Ireland’s Ancient East

Summary

With over 5,000 years of history, Ireland is an amazing location to get a sneak peek in the past. With 17 counties included in this terrific area, there are three main areas to explore the history.

 

In counties Cavan, Longford, Louth, Meath, Monaghan and Westmeath see the major prehistoric attractions of Newgrange, Cooley Peninsula and the Belvedere House

 

The historic heartlands encompasses counties Offaly, Laois, Kildare, Tipperary, Limerick, Carlow and Kilkenny. In these areas do not miss sights such as Castletown House, Rock of Cashel, Kilkenny Castle, Clonmacnoise and the Rock of Dunamase.

 

The amazing Celtic coast consists of counties Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford and East Cork. With Vikings, monasteries and lighthouses, be sure to see Glendalough, Hook Head, Waterford city and Cobh.

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Newgrange – Over 5,000 years old, the tomb of Newgrange is older than the pyramids of Egypt. The large round tomb is located in the heart of County Meath just north of Dublin. The most astonishing feature is only apparent on December 21st every year, as the winter solstice brings the rising sun light exactly into the entrance way, lighting the entire passageway and burial chamber.

 

Cooley Peninsula – Cooley Peninsula is known for being filled with legends, myth and magic. The heart of the peninsula lies in Carlingford, a medieval town with traces of both the Normans and Vikings. You can even find the last remaining leprechauns of Ireland at Carlingford’s Fairy Hill. There’s only said to be 236 remaining!

 

Belvedere House – A hunting lodge for Robert Rochfort, this amazing Victorian house was built in 1774. Be sure to also explore the amazing gardens surrounding the grounds.

Castletown House – Home of William Conolly, one of the riches men in Ireland at his time, this amazing estate was the first and largest Palladian manor in Ireland.

 

Rock of Cashel – The Rock of Cashel is rich in history as it has hosted the conversion of saints to kinds as well as brutal massacres. The builsing itself includes a Middle Age tower as well as Gothic cathedral and castle.

 

Kilkenny Castle – Home of the infamous Butler family since 1391, the Kilkenny castle now serves a cultural hub to the city. The castle was sold to the city in 1967 for a lowly £50.

 

Clonmacnoise – Despite contstant plundering by invaders such as the Vikings, Clonmacnoise still remains an important center of religion in Europe. The site was founded by St Ciaran and Diarmait mac Cerbaill on the banks of the River Shannon around the 6th century.

 

Rock of Dunamase – Tied to one of the most infamous Irish weddings, the Rock of Dunamase was part of a dowry given to Strongbow for his marriage to the King of Leinster, Aoife in the 12th century.

Glendalough – Nestled in the Wicklow Mountains National Park you can find the amazing green valley of Glendalough. Here lies one of Europe’s most important monastic sites, with the ruins of St Kevin’s retreat. With some good hiking shoes, you can explore the ruins of cathedral, round tower and six churches.

 

Hook Head – In County Wexford you can find the oldest intact operational lighthouse in the entire world. Built over 800 years ago by monks for the Earl of Pembroke, it acted as a beacon to warn incoming ships of rocky shores.

 

Waterford City – One of the oldest cities in Ireland, Waterford is home to more than just crystal. Experience the history of the city founded by Vikings in the late 9th century by exploring the Bishop’s Palace, Medieval Museum and Reginald’s Tower: all of which create what is known as the Viking Triangle.

 

Cobh – Located in Co. Cork, Cobh is a beautiful port town with an amazing Heritage Center. While the town used to be named Queenstown, it is most well-known as the last port of the RMS Titanic and the location where the survivors of the RMS Lusitania were ferried to.

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