If you want to get a sense of the Irish people and their past it’s best to get off the beaten track and head outside the major cities. Immerse yourself in the beauty and history of Ireland’s small towns and villages.

Instead of falling into the more obvious tourist traps, take a look at some of Ireland’s historic villages, many with their roots in Celtic monasteries, the Normans, or the Vikings.

Here’s my pick of the top ten:

1. Cobh, County Cork

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Located just southeast of Cork City, Cobh derives much of its colorful history from its port and proximity to the sea.

During the Great Famine, millions of Irish people left Ireland from Cobh, travelling to their new life in America and Canada. It was also the last port of call for the Titanic, one hundred years ago, before the Belfast-built ship met its tragic end.

2. Birr, County…

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