Ireland's best-loved destinations
...and best-kept secrets

Wicklow and the East of Ireland

Ireland Travel Companion

Escaping the bustle of Dublin and heading south, you will encounter the scenic beauty of Wicklow, wild and enchanting. Stunning landscapes surround you as you explore the majestic glacial valleys and dramatic mountain passes. This rugged landscape of gorse and bracken is home to many of Ireland's most significant archaeological finds, from the stately homes of 18th-century gentry to the very earliest Christian dwellings.

Animal-lovers should head west to Kildare, the home of Irish horse racing and a landscape beautiful enough to rival Wicklow to the east.

Visitors to this captivating corner of Ireland should look out for Brú na Bóinne, Glendalough, Powerscourt Estate, Monasterboice and Castletownhouse, all detailed below.

Glendalough irish tourist attraction Stags in the Irish heather at Glendalough
View over Glendalough irish tourist attraction

Glendalough

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. 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.

Images courtesy of Glendalough Gallery (see full slideshow), taken by John Griffin Photography & Michael Delahunty.

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In the Area:

Brú na Bóinne

A thousand years older than Stonehenge, Brú na Bóinne is a huge Neolithic necropolis, built to house the bodies of the social elites who ruled this region of ancient Ireland. Covering a large area, Brú na Bóinne is perhaps best known for three main sites - Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth (Dowth is closed to tourists).

All visits to Brú na Bóinne start at the visitor centre, where a shuttle-bus service will collect you and take you to the most important sites. Be warned that tours of Newgrange and Knowth are limited to 750 places per day, while Brú na Bóinne as a whole attracts nearly three times this number during peak season. With no advance booking available, it pays to arrive early and be patient.

Bru Na Boinne, image courtesy of worldheritageireland.com

Look out For

  • The Great Stone Circle (Newgrange)
  • The Kerbstones
  • The Passage
  • The Inner Chamber

The Battle of The Boyne

Fought in 1690 between two rival claimants of the English, Scottish, and Irish thrones, catholic King James II and protestant King William III of Orange, the Battle of The Boyne would shore up the growing strength of protestantism in Ireland, precipitating James's swift departure for safety in France.

The battle itself was fought on a stretch of land between the counties of Meath and Louth which now belongs to the Oldbridge Estate Farm. On site, there is a visitor centre with a short show, original and replica weapons, and a battlefield model. There is also a tea pavilion to which the battle-weary can retreat for hot drinks and cakes.

For information about great driving routes in this area, look up www.boynevalleyroute.com - a really useful resource for those considering a self-drive tour of East Ireland.

Wicklow and the East

Plan your Wicklow Vacation

Places to Stay in East Ireland

Hotels in the East of Ireland

B&Bs and Guesthouses in East Ireland

My Ireland Travel Guide