Irelands Ancient East Tour
Irelands Ancient East Tour
Created by Tourism Ireland the Ancient East route offers visitors a personal experience of 5000 years of history from Carlingford lough to Cork.
Visit Newgrange and the Boyne Valley in the north east and range through the midlands all the way down via Kilkenny’s Medieval mile to Waterford’s Viking Quarter and continues to Cork, where the Ancient East Tour joins the Wild Atlantic Way.
We offer you 4 different tours that cover the 4 themes and may be enjoyed individually or consecutively over 4 days based out of Dublin. The tour below is a recommended itinerary we have created for you – We are happy to change and include attractions and sites that you may wish to see – We can also include pick up and drop of to all Irish airports.
Boyne valley 8 hour tour
A selection of sites that may be visited on the tour depending on time available – Newgrange – St Peters church Drogheda – Monasterboice – Mellifont Abbey – Hill of Slaine – Battle of the Boyne – Hill of Tara – Trim Castle – Loughcrew – Kells.
Midlands tour 10 hour tour
A selection of sites that may be visited on the tour depending on time available – National Stud – Emo Court – Kilbeggan distillery – Belvedere house – Hill of Uisneach – Corlea track way – Clonmacnoise – Tullamore Dew.
Wicklow tour 8 hour tour
A selection of sites that may be visited on the tour depending on time available – Lough Tay – Glendalough – Russborough house – Enniskerry – Powerscourt country estate – Wicklow Gaol – Avoca Woolen Mills – Avondale house – Kilmacurragh Gardens.
Kilkenny & Waterford 10 hour tour
Reginald’s tower – Waterford crystal – Waterford Museum of Treasures – Kilkenny castle – Kilkenny City road train – Rothe house – The Smithwick’s brewery – Kytlers Inn (Options) Dunbrody Famine ship – Ros Tapestry – JFK Homestead.
There are many treasures in the south and east that are older than the pyramids, set in an ancient green landscape – passage tombs, dolmens and Stone Age observatories that are found throughout Ireland’s Ancient East. Visitors can wonder at the meanings behind the largest concentrations of carved Stone Age artwork and Celtic gold artifacts in Western Europe as well as hear the stories that infuse this landscape of ancient warriors and Celtic druids.
Early Christian Ireland
Visitors to Ireland’s Ancient East will also be encouraged to step into the Golden Age of Saints and Scholars and visit the university and monastery sites where Ireland’s pioneering saints and monks wrote some of the world’s greatest illuminated manuscripts, before spreading their learning and spirituality throughout a Europe locked in the Dark Ages.
Visitors will also be encouraged to explore the pathways of Medieval Ireland and uncover a rich tapestry of tales from this turbulent time. From the Viking Triangle of Ireland’s oldest city, Waterford, lush river valleys lead to the beautifully preserved Medieval City of Kilkenny and beyond.
The fortresses and castles built to protect the land and its occupants are evident everywhere in the region. For example, Hugh de Lacy’s magnificent Norman Castle still dominates the landscape at Trim. In the beautifully preserved Medieval City of Kilkenny the spirit of centuries of craftspeople still lives and breathes – in the merchants’ houses, the Norman castle, the monks’ ale, the potters, jewelers, weavers, artists and artisans of every kind. It’s a magnificent setting where visitors can enjoy music, theatre and local festivals and events or follow in the footsteps of the feuding Butlers – on the Butler Trail through the Suir Valley.
Anglo-Ireland denotes a time of contrasts which shaped the lives of the now settled conquerors of Ireland and those they ruled over. Visitors will have a unique opportunity to experience what life was like in the 18th and 19th centuries. Lavish gardens, opulent houses and market towns are all there for them to explore including the great estates at Powerscourt, Mount Usher, Avondale, Castletown, Emo Court, Altamont and Lismore.
The romantic ideals of these times inspired others to failed Rebellions, or to seek better fortune and escape from famine through emigration. At Dunbrody Famine Ship, in Wexford, for example, they can discover what leaving was really like for them. At Vinegar Hill and Wicklow Gaol visitors can see what became of those who stayed and fought for change here.
