South East Ireland Visitors' Guide - Irish Travel | My Ireland Tour
Hook Head Lighthouse, County WexfordHook Head Lighthouse, County Wexford

South East IrelandTravel Guide

Ireland's sunny South East

Ireland's warmest and driest region is also one of its most popular vacation destinations. Visitors to Kilkenny and the South East enjoy the quaint and picturesque seaside towns and fishing villages which typify this corner of the Emerald Isle. As with Wicklow to the north, Ireland's ancient history is strongly felt here, and the ruins of castles, churches and abbeys are likely to feature on most local tour itineraries.

Use this page to find the South East most popular tourist destinations, as well as delving deeper into its hidden treasures.

Know where you're going? Skip to what interests you most

If you know what you're looking for, you can use these quick links to find the south-eastern attractions and destinations which appeal to you most.

Top Attractions in the South East

Discover the top attractions of Ireland's "Sunny South East".

1 Rock of Cashel

Top Attraction
History & Culture

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.

Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary
1
History

In both respects, the Rock of Cashel lives up to its title. The rock itself is vast and imposing, and one can only imagine the difficulties it would have posed for attackers throughout the ages who had designs on the stone fortress above. The masonry of the fort itself is no less spectacular and is remarkably well preserved almost a full millennium after its original construction.

The history of the site itself is long and varied. First used as a base for Welsh invaders, the Eóghanachta clan, who would become kings of this region of Ireland. The clan, and hence the rock, have been closely associated with St. Patrick (considered by many historians to be a Welshman), earning Cashel's pseudonym, St. Patrick's Rock.

Although, under Eóghanachta rule, Cashel would rival Tara as Ireland's centre of power, it was wrested from their control in the Tenth Century before being presented to the Church in 1101. The site would change hands many times again in the centuries to follow, giving rise to the various buildings whose remains now occupy it.

Insider Tips

The Rock of Cashel is just a five-minute walk from Cashel town.

2 House of Waterford Crystal

Top Attraction
Shopping & Souvenirs

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.

House of Waterford Crystal
2

The visitor centre is a modern building on The Mall, a tour of which teaches visitors how crystal is made. Undoubtedly the most popular part of the tour is the blowing room, where the crystal glasses, vases etc. are 'blown' into shape.

Insider Tips

The visitor centre has a nice little cafe and is fully wheelchair accessible.

3 Kilkenny City

Top Attraction
Shopping & Souvenirs

A picture-postcard Irish destination, Kilkenny has all the charm and all the history you could ask for. An ancient setting, with its castle and cathedral, it is home to many equally ancient pubs, where good craic and good live music are assured. Kilkenny also has lots of good restaurants to choose from. The city is a real hidden gem: although many first-time visitors don't put it at the top of their list, almost everyone who travels here is glad they made the journey.

Kilkenny Castle
3
Insider Tips

Head for Market Cross carpark. Turn left out of the main exit and walk straight down Parliament Street, then continue staight onto High Street. In three minutes, you will reach Kilkenny Tourist Office.

4 Tintern Abbey

Top Attraction
Religion & Spirituality

Like the Rock of Cashel, Tintern Abbey owes its heritage to Wales, founded as it was by the Earl of Pembroke in the Thirteenth Century for the benefit of its Welsh monk inhabitants. Today, there remains a Welsh counterpart with the same name.

Tintern Abbey, County Wexford
4

Much of the original building still stands, including the cloister walls and crossing tower, as well as the chancel and transept chapels. But visitors will enjoy the surroundings at least as much as the abbey itself, with lakes, streams, woods and ruins providing distractions for all age groups. Perhaps most alluring of all is the Colclough Walled Garden, built over 200 years ago and restored since 2010.

Insider Tips

Break up the beautiful walks around the walled gardens with a visit to the tea rooms for coffee and waffles.

5 Waterford City

Top Attraction
Shopping & Souvenirs

One of Europe's oldest cities with a rich Viking heritage, today's Waterford retains its charming old-world feel, with intersecting narrow streets and alleyways leading visitors on mini journeys of discovery as they explore. As well as the well-known House of Waterford Crystal, visitors should look out for the Waterford Treasures museums: the Medieval Museum, Reginald's Tower and Bishop's Palace.

People's Park, Waterford City
5

A must-see destination for all foodies visiting Ireland, Dungarvan is home to the regular farmers' market, the Waterford Festival of Food, and the Tannery Restaurant and Cooking School.

