Exploring Ireland’s Ancient East from Dublin

Glendalough, County Wicklow

Coming to Dublin and want to see a little more than the urban lights? Well, just head for the outskirts and you’re at the gateway of Ireland’s Ancient East – a remarkable, story-filled area where you can wander through 5,000 years of history.

Great For
  • History
  • Sightseeing
  • Nature

Fact: memories are waiting to be made beyond Dublin’s city limits. We’re talking crisp coffee mornings on the patios of Palladian mansions, breaching the walls of ancient strongholds of Ireland’s high kings and exploring the astrological musings of a phenomenal colonel. Think hikes through purple hills, emotional farewells, getting lost in gardens and feeling, well... alive.

It all begins with a journey through Ireland’s Ancient East as you depart from Dublin’s doorstep, and it begins now.

Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow is clearly something special: National Geographic voted it number 3 in the world's Top 10 Gardens, and Lonely Planet included it in the Top 10 Houses of the World. Its immaculate gardens, sweeping terraces, ornamental lakes and secret hollows are some of life’s simple pleasures to explore. And don’t forget the waterfall, just three miles from the main house. Pack a picnic, then sit back to watch it cascade into the sparkling River Dargle. Powerscourt Estate is a 50-minute drive from Dublin.

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With big houses of the era came hard times. The tragedy of life in famine times is delicately glimpsed with a tour around Carrickmacross Workhouse in Monaghan (1 hour 15 mins from Dublin), while in Wicklow you can travel through the desperate and dastardly history of Wicklow Gaol by day or by night (1 hour 10 mins from Dublin).

Set against the Galtee Mountains and shrouded in legend, the Rock of Cashel is a medieval marvel. Topped by Cormac’s Chapel, this County Tipperary fortress is strewn with remnants of its Viking past, such as a sarcophagus with Nordic carvings. It was here that Saint Patrick converted the King of Munster to Christianity in the 5th century, where the saint accidently pierced the King’s foot with his crozier. The King didn’t object to the pain, believing it to be part of the ceremony! The Rock of Cashel is a 1 hour and 45 minute drive from Dublin.

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