Saint Patrick, the fifth-century bishop remembered every March 17, is known as the “Apostle of Ireland.” In his honor, we’ve collected some of the most beautiful photos of the country submitted to the Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest over the years. From Celtic crosses to centuries-old castles, these lush landscapes may motivate you to add Ireland to your travel bucket list, if it wasn’t already there. Take a look.  

Claddagh Quay
Charming residences dot Claddagh Quay across the bay on a beautiful May day. Pat Trudeau, County Galway, 2017
Celtic (or Irish) crosses
Celtic (or Irish) crosses, which date back to the eighth century, are used to mark graves at this cemetery on the island of Inisheer. Betty Leung, County Galway, 2023

A signpost
Decisions, decisions. A signpost in Ballyvaughan offers travelers too many choices. Linda Roy Walls, County Clare, 2012
Horse on the island of Inishmore
They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but this horse on the island of Inishmore wanted to see for itself. Amy Chen, County Galway, 2017
Cong Abbey
What remains of Cong Abbey, built in the 13th century, is a testament to the builders and is still lovely enough to inspire awe. Hannah Petty, County Mayo, 2018

A brightly colored door
A brightly colored door accents this neutral-toned, modest stone abode overlooking the sea in Ballinskelligs. Andrea Gluckman, County Kerry, 2018
a dozen cows graze
More than a dozen cows graze and amble on a hillside under a beautiful sky. Larry Angier, County Meath, 2019
Buildings along the River Nore
Buildings along the River Nore in Kilkenny are reflected in the calm waters flowing under a bridge. Matthew Jackson, County Kilkenny, 2015

Trinity College
Founded in 1592, Trinity College Dublin currently enrolls around 20,000 students who get to enjoy lovely architecture, along with books, when visiting the campus library. Steve Howard, County Dublin, 2015
The shore of Ardara
Large jagged stones along the shore of Ardara stand in stark contrast to the momentarily calm seas of the Atlantic with the sun on the horizon. Pawel Zygmunt, County Donegal, 2021
A stone church
A stone church in the Irish capital seemingly reaches up to the heavens. Estefania Gomez, County Dublin, 2014
Kylemore Abbey
On the shores of Pollacapall Lough, Kylemore Abbey has been home to an order of nuns for more than a century. Mildred Gallo, County Galway, 2012
narrow stream flows into Dingle Bay
Surrounded by greenery, a narrow stream flows into Dingle Bay. Nicholas Johnson, County Kerry, 2013

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