Ireland's Ancient East
Welcome to Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland.
Wicklow is located thirty minutes South of Dublin City Centre. From Mountains to Sea, Wicklow’s landscape is unique: cliffs, sandy beaches, rolling mountains, hidden lakes, bogs, friendly villages, etc.
Wicklow is at the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East: visit pre-historic places of worship; follow in the footsteps of St Kevin in Glendalough’s 6th Century monastic site; experience the troubled times of the 1798 Rebellion in Wicklow Gaol; admire the grandeur of Russborough or Killruddery houses; wander through Ireland’s most beautiful gardens like Powerscourt or Mount Usher.
Wicklow is Ireland’s premier outdoor destination: walk or cycle the Wicklow mountains. Play on some of Ireland’s best links and parkland golf courses. Drive through stunning landscape. Fish along the coast, rivers or lakes. Wicklow has it all!
Wexford, located in the sunny South East of Ireland is the ideal location for a restful and rejuvenating break. Wexford is famous for its rich history, the story of which is told through the numerous visitor attractions in the county.
The Irish National Heritage Park will take you on a tour of how the Irish lived, worshipped and died from the stone age to the 12th Century; the Dunbrody Heritage Ship in New Ross – a replica of a 19th Century famine ship that transported the Irish to the new world; the medieval Hook Lighthouse – where monks kept the fire alight as far back as the 5th Century; add to these the National 1798 Rebellion Centre in Enniscorthy, the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, Wells House & Gardens, Tintern Abbey, The Ros Tapestry and the JFK Arboretum and you get the finest array of quality visitor attractions.
You can also visit Wexford Twon and spend a day strolling around its historic streets and home to the National Opera House.
Or if it’s beaches you’re after, discover the beautiful sands of Morricastle, Carne, Duncannon and Curracloe. And don’t foget Kilmore Quay, the perfect base to explore the Saltee Islands – one of the best places in Ireland to see puffins in the wild.
Waterford offers visitors a choice between a cosmopiltan vibrant city, charming seaside resorts with miles of sandy beaches and countryside getaway locations set against the backdrop of the Comeragh Mountains.
Waterford City is the oldest city in Ireland, founded in 914 AD by The Vikings. Explore it’s historic past in the Medieval Museum – one of a trio of Museums called Waterford Treasures which also incorporates The Bishop’s Palace and Reginald’s Tower. Also located in in the Viking Triangle is the world famous House of Waterford Crystal where you can take a factory tour of the iconic Irish brand.
Twenty minutes outside of the city, check out the golden sands and clear waters of Tramore. You can also pay a visit to the nearby and fascinating Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens, built as a tribute to locally born writer Patrick Lafcadio Hearn.
Next, take to the road and discover the Copper Coast. The spectacular coastal driving route is now a UNESCO Global Geopark, featuring 25km of beautiful shoreline.
Check out the Waterford Greenway, Ireland’s longest greenway, and one of the highlights of any trip to Waterford.
From the charm of rural towns and villages like Dungarvan, Lismore, Cappoquinn and Ballymacarbry to the resort villages of Ardmore, Dunmore and Tramore there is something to appeal to all tastes.
Tipperary is a treasure waiting to be explored. From its stunning mountains and rolling hills to the breathtaking Lough Derg – Ireland’s second largest lake – and the majestic River Suir, the sixth largest county on the island of Ireland is the proverbial playground for those who like to explore the outdoors. Part of Ireland’s Ancient East and Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, it is steeped in history, with remnants of medieval Ireland across the county, including the world-famous Rock of Cashel, sitting imperiously in the centre of the county and a constant motif for the storied history of Tipperary.
Other highlights include Cahir Castle, The Swiss Cottage and The Lough Derg Way. The Premier County is waiting for you.
There’s no better place to visit if peering into the past makes for your perfect holiday. Top of the must-visit list is incredible Brú na Bóinne with the passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. These burial places predate the pyramids so it’s little wonder they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Meanwhile, in the heritage town of Trim, you’ll find the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. With its impressive and beautifully preserved grounds, it’s no surprise that it was a location for the movie ‘Braveheart’.
Other options include wonderful fishing and walking in the Boyne Valley, site of the famous battle. If you have grandkids, Tayto Park in Ashbourne is sure to appeal. For those in search of playgrounds with tees and greens, head for the famous golf links at Laytown and Bettystown. With their uninterrupted sands, fun parks and cosy eateries, these seaside villages have been popular holiday getaways for over 100 years. Laytown is also famous for its annual beach horserace meet – a cracking day out! If that tickles your fancy, you’ll be pleased to know that you can also enjoy a punt at Fairyhouse, home of the Irish Grand National, and Bellewstown. Or why not visit Slane Castle, host to some of Ireland’s most famous concerts including U2, Guns N’Roses, Bob Dylan and David Bowie to name but a few and the nearby Slane Distillery, where their triple-casked whiskey is crafted and distilled.
