The Old Head of Kinsale in Cork, Ballybunion Golf Club in Kerry and Adare Manor in Limerick. All world-famous golf destinations in their own right and all located within a relatively small distance of one another. In terms of testing your own raw-powered drive and the yardstick in general, it's hard to find better courses anywhere in the world. Add to this some of the most spectacular vistas you'll find on any golf course and it's safe to say that golfing in Ireland's Southwest is as good as it gets.
Calling on designers and collaborators from a diverse range of golfing fields and relying on the stunning setting presented by mother nature, the Old Head Of Kinsale has grown to become one of the planet's most sought after golfing days out. Built on a 220-acre near chunk of land that reaches out over two miles into the Atlantic Ocean, with a lighthouse at its peak and the ocean surrounding you at all sides, it really is a golfing experience like no other. The par 72, 18 holes are broken down by five Par 5s, five Par 3s and eight Par 4s, nine of which play along the cliff tops. Enjoy oak lined locker rooms, a warm up range, a putting green and an area to practice your short game. There's also an executive helicopter service, should the mood take you.
Situated on the banks of the Lee in the Little Island area, Cork Golf Club intermixes its parkland character with many of the most enjoyable aspects of linksl and terrain. Throughout the year, the turf is firm and dry like a links course which makes shot making an interesting challenge. Designed by Alister MacKenzie in the early 1900s, this course makes good use of a landscape which was previously used as a quarry, with lots of interesting changes in elevation. Cork Golf Club, also known as Little Island Golf CLub, is full of character and brings local and visiting golfers back again and again.
Until the 1980s, when Tom Watson declared it one of the world's finest golf courses, Ballybunion was largely unknown to the outside world. Since that time, however, its carpark has been full of coaches and limousines as golf fans from all backgrounds pay tribute to a links course that truly sets the standard. Summer visitors should expect to book as much as a full year in advance.
In 2006, the completion of a four-year course redesign by architect Martin Hawtree saw Dooks emerge as one of the truly great courses in links golf. And yet it remains relatively unknown internationally. The good news is that the best-kept secret of Irish golf has very affordable green fees and comparatively quiet tees as a result. Against the charming backdrop of Dingle Bay, take on a links course that presents challenges for all golfers while remaining accessible for all abilities.
With so much challenging links golf to be had throughout County Kerry, the Killeen and Mahoney's Point courses in Killarney can be a welcome change, and both stand out for their distinctly Irish interpretation of parkland play. Originally built out of one Old Course, today's two courses show little evidence of dilution and both can be counted among the Emerald Isle's very best parkland offerings. The Killeen Course is noted for the outstanding quality of its greens. Mahoney's Point stands out because of its stunning views across the lake to the mountains beyond.
A uniquely Irish parkland, the Ring of Kerry course is woven into a landscape that could have been created for golf. From this high-up vantage point, players behold a scene of quintessentially Irish beauty, with Kenmare Bay below - bejewelled by tiny islets - and the Caha Mountains beyond. The playing surface is quite firm for a parkland, giving the play a slightly links-like feel. And the frequent threat of long grass and patches of gorse add to the sense that this perhaps more a hybrid than a pure parkland. However you categorise it, few will dispute that this is a fantastic course which makes great use of a challenging mountain landscape.
Visiting Tralee's rugged coastline before he began work on what would be his first and perhaps his finest European course, architect Arnold Palmer observed that he had never seen a more perfect place to build a golf course. A windswept links course with a fairly flat front nine, Tralee always holds the threat of challenging weather which can disappear as quickly as it emerges from the brooding Atlantic. According to Tom Clarke,
The back nine is the more dramatic overall, although the 2nd and 3rd ensure it doesn't have it all its own way – first an awe-inspiring 600-yarder doglegging round the cliffs, then a daunting par 3 on the very edge of the rocky shoreline.
Designed by John Mulcahy and opened in 1972, Waterville is famous for its gruelling, unforgiving length. But those who travel here to experience the punishment for themselves may be disappointed. The competition tees (7,378 yards) are more than 500 yards longer than the white tees and are usually off-limits to non-competitive players. This makes Waterville actually shorter than several of Ireland's top-name courses. Still, the disappointment will not last long and this traditional Irish links offers a great afternoon's golf to all who make the trip.
Adare is a small town in Co. Limerick, known for its quaint and colourful thatched cottages. Adare is considered to be one of Ireland's most beautiful towns so stop and take in the view. Don't forget your camera today - the perfect chance to capture the essence of old Ireland.
Explore Adare Village along the Wild Atlantic Way
Take a journey through this once troubled city. See the murals of the Loyalist Shankill Road & Nationalist Falls Road. The Troubles took their toll on the economic life of Belfast but the past ten years of peace have returned much prosperity while the genuine friendliness of the city never left.
Originally built in 1823, Blarney Woollen Mills was mainly used for the spinning and weaving of wool. After it closed in 1973, it reopened in 1975 — as an Irish heritage shop.
The Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre commemorates the last pitched battle fought on British soil, in April 1746. Learn more about the Jacobite intent to overthrow the House of Hanover and return the House of Stuart to the British throne.
Located within Glenveagh National Park, Glenveagh Castle was built by Captain John George Adair between 1870 and 1873. Having made his fortune through land speculation in America, Adair return to Ireland and began large amounts of land in County Donegal. The castle was built in the Scottish Baronial style and is surrounded by a garden and commands stunning views of the nearby mountains, lakes, woodlands and valleys.
About Highland Folk Museum is a museum and open-air attraction located in the Scottish Highlands. It is designed to showcase the domestic and working lives of the early highland people.
Located alongside the River Shannon in County Limerick, on King's Island. Dating back to 922, to a time when Vikings were the inhabitants of the island (Thormodr Helgason, the Viking sea-king, built the first settlement here. The castle itself was built in 1200, under the instruction of King John of England.
Located close to the Killarney National Park, Moriarty's is an Authentic Irish Gift Store and Restaurant. Hand crafted Irish jewellery, Waterford Crystal and classic and modern tweed fashions and furnishings are all on offer at the gift store. The restaurant is an 85 seater offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Mount Congreve Gardens. Located in Kilmeaden, County Waterford, Mount Congreve Gardens is an 18th century Georgian estate and mansion. It was designed by the same architect that created both of Waterford's cathedrals, John Roberts.
Recently recognised as being one of the top 10 gardens in the world, Mount Stewart is a rich tapestry of planting plant life and stunning walking trails. The house dates back to the 19th century, and was the Irish seat of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family.
Located on the grounds of the expansive and idylic Killarney National Park. Muckross House, and its 11,000-acre grounds, was donated to the Irish state in 1932.
Located on the grounds of the picturesque Muckross House and its impeccable gardens. Take a step back in time and see the Irish farming lifestyle of the 1930s and '40s. A time when the horse was responsible for much of the labour and the weather was the be all and end all in terms of production.
The Quiet Man Museum. A reproduction of the quaint thatched cottage from the John Wayne starring, John Ford directed movie of the same name. all costumes, artifacts and furnishings have been recreated in precise detail, to reflect the setting of the 1952 classic. Located in the picturesque village of Cong, County Mayo.