Main Street, in Dingle, County Kerry.
Main Street, in Dingle, County Kerry. Tourism Ireland / Irish Content Pool

Condé Nast Traveller has published a list of the prettiest villages and small towns on the Emerald Isle.

The prestigious travel magazine and website has singled out 12 Irish villages and small towns for their charm, character and beauty. The historic, picturesque settings often offer a glimpse into the past.

“Ireland’s beautiful villages and small towns, with their clusters of whitewashed cottages, mossy churchyards and low-rafter pubs that still sell groceries along with a pint of stout, are living time capsules of the past. Some have only a single street lined with neat rows of slate roofs, rich lime render and solid sash windows, where locals gather in pubs that have had the same family names hanging over their half-doors for generations," Condé Nast Traveller writes.

“As remarkable for their setting as their character, they are often discovered around the bend of a road over a high plain or at the foot of a hilly lane, shimmering against the ocean after a summer shower or in the folds of a valley.”

Here are Ireland’s prettiest villages and small towns, according to Condé Nast Traveller.

1. Kinsale, County Cork

Kinsale, Co Cork. Credit: Getty
Kinsale, Co Cork. Credit: Getty

The historic port and fishing town on the Wild Atlantic Way has “narrow, cobbled lanes” and “19th-century architecture lacquered in dazzling colors.” Condé Nast writes that the County Cork port evokes “the very essence of a pirate’s enclave.”

2. Roundstone, County Galway

Condé Nast calls Roundstone in County Galway, against a backdrop of the Twelve Bens mountain range and “awe-inspiring” landscape, “the perfect Irish village.”

3. Inistioge, County Kilkenny

Inistioge, with its 19th-century village square and 10-arch limestone bridge over the River Nore, has provided the picture-perfect Irish setting for Hollywood films such as “Widow’s Peak” (1994) and “Circle of Friends” (1995).

4. Doolin, County Clare

This coastal village on County Clare’s Atlantic Coast, with its "brightly painted ribbon of thatched buildings," is known as the center of traditional Irish music.

5. Adare, County Limerick

Adare with “its neat rows of thatched cottages,” has been designated as a heritage town by the Irish government. The village is home to the opulent Adare Manor, named Ireland’s best luxury hotel.

6. Baltimore, County Cork

Baltimore, in west Cork, “dips and glides down narrow lanes flanked by Victorian cottages with sash windows and sandstone walls.” The harbor town’s shorefront boasts “a cluster of small pubs and 13th-century Dún na Séad Castle.”

7. Dalkey, County Dublin

Hollywood star Matt Damon called this Dublin suburb home during the COVID-19 lockdown. Condé Nast writes that Dalkey “has retained its independent, seaside-village vibe.” The town center “has remained medieval in character” and “its hillside has panoramic coastal views.”

8. Dingle, County Kerry

Dingle, in County Kerry, is a small port town on the Dingle Peninsula, with a “dramatic oceanfront setting” and a “comely streetscape.” The Gaeltacht is full of “provincial charm.”

9. Cashel, County Tipperary

Cashel, in County Tipperary, is a “quirky, lamplit settlement” lying “in the shadow of the Rock of Cashel,” the palace of Ireland’s High King, Brian Boru. The “narrow, twisting streets” of the village “are a mishmash of an architectural timeline.”

10. Dunmore East, County Waterford

Dunmore East is a picturesque fishing village in County Waterford. “Its amber-shaded sandstone coastline,” Condé Nast writes, “twists and turns past pristine beaches and secluded coves.” The town is home to “Ireland’s finest collection of thatched cottages.”

11. Westport, County Mayo

“Handsome, cheerfully painted buildings, drenched in flowers” attract visitors to Westport in County Mayo. The “pint-sized” town is located on the edge of an Atlantic inlet, next to Clew BAay. Beautiful stone bridges link the tree-lined banks of the Carrowbeg River.

12. Birr, County Offaly

The historic designated heritage town of Birr developed around Birr Castle Demesne and the River Camcor. According to Condé Nast, the “miniature Midlands hamlet has many grand edifices and architectural influences, from its Gothic castle to its neoclassical town hall.”

* Originally published on Nov 22, 2020.

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