Castles loom over golden vales, Viking cities give up exquisite vestments and the Titanic's last port of call remembers its past. In Ireland's Ancient East, history is never far away. In the southern area, through counties Tipperary, Waterford, Cork and Limerick, you can travel through valleys and over mountains. You'll hear the tales of desperate emigrants who left the seaside town of Cobh for new worlds, you'll wander through medieval castles perched on hilltops and chase down 12th century dog collars in Waterford. This is Ireland’s Ancient East… and it’s time to wander through 5,000 years of history. The Rock of Cashel Sitting on a 300ft rock said to have been discarded by the devil no less, the Rock of Cashel doesn’t just loom over Tipperary’s Golden Vale – it looms over Ireland’s history, too. Viewed from afar, the Rock of Cashel is a captivating sight, a freak and solitary lump of limestone, reflecting the light in diverse ways throughout the day. Rough guides Rock of Cashel A 12th century round tower, 13th century Gothic cathedral, a 15th century castle, a high cross, and, at the centre of all this splendour, something delicate and very precious... 800-year-old frescoes on the walls of Cormac's Chapel, depicting golden-haired saints clad in reds and sapphire blues, with their heads devoutly bowed in prayer. In this place, you’ll come face to face with tales of high kings and patron saints (St Patrick is said to have baptised King Aengus by accidentally skewering the royal foot with a crozier), miraculous crosses and brutal military massacres. A sacred space, a medieval masterpiece and an enduring icon: this is no ordinary ‘rock’. Watch for Designed by the architect of Dublin's Old Parliament House, Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, Bishop's Palace, now the Cashel Palace Hotel, is a handsome 18th century pile in Cashel town. Afternoon tea here is a treat of freshly cut sandwiches and decadent pastries. Explore more nearby Holycross Abbey, County TipperaryThis remarkable 12th century abbey once held a particle of the True Cross (or “holy rood”) and was one of the most visited pilgrim sites in Ireland, with the devout travelling from all over Europe to view it. Today, the beautiful cloisters, “whispering arch”, and exquisite carvings still draw plenty of visitors. Cahir Castle, County TipperaryIt must have been a force to be reckoned with, Cahir. Designed for defense, this huge hulk of a castle sits imposingly on the River Suir, and seems to grow out of the very rock it sits on. Dating from the 13th century, it’s been the site of sieges, bombardments and even a murder. Curraghmore House, County WaterfordHome to the Eighth Marquis of Waterford, this house is special. Set within 1,000 hectares of formal gardens, the architecture here is astounding with beautiful neo-classical rooms that are graced with master plasterwork of James Wyatt. A delight. Cobh The pretty port town of Cobh is inextricably bound to the sea. Walk through its steep streets and you’ll be walking in the footsteps of those who sailed from here as emigrants or prisoners. The town echoes with names such as Titanic and Lusitania – legends of maritime history that left an indelible impression here. …a charming hill town on a glistening estuary, speckled with brightly coloured houses and overlooked by a splendid cathedral. LONELY PLANET ON COBH Annie Moore Stand beside Annie Moore’s waterfront statue, it’s impossible not to be affected by this 17-year-old Irish girl’s experience. The first person to be processed at the Ellis Island immigration centre, Moore, and her two younger brothers, arrived in New York after 12 days in the shocking conditions of steerage. Her story and more are told in the Cobh Heritage Centre. It was off this coast that RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915, and Cobh will forever be remembered as the last port of call for the Titanic before she departed on her fateful Atlantic voyage. You can find out more about the liner’s story at the Titanic Experience Cobh, situated in the original White Star Line Offices. Watch for Cobh Boat Tours around the harbour are a great way to see the village from a different perspective, and to appreciate the views the emigrants saw as they left home for ever. Explore more nearby Blarney Castle, CorkChieftains, banquets, poison gardens and a stone that will give you the gift of eloquence – Blarney is a fascinating castle that dates back nearly 600 years. Walk the beautiful gardens, kiss the “Stone of Eloquence”, and explore the ancient and mysterious druidic settlement of “Rock Close”. Youghal walled town Youghal is something quite special – one of the best-preserved walled towns in Europe, its’s also a popular coastal resort for obvious reasons! Explore its unique heritage (the Vikings, Normans and English have all left their mark here) and seaside fun, and don't miss the fantastic seafood. Ardmore monastic siteIf you were around in the 5th century, chances are all the talk would have been about St Declan, the saint credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. St Declan founded his monastery at Ardmore, and today you can visit the remains of an impressive cathedral and round tower. Waterford city Just how did Waterford’s Cloth of Gold vestments survive? How exactly did these exquisite garments of Italian silk and Belgian embroidery, regarded as one of the greatest treasures of medieval Europe, endure the ferocious religious wars of the 17th-century? Simple: they were buried under Waterford city. Unearthed 123 years later, they hang today in Waterford’s Medieval Museums. This is an excellent example of a modern museum. The highlight in my opinion is the mayor's wine vault at the lowest level. MAGPIE15 TRIPADVISOR, WATERFORD TREASURES MEDIEVAL MUSEUM Reginald's Tower Founded by the Norsemen in the late 9th century, Waterford is one of Ireland's oldest cities and you can delve into its intriguing history in Waterford Treasures, a trio of museums in the city's Viking Triangle. Start with the Vikings in the stone fortress of Reginald’s Tower, before moving on to the Medieval Museum and finish up in the elegant Bishop’s Palace. Peppered with curiosities, these museums boast unique displays including the oldest piece of Waterford glass in the world, a relic of the Holy cross, and a rare, 12th century woven dog collar. No, really… Watch for The annual Spraoi Festival has become something of an August Bank Holiday institution. For three days, the city devotes itself to a variety of street art and spectacle. Make a date to be there... Explore more of Ireland’s Ancient East THE NORTH: Ancient TreasuresStone Age lightshows, thrilling tales of mythical heroes and flamboyant aristocrats in grand castles. THE MIDLANDS: Gracious LivingUncover the histories of great men written in the stones and an ancient monastic city from a simpler age. THE EAST: Saints and SorrowsDiscover the legacy of a lonely saint, a generous gift to a grateful city and the tear-stained decks of a famine ship.