Insider Tips

Head for the long Waterford quay and find a nice spot for lunch with a view over the harbour.

6 The Glen of Aherlow

Great for Returners
Great Outdoors

The Glen of Aherlow is a valley found in the western part of County Tipperary, between the Slievenamuck and Galtee Mountains. The main village of the valley is Lisvarrinane. The Irish poet and Catholic priest Geoffrey Keating took refuge in the caves of the valley while on the run and writing his masterpiece 'Foundation of Knowledge on Ireland'.

The Glen of Aherlow, County Tipperary
6

Keen walkers and occasional strollers will be equally glad they looked up the eight looped walking trails which are marked here. Five of these start at the Christ the King Trail Head. The rest all begin at Lisvarinane Village Trail Head. Distances range from one mile to four miles.

Insider Tips

The car park at the popular 'Christ the King' statue can get quite busy during the summer, but it is from here that the best views of the glen and valley can be enjoyed.

7 The Swiss Cottage

Great for Returners
Bring your Camera

The Swiss Cottage is located near the town of Cahir in County Tipperary. It was built around 1810 and was a part of the estate of Lord and Lady Cahir. The Irish Georgian Society restored the cottage in 1985 and was opened to the public in 1989 as a historic house museum.

The Swiss Cottage, County Tipperary
7

Insider Tips

If you have a little more time, Cahir Castle is a pleasant 45-minutes walk away. There, you can book a guided tour or simply soak in the scenic sense of history.

8 Dunmore East

Great for Returners
Good for Families

Dunmore East is a fishing village in County Waterford. It is located in the area which saw a huge influx of Norman and Viking invaders and eventually settlers (circa 795-1170 B.C). Dunmore East has subsequently become home to a fishing port and a harbour, constructed by Royal Mail, for the purpose of transferring mail between England and Ireland.

Today, Dunmore East is a thriving village, buoyed mainly by tourism in the summer and fishing throughout the year.

Dunmore East, County Waterford
8

Insider Tips

Arrive with an empty stomach: Dunmore East is known for its fabulous food and drink. If you like seafood, you won't find much better or much fresher than this.

9 National 1798 Rebellion Centre

Great for Returners
History & Culture

The Eighteenth Century is perhaps one of the most formative times in the history of Western democracy. It is also one of the bloodiest. The American and French revolutions would have a significant effect on the Irish sense of identity, not to mention the revolutionary spirit which ran through it.

National 1798 Rebellion Centre, Country Wexford
9

The 1798 Rebellion Centre charts the history of the attempted revolution of that year, thwarted by British military superiority and the ruthless deployment of spies, informants and torture tactics. After a bruising campaign, the Irish rebels regrouped on Vinegar Hill in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, where they would make their final stand against the British. The result was a crushing defeat for the Irish, whose superior numbers could not make up for the firepower of the redcoats below. Armed mostly with pikes, the Irish dead would number high in the thousands.

Insider Tips

10 St Canice's Cathedral

Great for Returners
Religion & Spirituality

With its monumental round tower, St Canice's Cathedral rises majestically above the north of Kilkenny's city centre. Perhaps understandably so: ranking just behind St Patrick's in Dublin, it is Ireland's second-largest medieval cathedral. Gothic in style, it is characterized by its iconic round tower which affords commanding views of the surrounding area. The history of the building itself, long and varied, began - at least according to legend - in the Sixth Century with the establishment of a monastery there by St Canice, Kilkenny's patron saint.

St Canice's Cathedral, County Kilkenny
10

Insider Tips

The top of the tower is reachable only by a series of steep staircases. But the view that awaits is worth the effort and the price of admission combined.

11 Jerpoint Abbey

Great for Returners
Religion & Spirituality

Founded in the second half of the Twelfth Centrury and recently partially restored, Jerpoint Abbey is one of Ireland's finest Cistercian ruins. The main church, with its Romanesque flourishes, dates from these earliest days in the abbey's long history, but visitors will also find additions from the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. Look out for figures carved into the cloister pillars, some of them quite entertaining.

Jerpoint Abbey, Kilkenny
11

Insider Tips

Drivers should note that the free-to-use car park entrance/exit is on a blind bend. Take care when leaving!

