Explore the Emerald Isle – seven Irish airports you can fly to from Manchester
No matter where you’re from, on March 17th everyone becomes a little (or very!) Irish, and the North West is no different. The Irish diaspora has left its mark on the region over the centuries and those links persist today. More than 60,000 of its residents identified as ‘White Irish’ in the 2021 Census, and some of the North West’s most culturally iconic names, from Wayne Rooney and Tyson Fury to Michelle Keegan and the Gallagher brothers, claim Irish roots.
More than 850,000 people flew to Ireland from Manchester Airport in the last year alone, and the North’s hub airport boasts unrivalled connections to the Emerald Isle, with no fewer than seven destinations served directly – the most of any UK airport.
Whether you’re visiting relatives or enjoying a city break, each corner of Ireland offers something unique for travellers – not just on St Patrick’s Day, but all year round.
The Republic of Ireland’s capital is one of the world’s most popular city break destinations and more than 10,000 people are expected to travel here from Manchester Airport this weekend alone, placing it in the airport’s top five most popular destinations overall.
The Temple Bar district is Dublin’s beating heart with some of Europe’s best spots to eat and drink, and comes alive on St Patrick’s Day. More than half a million people sporting emerald jerseys, novelty hats and an excess of Irish paraphernalia spill onto the streets to enjoy its famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The capital of Northern Ireland and the largest city in Ulster, Belfast has a wealth of history and cultural sites. Visitors can explore the Titanic Museum (the famous cruise liner was built in the city’s docks) and take a trip up the scenic Antrim coast road to the world-famous Giant’s Causeway.
On St Patrick’s Day, Belfast offers visitors a welcoming and authentically Irish experience. The free parade begins at 1:30pm at Belfast City Hall and weaves its way through the city before finishing with a concert showcasing performances from local musicians and dancers.
Derry / Londonderry
This vibrant city on the River Foyle is steeped in history. It is known for its remarkably preserved 17th Century city walls, and in the 20th Century it was the backdrop to some of the most notorious events of The Troubles. More recently, it has become a beacon for reconciliation and cooperation, and has a burgeoning arts scene. It is also the setting for the hit series Derry Girls, and visitors can take a guided tour of the Channel 4 show’s original sites.
Formerly known as Knock, this airport serves a rural and rugged corner of Ireland, but is also the gateway to one of the country’s most recognisable cities, Galway. The Latin Quarter in the city centre is a cultural gem, dotted with cafes, restaurants and pubs with lively traditional Irish music. Despite Ireland West Airport’s apparently isolated location, many famous faces have flown through in recent years, including Joe Biden, Pope Francis and Rory McIlroy.
Shannon Airport is located just outside Limerick, a city with much more to offer than humorous five-line stanzas. Its castle and St Mary's Cathedral are nearly 1,000 years old, and it also boasts charming Georgian architecture juxtaposed with a thriving modern quayside. The weekend Milk Market, with a huge range of local produce on offer, is the jewel in the crown of the city’s growing culinary reputation.
County Kerry is home to Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain, and the picturesque Killarney National Park with forests, lakes and waterfalls, all of which can be explored on the 200km Kerry Way walking trail. The county’s wild and windy coastline is dotted with sheltered sandy coves and dramatic cliffs. With so much striking scenery packed into an area not much larger than Lancashire, Kerry draws tourists looking to make the most of the great outdoors.
The Republic’s second city is a great candidate for a weekend break. Blarney Castle is one of Ireland’s best preserved medieval fortresses and is well worth a visit. Cork’s other cultural highlights include its 1,000 seat opera house, its Victorian Quarter, and The English Market, selling local produce.
The city is running a three-day St. Patrick's Festival from 16 – 19 March, with a parade, musical performances and a food trail.
How to get there
Ryanair serves all seven of our Irish destinations. Irish flag carrier AerLingus will take you to Dublin and Belfast City airports, and easyJet flies from Manchester to Belfast International.
You can find out more about booking a trip to Ireland on the Manchester Airport website – visit www.manchesterairport.co.uk/destinations-and-guides.