Lists of reasons to take your holidays in Ireland could fill entire pages and books – for that matter, they undoubtedly do. It’s a wonderful country full of things to see and do, and it’s just the sort of place a lot of tourists tend to fall in love with.

Rather than deliver yet another article about the range of activities available around Ireland we’re zeroing in here on some of the most unique experiences the country has to offer. While these do go hand-in-hand with some major attractions, the focus is on things unlike anything you can experience anywhere else.

To save money when travelling around Ireland, consider purchasing a fuel card.

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Holidays in Ireland
Blarney Castle

The most obvious concept for a list like this, and yet it’s one that shouldn’t be left off. The Blarney Stone is a large stone near the top of the Blarney Castle, which was built in the mid-15th century. Different legends suggest the stone may have been acquired during one of the Crusades or it was from the same stones set in Stonehenge. Whatever the truth may be, it’s become a tradition for visitors to hang out of an opening at the top of the castle and kiss the stone. It’s said to give the gift of eloquence and persuasiveness, though at this point it’s also treated as a more general good luck charm by many.

Watching live hurling on your holidays in Ireland

Holidays in Ireland
Padraig Mannion (Galway), takes on John Power (Kilkenny) in a hurling match

Hurling – sometimes abbreviated to GAA for the organisation that presides over it – is a sport many outside of Ireland are not even aware of. Within Ireland however, it’s something of a national pastime. The GAA was first founded in 1887 and, while technically an amateur organisation, it is now one of the biggest and most beloved sporting entities in the country. Effectively a blend of lacrosse, football and field hockey, seeing it in person is certainly a uniquely Irish experience.

Staying in a castle
Holidays in Ireland
Ashford Castle

This is the least unique option on this list in that there are opportunities to stay in castles in many places all over the world. Because Ireland has so many well-preserved castles in such a relatively small expanse of country, however, you’ll have more opportunities there than anywhere else in the world. Plus, many of the castles are about as pretty as they come anywhere in Europe. We’d first recommend Ashford Castle, a 13th century castle and estate that has largely been transformed into a gorgeous luxury hotel.

For more ideas on what to do on your holidays in Ireland, read Ireland Travel by the History Book.

Kayaking under the stars

There are a lot of corners of the world where you can see far more stars than you typically get in the average night sky. Many of them, however, are in cold or remote places where it’s not particularly easy to stay outside and enjoy the view. Ireland has a spectacular exception in the form of Lough Hyne. There is a breathtaking night sky thanks to very limited light pollution, and for many years people have made a habit of kayaking out on the lough after dark for an experience so relaxing it’s almost spiritual.

Having a whiskey at Jameson

holidays in Ireland
Pop into Jameson’s distillery on your holidays in Ireland

Lastly, we don’t want to focus too much on Irish stereotypes – and drinking whiskey is certainly one of them – but not to mention Jameson would be improper. One of the most famous and well-respected distilleries in the world, you can visit it in Dublin. Something about having a whiskey at the Jameson distillery is too good to ignore if you’re a fan of this particular type of beverage.