Louth has a rich medieval past. The town of Dundalk has connections with the mythical hero Cuchulainn. It is a vibrant shopping town and is home to the award-winning Country Museum and the magnificent St. Patrick’s Cathedral that dates back to 1837. Drogheda on the River Boyne, has many fascinating buildings including St. Laurence’s Gate, Milmount Motte and Martello Tower. The relics of St. Oliver Plunkett, martyred in 1681, are preserved in St. Peter’s Church. Just ten minutes from Drogheda, Beaulieu House and Gardens are well worth a visit. The heritage town of Carlingford displays its past in King John’s Castle and the interpretive centre. Along the coast of Louth, explore the charming fishing villages of Termonfeckin and Clogherhead before visiting the High Cross at Monasterboice.
Laois may be one of the smallest counties in Leinster but it has more than its fair share of things to see and do. Emo Court and Gardens in Portarlington with its long and colourful history has been restored to its former glory, and features over 35 hectares of landcaped grounds and a 20-acre lake. More stunning gardens can be explored at Heywood Gardens in Ballinakill which features no less than 50 acres of beautiful gardens, lakes and woodlands. For a more challenging walk, try the Slieve Bloom Mountains and discover a vast variety of landscapes, from blanket bogs and forestry paths, to wooded valleys and mountain streams. Or why not hop on a narrowboat from Barrowline Cruisers in the Grand Canal to explore the waterways and unspoilt beauty of the Barrow Valley. Also not to be missed in the O’Moore County are Timahoe Round Tower, The Rock of Dunamase and the 19th Century Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum.
Kilkenny City is the home of Irish craft and design and is one of the most vibrant and atmospheric places to stay in Ireland’s Ancient East. Explore The Kilkenny Design Centre which is in the old stables of historic Kilkenny Castle. The centre has amazing collections of jewellery, knitwear, gifts and glassware from some of the best craftspeople and designers in Ireland. Also at the Castle Yard, discover the National Design and Craft Gallery or wander across the road to The Butler Gallery which houses an impressive collection of 20th century art. No visit to the Marble City would be complete without a visit to Kilkenny Castle, Park and Gardens, St. Canice’s Cathedral and Round Tower and The Medeival Mile and Medieval Mile Musuem.
The county has a wealth of visitor attractions, from the wonders of Dunmore Cave and Jerpoint Abbey and Jerpoint Glass Studio to The Smithwicks Experience and Castlecomer Discovery Park, you’ll definetly want to return again and again to this county with its wealth of cultural experiences and great outdoor activities.
Also known as The Thoroughbred County, Kildare is famous for its horseracing festivals, horse racing empires and famous courses at Fairyhouse, Naas, The Curragh and Punchestown. The County is also steeped in history and heritage which is in no short supply in Maynooth, home to Maynooth College, founded in 1795 and Maynooth Castle, the ancestral home of the Fitzgeralds, the Earls of Kildare. If it’s style and glamour you’re after, stop by Newbridge Silverware on your way to Kildare Town to visit one of Ireland’s most iconic design brands. Fashion lovers and pop culture fans will enjoy the Museum of Style Icons collection at the visitor centre. Nearby Kildare Village is a shopping mecca with over 80 designer boutiques. Other Kildare highlights include Castletown House in Celbridge which is one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in Ireland, and of course the world famous Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens, visited by Queen Elizabeth in 2011 and the only stud farm in Ireland that’s open to the public.
Cork is the biggest county in Ireland and is part of both the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East. At the centre of it all, of course, lies Cork city itself. Oftern referred to as “the real capital” or “the People’s Republic” due to a long standing rivalry between Cork and the capital city Dublin. Famous city landmarks include The English Market with its food stalls from all over the world, Crawford Art Gallery, Munster’s regional art musuem and much loved cultural institution, The Shandon Bells in the 300-year-old tower of St. Anne’s Church and Cork City Gaol.
Cork is the ideal base to explore the rich diversity of Ireland’s Ancient East. Beyond the City, hear the age-old story of whisky making in Midleton in The Jameson Distillery, experience the lonely life of lighthouse keepers on Ballycotton Island or wander through time at Youghal’s clock tower. And if that’s not enough, explore Spike Island, previously used as an island prison, fortress, monastery and home or visit Blarney Castle, famous for the Blarney Stone. 10Km from the City discover Fota Wildlife Park and nearby Fota House and Gardens.
Carlow is a county with an exceptionally rich heritage – from Europe’s largest portal dolmen to the stunning 6th century riverside settlement of St. Mullins there is lots to explore. Uncover fascinating history, gorgeous gardens and wonderful scenery in Carlow, the gateway to the south east.
You won’t find a better place in Ireland for its range of fabulous gardens including Altmamont Gardens in Tullow, often regarded as the jewel in Ireland’s gardening crown, Duckett’s Grove, a former 19th Century great house on a 12,000 acre estate and Huntington Castle and Gardens where you’ll be captivated by its lime tree avenue and yew tree walk.
For chocolate and whiskey lovers, The Chocolate Garden of Ireland in Tullow is a must visit, whilst the Royal Oak Distillery is a real Carlow hidden gem.