What's really exciting is that it's possible explore the country on a cruise lasting just a few days. The luxurious touch cruising will add to your break definitely has a big appeal, but for me I think it's the convenience of travelling this way that really draws me in. If you live relatively near a UK port - you can take cruises from Liverpool in 2013, for instance - you can reach your ship to board in next to no time - and we all know short travel times are really important on mini breaks.
Plus, once you're on board, you can start enjoying yourself straight away, rather than standing in an airport queue or stuck on a motorway watching the clock slowly tick off the minutes of your precious holiday time. And, since cruises around Ireland can take as little as three nights while still giving you plenty of time in destinations like Dublin, they offer a great balance of speed and great experiences.
Now, let's talk about some of the fantastic historical attractions you might see during your trip.
The Guinness Storehouse
At first glance, a trip to the Guinness Storehouse might not seem like the most historical excursion - but the drink is actually an important part of Dublin's history, with the story of it going back approximately 250 years.
You'll find the Storehouse nestled in the heart of the Guinness Brewery, and you can take a self-guided tour of it to learn all about what goes into the famous beverage and how it's made.
You will also learn how to pull the perfect pint of Guinness, including being told how best to hold the glass and the all-important step of leaving it to settle halfway through being poured.
Jameson Heritage Centre
Another drinks-based historical attraction not to miss is the Jameson Heritage Centre in Midleton, Cork. Come here to see fantastically well preserved structures that date all the way back to 1825, and learn how they fit in to the local whiskey-manufacturing history.
As well as having a guided tour, you'll be able to watch a short film on the history of the distillery and have a tasting session - which is bound to be the real highlight, of course!
Dublin's Historical Highlights
I also recommend taking an in-depth tour of Dublin, because it's home to some real historical gems. On this kind of tour, you can see places like the famous Trinity College. I think the best part of coming here is heading into the Old Library, which is home to the Books of Kells, which is one of the world's most beautiful manuscripts and dates back to 800 AD.
Dublin Castle is another highlight. One of my favourite facts about it is that the city actually takes its name from a feature that used to be in what's now the garden, the Black Pool - or Dubh Linn, to use its historical name.
Some of the other buildings to keep an eye out for include the Custom House, Christchurch Cathedral and St Patrick's Cathedral.