Boyne valley Highlights:
Newgrange is a giant Neolithic passage grave complex, over 5,000 years old, 600 more than the pyramids. A UNESCO world heritage site and the number one destination here in the Boyne valley and a must see.
Monasterboice an early 6th Century Gaelic monastic settlement with Ireland’s tallest Celtic crosses and a round tower.
Mellifont abbey the ruins of the most important Cistercian monastery began in the 13th Century. (It helps to view them together so that you can get a feel for the transition of old Gaelic Ireland and the influences of Europe into Ireland during the 12th & 13th Century)
Trim castle the biggest Norman (Think – Braveheart / Excalibur / Game of Thrones) stronghold in Ireland. Knights in shining armour who conquered Ireland from England & France during the 12th & 13th Century.
Hill of Slaine the place where St Patrick lit his famous Paschal Fire, to announce the arrival of Christianity in Ireland in 430. Beautiful views from the top.
National stud For horse lovers, here you can meet Invincible spirit the most expensive Stallion in Ireland (purchased for 60,000,000€ and who charges 100,000€ per foal).
The lands were originally bought in 1906 by Colonel William Hall-Walker (Johnny Walker Whiskey fame) he is responsible for the Japanese Gardens created in 1906–1910 they represent the ‘Life of Man’ a journey of a soul from Oblivion to Eternity
Emo Court is a large neo-classical mansion, formal and symmetrical in its design, Designed by the architect James Gandon in 1790. It features magnificent gardens.
At the front of the house the Wellingtonia Avenue runs for 1 mile. The Four Seasons statues represent Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. Behind the house the arboretum covers approximately 20 acres.
Acquired by the Jesuits in the middle of the 20th century. The house and gardens were taken into ownership by the Irish state in the 1990s, and now managed by the Office of Public Works. The estate is open to visitors.
Glendalough is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the “Monastic City.”
Avoca Mill Built on the banks of the Avoca River from where it used to draw its power, you’ll find a large Avoca Store and Café and a working hand-weaving mill. The oldest surviving working mill in Ireland today, dating from 1723.
Avondale House & Forest Park includes the Charles Stewart Parnell Museum. Over 500 acres of mature woodland with trees from all over the world including the tallest collection of trees in Ireland.
Dwyer-McAllister Cottage, Glen of Imaal Scene of a famous shoot out during the 1798 Rebellion. It was here that the famed rebel Michael Dwyer fought off the surrounding British troops and made good his escape over the snow covered mountains.
Kilkenny & Waterford Highlights:
Reginald’s tower (1003 AD) originally dating from the Viking foundation of the city, oldest mortared building in Ireland, contains a Viking museum.
Waterford crystal Guided tour of Ireland’s oldest glassware manufacturer, founded in 1783, Waterford crystal chandeliers were installed in Westminster Abbey and the Kennedy Center. They also made the 2,688 crystals for the famous New Year’s Eve Ball that is dropped each year in New York City’s Times Square.
Kilkenny castle the most famous Norman castle in Ireland built 1207 belonging to the Butler family for over 700 years. The refurbished Stables, house the famous Kilkenny design centre.
The Smithwick’s brewery (Ireland’s oldest surviving brewery since 1705) Interactive guided tours and a pint at the end too.
Other important sites on the Ancient East Tour route:
Newgrange, in the Boyne Valley
Brownshill Dolmen, Carlow
St. Canice’s Cathedral
Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile
The Viking Quarter, Waterford
Hook Head Lighthouse
The Rock of Cashel
Russborough House, Wicklow
Dunbrody Famine Ship, Wexford
Mount Usher Gardens
(*) Entry to attractions not included in the Ancient East Tour price unless stated.
This tour includes:
Driver/guide (1 person)
Luxury vehicle / Complimentary Wi-Fi
Complimentary tour map with site details.
Advisable to bring:
Wet weather clothing
(Complimentary umbrellas available for use)