth of places for both history and culture.
Ireland’s oldest civic building is Waterford’s Reginald’s Tower, and it also lays claim to being the oldest monument in Ireland to still have its Viking name.
The maritime history of Waterford is impressive. It remained one of the major ports-of-call for Ireland for over a 1000 years. Its shipbuilding industry in the 1800s was known around the globe, especially its iron steamers, the largest fleet in the world during the 1850s and 1860s.
Today, of course, Waterford is world-renowned for its crystal glass works. From 1783 until 2009 crystal was manufactured in the city. Although no longer making crystal here, tourists can still go to the Waterford Crystal Visitors Centre located in the town’s Viking Quarter, which opened in 2010.
Other places of interest in Waterford include: Viking Triangle with the Waterford Museum of Treasures, the Garter Lane Arts Centre, and St. John’s College.
And check out these great activities offered by Waterford: the three theater companies of Red Kettle, Spraoi, and Waterford Youth Arts; the Waterford Film for All society; and the Barrack Street Concert Band.
And you certainly won’t want to miss Waterford’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade held every year on March 17th, or its annual Christmas festival Waterford Winterval.
Alice Perkins is a travel blogger for RedWeek.com, the largest online market place for timeshare rentals, where vacationers can find luxury accommodations for less than the cost of a typical hotel room.