Nicholas DeRenzo
Mar 2021

If you’re patiently waiting for your dream getaway to Ireland, you may be surprised to learn that the United States is filled with destinations that are spiritually, architecturally, and even geologically linked with the Emerald Isle. These five spots — from a stirring famine memorial to a kitschy llama-filled castle — will have you swearing you’re in Ireland.

Devils Tower National Monument / Credit: Getty Images; Inset: The Giant’s Causeway / Credit: Getty Images

If you can’t make it to: The Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Visit: Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming

One of the world’s most unusual geological formations, The Giant’s Causeway — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — comprises some 40,000 interlocking basalt columns jutting out of the sea like a three-dimensional bar graph. According to legend, these hexagonal volcanic rocks are the remnants of a bridge that the mythical giant Finn MacCool built to cross the North Channel to fight a Scottish giant. There are plenty of other striking column formations around the world—including Devils Postpile National Monument in California and the Svartifoss waterfall in Iceland — but one of the most dramatic within the United States is Wyoming’s Devils Tower National Monument, about 100 miles northwest of Rapid City, South Dakota, where pentagonal and hexagonal columns coalesce to form a staggeringly immense 867-foot-tall butte.

The Wicked Monk in Brooklyn / Courtesy of The Wicked Monk; Inset: The Temple Bar in Dublin / Credit: Alamy

If you can’t make it to: The Temple Bar in Dublin

Visit: The Wicked Monk in Brooklyn

Many Irish pubs in the States claim to have been built in Ireland — and that’s technically true. Manufacturers ship mail-order parts across the world to be reassembled in place and mimic the real thing. But if you head deep into Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood, at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, you’ll find a pub with some truly historic interiors. The wooden bar, the gargoyles, the stained glass, the pulpit and the pews were shipped in from the 1897 Gothic Revival chapel of the Greenmount Monastery in Cork. Look upward for an all-American addition: a 36-foot-long ceiling mural of the bar owner’s friends hanging with cherubs and tipsy monks.

The Irish Hunger Memorial / Credit: Alamy; Inset: Doolough Valley Famine Memorial / Credit: Alamy

If you can’t make it to: One of Ireland’s many Great Famine memorials

Visit: The Irish Hunger Memorial in New York City

Opened in 2002, this lovely half-acre memorial in Downtown Manhattan’s Battery Park City was built to honor the more than one million people who died of starvation between 1845 and 1852. Artist Brian Tolle incorporated a reconstructed famine-era cottage that was donated by his Irish extended family, disassembled and shipped over from County Mayo. The surrounding pastoral landscape — meant to evoke a fallow potato field — includes native Irish plants, such as heather and foxglove, and stones from all 32 counties in Ireland.

Open Gate Brewery / Courtesy; Inset: Guinness Storehouse / Courtesy of Guinness Storehouse

If you can’t make it to: The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

Visit: The Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Baltimore

Filled with playful interactive exhibits, the Dublin HQ of Guinness skews more Willy Wonka than your traditional brewery tour experience. The Maryland facility is the U.S. home of the landmark brand—the first since the Long Island location closed in 1954. Open Gate has produced more than 150 recipes to date, with roughly 20 beers available on tap each day.

ShangriLlama / Courtesy of ShangriLlama; Inset: Waterford Castle / Credit: Alamy

If you can’t make it to: Waterford Castle Resort & Golf in County Waterford

Visit: ShangriLlama in Royse City, Texas

Set in the eponymous crystal-producing city in southeastern Ireland, Waterford Castle is an imposing neo-Gothic structure built in 1895, incorporating elements of a medieval tower house. It was transformed into a resort in the 1980s. There’s a surprisingly realistic lookalike 40 minutes northeast of Dallas — though its residents look a little different from the ones you’d find in the original. Built in 2005 as a private home, this replica castle was transformed in 2018 into a wedding venue and llama ranch, where visitors can hike through the surrounding woods with furry companions like the Dalai Llama and Barack O’Llama.

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