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    Walking into the past

    There’s no better way to understand the past than by walking through history in some of Ireland's oldest towns and cities

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    So says Neil Hegarty, author of Dublin: A View from the Ground. “History begins at the grassroots,” he notes. It’s layered in the streets and the buildings.” It’s also true that the low-rise, human scale of our cities and towns makes them an enticing prospect for a walk.

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    Christ church Cathedral, Dublin city


    Dublin’s history reaches back over 1,000 years and its position at the mouth of the River Liffey on Dublin Bay made it an enticing place to the Vikings who established a base here around 841. The city’s past is layered and complex but it’s a great way to unravel the past is with a guided walking tour. Dublinia, a museum that focusses on the city’s medieval and Viking history, run an interesting have developed a Walking Tour of Viking and Medieval Dublin, which is included in the entry to the museum and takes about 45 minutes (every day at 11pm, July excepted). Historical Insights , meanwhile, offer a two-hour walking tour that covers some of the city’s biggest events on a walk that brings you from Trinity College to Temple Bar, Grafton Street and St Stephen’s Green, among others. Or take a trip into the city’s modern history with a guided tour of Glasnevin Cemetery, where some of the most important figures from Ireland’s history are buried.

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    Titanic Belfast, Belfast city


    A vastly different city, Belfast’s setting on the banks of the River Lagan and at the western end of Belfast Lough contributed to it become a major shipbuilding centre in the 19th and 20th centuries. By the by the early 1900s, Belfast was one of the most important shipbuilding centres in the world, and was the very place that built the Titanic.

    You can walk the Titanic Trail, a free, self-guided trail that can be downloaded to a mobile, but if you want more detail on Belfast’s Titanic history, then a guided tour is the way to go. The Titanic Walking Tour Belfast brings you to the place the Titanic was designed, launched, and dry-docked, including a visit to the Titanic Drawing Offices, in what is now the Titanic Hotel.

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    Cobh Harbour, County Cork


    “Titanoraks” should also pay a visit to the pretty town of Cobh, near Cork city, Titanic’s last port of call. The Titanic Experience is located in the original White Star Line offices, and much of the town has remained unchanged since Titanic visited, including the pier from which passengers embarked. The Titanic Tour Cobh is perfect for uncovering more about Cobh’s history and gives great insights into the town’s relationship with the “Ship of Dreams”.

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    The walls of Derry~Londonderry


    Derry~Londonderry is the only completely walled city on the island of Ireland and it’s one of Europe’s finest walled cities, too! Walking these walls is a must-do on any visit to the city, but to get more from the experience, it’s best to go with a guide who can bring to life the stories behind these 17th century bastions. The Historic City Walls Walking Tour is ideal for getting an insights into the walls, the Siege of Derry and the plantation of Ulster. For a different perspective on the city’s history, check out Martin McCrossan’s City Walking Tours and take a Private History Tour of the Bogside, which encompasses the Bogside Murals, the monuments and the Free Derry Corner.

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    Carlingford, County Louth


    With a gorgeous location on the Cooley Peninsula, sitting snugly between the clear waters of Carlingford Lough and the mountain of Slieve Foy, Carlingford is a medieval town packed with history. It’s one of the best preserved medieval villages in Ireland and is a great place to mix history with a dose of outdoor activity. The Medieval Town Tour here focusses on Carlingford’s history and covers sites such as the Dominican Priory, the Thosel, Taaffe’s Castle and King John’s Castle.

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    The Long Walk, Galway city


    Did you know that Galway was once a walled city? You can still see segments – most notably at the famous Spanish Arch – where the original line of the town wall can be traced to the Galway City Museum. Today the city is famed for its big-spirited, bohemian buzz, but the city’s history really does add an intriguing edge to this Wild Atlantic Way gem. Galway Walking Tours will bring you through the history of the city taking in some of the most important sights including Lynch’s Castle, St Nicholas’s Church, the King’s Head pub, Kirwan’s Lane and Blake’s Castle. Afterwards, treat yourself to a Guinness and a spot of trad music in some of the city’s lively pubs, including Taaffes Bar, The Crane and Tig Chóilí.