Tours of Ireland featuring Ireland's Ancient East. To see our full range of Ireland tours, click here.
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Ireland's Ancient East is a touring region featuring some of the Emerald Isle's best-loved attractions. Running from Co. Monaghan in the north to Co. Cork in the south, it was created by Fáilte Ireland to showcase the top tourist destinations from its broad sweep of 17 eastern counties.
There are 17 counties in total in Ireland's Ancient East. These are Cavan, Longford, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Westmeath, Offaly, Laois, Kildare, Tipperary, Limerick, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford and Cork.
Ireland's Ancient East was launched in April 2015.
Ireland's Ancient East was developed by and is maintained by Fáilte Ireland (National Tourism Development Authority).
As Ireland's Ancient East is more of a region than a trail, it is hard to say how long it would take to travel throughout it. Driving non-stop from Monaghan, its most northerly point, to Cork, its most southerly, would take around 4 hours.
Unlike the Wild Atlantic Way, there is no start and end point on Ireland's Ancient East. It spans from County Monaghan (in the north) to County Cork (in the south) and from County Wicklow (in the east) to County Offaly (in the midlands).
As Ireland's Ancient East is more of a region than a route it would take quite an effort to walk it entirely. To walk from its most northern point in County Monaghan to its most southern point in County Cork would take an estimated 64 hours, without breaks.
There is a plentiful supply of Bed & Breakfast, Hotels and Hostels to be found throughout Ireland's Ancient East. Especially in the more popular areas of Cork, Waterford, Kildare and Kilkenny. Throughout the region you will never be too far away from an area where you can easily pick up supplies. It is a good idea to map out a list of your potential accommodation and book ahead, especially in the summer months.
Each point of interest along Ireland's Ancient East has a distinctive sign in place, giving information about the site itself as well as other sites nearby.
This home to the original Irish whiskey is fascinating for non-drinkers too.More info
The equine capital of a nation that's all about horses and horse racing.More info
Ireland's Ancient East offers a beautifully varied selection of backdrops. From monastic settlements to coastal havens, it's hard work not to find a stunning setting for your next masterpiece. Even the cities such as Cork and Waterford offer an old world charm that can create timeless photos. Packing a camera for your tour of Ireland's Ancient East is essential. Here are just a few examples:
Perched on the banks of the River Shannon, Clonmacnoise is perhaps the foremost of Ireland's monastic cities. For those interested in early Christianity, it is a must-see destination. Enclosed within the ancient city walls are various ecclesiastical ruins including a cathedral, seven ancient churches, three high crosses, round towers and the largest collection of Early Christian grave slabs in Western Europe - all remarkably well preserved and fascinating to anyone, not just those with a special interest in Ireland's religious history.
An ancient monastic settlement, Glendalough (meaning: Valley of the Two Lakes) presents today's visitors with a chance to walk not only through the idyllic hills of Ireland's East, but also through the rough-hewn landscapes of ancient Irish history. The steep wooded slopes of Glendalough harbour one of Ireland’s most atmospheric monastic settlements. Sacked time and again by the Vikings, it nevertheless flourished for over 600 years. Founded in the Fifth Century by St. Kevin, the settlement would grow to be very powerful at its zenith some four hundred years later. By the start of the Fifteenth Century, this stronghold was in decline but the stone monuments and buildings remain as evocative and powerful today as they surely must have been then.
Situated close to the River Boyne. The Hill of Tara is an archaeological site located between the towns of Navan and Dunshaughlin in County Meath. According to legend, it was the seat of the High King of Ireland. The Hill of Tara was in use as far back as the Neolithic era, from then until the 12th century it was used as a sacred and political centre.
The Old Midleton Distillery is home to Ireland's other globally-recognizable tipple, Jameson's Whiskey. While Jameson's is enjoyed by millions worldwide, you don't need to be a whiskey-drinker to enjoy this fascinating visitor experience. There is much to discover here for everyone.
The location of the castle has been historically significant since Strongbow constructed the first building a wooden tower in 1195 to control a fording-point of the River Nore and the junction of several routeways. William the Earl Marshall built the first stone castle on the site in 1260.
Just over a mile south of Kildare town, The Irish National stud is perhaps the biggest tourist attraction in this part of Ireland. In her historic 2011 visit to Ireland, Queen Elizabeth II fed her passion for all things equestrian by visiting the stud which is home to some of the world's finest horses. Owned by the Irish government, the stud breeds competition-quality stallions for breeding programs the world over.
Located just outside the town of Newry in the royal County of Meath, Newgrange is a 5,200 year old passage tomb. An archaeological wonder, its chamber and passage perfectly align with the Winter Solstice.
Ireland has more than its fair share of outstanding archaeological sites, but the Rock of Cashel is arguably the most impressive. The 'rock' from which it takes its name is in fact a limestone hill, covered in luscious green, rising from the plain which characterises the surrounding area. The word 'cashel', by contrast, is derived from the Irish gaelic word caiseal, meaning stone fortress. It was the seat of kings and mediaeval bishops for 900 years and flourished until the early 17th century. Brian Ború was crowned King of Munster here in 977 and he became High King of Ireland in 1002.
Pubs (public houses) play a huge part in the culture of Ireland, and have done throughout the ages. Sometimes busy, often noisy, but always friendly and welcoming places to meet the locals. In a pub, you will see a full cross section of Irish society - its a place where people from all classes, ages, interests and backgrounds can mix.
Located in County Meath, Trim Castle is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. Hugh de Lacy and his son Walter built it over a 30 year period, finished in 1206.
Visiting Tullamore D.E.W whiskey distillery, you can learn about the art of Irish whiskey-making and discover the secret that gives Tullamore D.E.W. its unique complexity with a tour of Triple whiskey tasting.
Waterford crystal is known the world over for its quality and, throughout a history which dates back to its establishment in the South-East of Ireland in 1783, it has been a landmark of its own in this part of Ireland. Today, Waterford Crystal is no less recognisable than its sister-brands, Wedgewood and Royal Doulton.
The Wild Atlantic Way is a long-distance touring route, the first of its kind in Ireland. It runs the length of Ireland's western coast, facing the Atlantic Ocean, from County Donegal in the northwest to County Cork in the southwest. The initial aim of the Wild Atlantic Way was to give greater visibility to Ireland's west coast in overseas markets. The Wild Atlantic Way is 2,500 km (1,553 miles) long and passes through 3 provinces of Ireland (Ulster, Connacht and Munster). It has given a huge boost to the tourism industry of the region since its launch in February 2014.×