Explore Ireland's rich history on a language study trip
By Hebe Adventures

A study holiday in Ireland is not only a language trip, but also an opportunity to get to know a new culture. This can be done in various ways and one of the best is to explore its history.

Knowing the history of a country allows you to fully understand its identity and cultural heritage. Ireland boasts a very interesting past, in which Celtic civilizations, Viking invasions and Norman conquests alternated. Historic sites, such as ancient monuments, medieval castles and places of worship, offer a tangible link to the past, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the events that shaped the nation. Some of these are still well preserved and immersed in an enchanting natural landscape, which makes them a very pleasant attraction to visit.

But culture was also formed thanks to the work of scholars, writers and artists who have had worldwide influence, just think of Oscar Wilde or James Joyce. Reading up before your holiday in English is a great way to learn more and plan which places to visit once you're there. There's nothing like seeing for yourself where history was written or where memories of local art and culture are kept.

Ancient sites, castles, museums and cities to explore to learn about Irish history

Ireland is rich in historical evidence scattered throughout its territory. You can plan tours to make the most of the free weekends during your English stay, or arrange for field trips after your summer English courses. Below we list some historical places not to be missed.

The ancient sites

During an English holiday you can visit a variety of ancient sites, including archaeological and historical monuments which hold immense cultural, social and religious significance. Not only do they show the architectural brilliance of ancient civilizations, but they are still visible evidence of Ireland's prehistoric and medieval past, leaving visitors in awe of the ingenuity with which they were built.

Among these we highlight:

  • Hill of Tara, County Meath and approximately 45 kilometers north of Dublin, which was the ancient seat of the High Kings of Ireland and played a central role in Irish mythology and civilization. The site is a great spot to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and is home to various monuments, earthworks and stone cairns.
  • The Rock of Cashel, another iconic site in County Tipperary, also known as St Patrick's Rock. It is a medieval complex with a spectacular collection of ecclesiastical ruins, including a 12th-century round tower and a Gothic cathedral.
  • The ancient 6th century monastic settlement of Glendalough, County Wicklow, featuring well-preserved medieval ruins set in a serene natural landscape.
  • Brú na Bóinne, located in County Meath and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its ancient megalithic monuments, especially Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. It is estimated that these monuments date back over 5,000 years, before the Egyptian pyramids. The site is of great archaeological and historical importance, offering visitors a glimpse into the prehistoric past and the remarkable engineering skills of the Neolithic inhabitants.

The most famous castles

There are a number of castles in Ireland, built to provide protection or serve as noble residences in medieval times. Some of them are still in a good state of conservation and fascinate visitors thanks to their architecture and the natural context in which they are inserted. Among the most significant are:

  • Dublin Castle, located in the heart of the capital, offering a testament to Ireland's Norman and British history, still retaining the original medieval fortress.
  • Blarney Castle, located in County Cork, famous for the legendary Blarney Stone, which is believed to grant eloquence to those who kiss it.
  • Bunratty Castle, County Clare, a meticulously restored fortress showcasing medieval life through its furnished rooms and village brimming with traditional crafts and activities.
  • Kilkenny Castle, located in County Kilkenny, which features a mix of medieval and Victorian architecture, and is surrounded by beautiful gardens.
  • Dunguaire Castle, County Galway, with its medieval banquets transporting visitors back to the age of chivalry.


Ireland's museums hold artefacts, art and historical objects, testament to the country's diverse heritage. They also offer informative exhibitions, guided tours and educational programmes, which make the visit even more interesting. There are various types of museums to choose from, depending on your interests. In particular we mention the following:

  • The National Museums of Ireland, with locations in Dublin and throughout the country, presenting a range of archeology, decorative arts and natural history collections.
  • The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, with an impressive collection of rare manuscripts, prints and books from different cultures and periods.
  • The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, which houses a large collection of European and Irish art, including works by famous painters such as Caravaggio and Vermeer.
  • The Cork Public Museum, which brings together some of County Cork's history and heritage, providing insights into the region's archaeology, arts and culture.

Historic cities

Important centers of commerce, culture and political activity, Irish cities offer a wide variety of monuments to visit. Among the main ones are:

  • Dublin, the country's capital and cultural, economic and political centre, has many monuments such as Dublin Castle and Trinity College, places that have played a significant role in the history of Ireland.
  • Galway, a city located on the west coast, in the county of the same name, is known for its medieval streets, such as the famous Shop Street, full of traditional pubs, shops and restaurants. The city is also a gateway to the beautiful landscapes of Connemara, the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher.
  • Kilkenny, a historic city located in the southeast, renowned for its medieval architecture, including Kilkenny Castle and St. Canice's Cathedral.
  • Cork, located to the south west, boasting a rich maritime history and ancient architecture such as St. Fin Barre's Cathedral, the English Market and the Cork City Goal. The city is also a gateway to the beautiful countryside of the county of the same name, which is home to the aforementioned Blarney Castle.

These places, concentrates of architecture, monuments and museums, offer the opportunity to deepen the historical knowledge of Ireland. They are an excellent base for a stay in English, as well as strategic starting points for hiking and discovering the wonderful surrounding natural landscape.

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