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Carrick-a-Rede Rope BridgeHappy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of this cherished holiday, we scoured our forums to find out what our readers like most about Ireland — and it turns out there’s a lot to love in the Emerald Isle. From thousand-year-old ruins to wind-swept coastal towns, below are seven magical must-see places and itineraries in Ireland, recommended by our well-traveled readers.

Have you been to Ireland? Share your favorite Ireland sites in the comments.

1. “I recently took a trip to Ireland and visited Skellig Michael, a World Heritage Site off the country’s western coast. It was probably the most amazing place I have ever visited. It is a barren island (covered in puffins!) that housed a colony of monks more than 1,000 years ago. I had to climb 700 feet of steep stone steps to see the monks’ ancient beehive-shaped dwellings, which are still almost completely intact.” — Metravellongtime

2. “Surrounded by mountains, Belfast is pristine, clean and elegant. Gorgeous architecture, great shopping, friendly people. It offers opera, theater, restaurants, plus a great nightlife.” — costelj1

3. “I liked Hore Abbey, in Cashel, County Tipperary. Naturally, everyone goes to the incredibly well-preserved Rock of Cashel, so imposing on its higher ground. The Rock is solid, but there’s something much more interesting about Hore in its ruined state. There’s no doubt that a mystical experience — an old white terrier bade us follow her to the abbey — helped consecrate my visit.” — WackyHeathen

4. “We spent one week on the Dingle peninsula, which I would highly recommend, one week in Galway, based outside of Clifden, and one week in Cork. I really enjoyed all three, which were very different.” — TheTraveler

5. “I loved the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge on the coast in County Antrim. The bridge is suspended about 100 feet above the water and leads to a teeny little island with great views of the coast. Walking over the bridge was pretty scary to me (you can feel it swaying a bit and I’m afraid of heights), but the views were worth it.” — soliteyah

6. “We have been to Ireland three times. We love the southwest area of Ireland — especially Killarney. The ring of Kerry is so beautiful, as is the Dingle Peninsula.” — dthebolt

7. “For the best places in Ireland, I gravitate to the west: Cork and especially West Cork for wild scenery and wonderful people; Connemara and Mayo — high mountains, kayaking, walking and great pubs; Sligo and Donegal — distinctive towns and a different culture than the rest of Ireland; and the north — unspoiled areas of great beauty and hospitable people. Overall, the people are Ireland’s greatest natural resource!” — fastnet

Want more Ireland advice? Visit our Ireland travel forum.

–written by Caroline Costello

Every Monday, we’ll post the answer to the previous week’s Photo Friday quiz. Play along with future photo guessing games by subscribing to our blog (top right).

The correct answer to last Friday’s photo guessing game is Newgrange, Ireland! This 5,000-year-old tomb mound in County Meath predates the Pyramids at Giza and Stonehenge in England. Though it’s known for the way light illuminates its chamber for 17 minutes during every winter solstice, visitors can see this phenomenon recreated with artificial lights on other days throughout the year. Learn more about Newgrange, about an hour outside of Dublin, in Dublin Essentials.

car map man lost travelIs it dangerous to drive after dark in Ireland?

That question was posted on our message boards earlier this week by a reader planning an upcoming trip to the Emerald Isle. While several members offered reassurance that driving in Ireland doesn’t necessarily require careening along narrow cliff-side roads with no guard rails, the question isn’t an unreasonable one. No matter where you’re headed — and which side of the road you’re driving on — navigating a rental car around a foreign country can be one of travel’s most daunting experiences.

Years ago, a companion and I enjoyed a scenic but stressful drive along Italy’s Amalfi Coast, dodging Vespas and trying to ogle the gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea without missing a hairpin turn and hurtling into said sea. In the Caribbean, we steered around potholes big enough to deserve their own ZIP code. In Scotland, the country roads were so tight that we had to get up close and personal with “hairy coos” in the fields just to let other drivers pass in the opposite direction.

It’s all part of the fun of travel (or at least that’s what I tell myself after I get home, when I’m spinning tall tales of my adventures on the road). But let’s be honest: sometimes the effort isn’t worth it. In destinations with a robust public transportation system, I prefer to hop on a train and leave the driving to the professionals.

For places where that’s not a practical option (like, say, Ireland after dark), it’s best to slow down, invest in a good GPS unit and drive defensively. For more help, see our International Car Rental Tips.

What’s your best advice for driving in a foreign country?

– written by Sarah Schlichter