12 Ardmore

Great for Returners
Religion & Spirituality

A secluded seaside village in Waterford, Ardmore attracts summer visitors to its long, sandy beach, as well as its cliff walks, shops and early Christian monuments. Visitors should add to their to-do list any and all of the following depending on your interests and group make-up: St Declan's Church, Ballyquin Beach and Ardmore Pottery which will leave you well placed to finish the day with a cliff-top stroll before dinner.

Ardmore Old Cathedral, County Waterford
12

Insider Tips

Ardmore's clifftop hotels offer unbeatable views to anyone looking to spend the night in this charming village retreat.

13 Dungarvan

Great for Returners
Bring your Camera

Dungarvan is a harbour town located at the heart of County Waterford. A must-see destination for all foodies visiting Ireland, it is home to the regular farmers' market, the Waterford Festival of Food, and the Tannery Restaurant & Cooking School

Dungarvan, County Waterford
13

Insider Tips

If you're feeling active, Dungarvan is the starting point for the popular Waterford Greenway cycle route. In addition to the great food, a day of rest here offers a wealth of good horticulture, art and retail therapy.

14 Lismore Castle & Gardens

Great for Returners
History & Culture

If you were looking for a single example of what people might expect a picture-postcard Irish castle to look like, Lismore Castle might be the one. Although the original castle dated back to 1185, what visitors see today was in fact built in the early 1800s, so its turrets and towers are in immaculate condition.

Lismore Castle, Waterford
14

What might impress visitors rather less is the lack of access, so take note before you make a special trip: you won't be able to go inside the castle itself, the interior spaces of which are closed to the public. You will, however, be able to explore the extensive and ornate gardens which, considered the oldest in Ireland, are arguably worth the trip in themselves, especially for the more green-fingered visitor.

Insider Tips

Photograhy enthusiasts should sure to make their way to the old watch tower at the far corner where great photo opps await.

15 Copper Coast Geopark

Great for Returners
Great Outdoors

This stunning region of south-east Ireland was declared a European Geopark in 2001 and a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2004. It earned its name following generations of metal-mining industry, the legacies of which now make the region such a tourist attraction. Today, it retains all of its geological diversity, with various marked walking trails offering unique access to this most charming face of Ireland.

Copper Coast Geopark, Waterford
15

Insider Tips

This iconic setting is unspoilt by retail, so bring everything you need including cash for a quick stop at Tom Hayes Pub.

Where to stay

Hotels

Bed & Breakfasts

  • Woodstock Arms County Kilkenny

    A comfortable and affordable family-run B&B and pub situated on the central square in the picturesque village of Inistioge, Kilkenny.

  • +353 (0)5 6775 8440
  • www.woodstockarms.ie
  • Find on Google Maps

Hostels

Food and Drink

Restaurants

Emiliano's Waterford

The Bay Tree Bistro Waterford

Everett's Restaurant Waterford

Clonganny House Wexford

La Côte Wexford

The Yard Wexford

Ballinacourty House Tipperary

Chez Hans Tipperary

Bistro 41 Tipperary

Irish Pubs

Phil Grimes Waterford

Timbertoes Waterford

The Gingerman Waterford

Maggie May's Wexford

Jim McGees Wexford

The Mocking Monck Wexford

O'Neill's Tipperary

The Arch Bar Tipperary

TJ Ryan Tipperary

Traditional Fish and Chips

The Marian Waterford

Ballybricken Take-Away Waterford

Johnnie Walkers Traditional Fish & Chips Waterford

Premier Wexford

Mangans Traditional Fish & Chips Wexford

Saltee Chipper Wexford

Aarons Takeaway Tipperary

The Lantern Takeaway Tipperary

The Village Grill Tipperary

Other Regions of Ireland

Find the attractions and destinations of the other regions of Ireland here.

Guinness Barrels
Dublin
  • Visit here for:
  • Guiness Storehouse
  • Christ Church Cathedral
  • Trinity College
East Ireland
East
  • Visit here for:
  • Glendalough Monastic Site
  • Castletown House
  • Brú na Bóinne
Cliffs of Moher
West
  • Visit here for:
  • Wild Atlantic Way
  • Cliffs of Moher
  • Clonmacnoise Monastic Site
St Colmans Cathedral
South West
  • Visit here for:
  • Cork City
  • Blarney Castle
  • Ring of Kerry
Giant's Causeway
Northern Ireland
  • Visit here for:
  • Belfast City
  • Titanic
  • Giant's Causeway
Irish Music
North West
  • Visit here for:
  • Belfast City
  • Titanic
  • Giant's Causeway