Trip idea: flavours of Ireland's Ancient East

Boyne Valley, County Meath

Get the inside scoop on food and drink from the fertile Boyne Valley down to Ireland’s sunny south east

Immerse yourself in Ireland’s traditions of food and hospitality. Start your journey in the historic surrounds of the Boyne Valley. Then follow your appetite for adventure on a trail that takes you to historic distilleries in the midlands and the dynamic food scenes of Kilkenny, Tipperary and Cork. Finish up by exploring the coastal communities and agricultural heritage of Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow. Ready for a taste sensation?

Flavours of Ireland's Ancient East

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The Boyne Valley

The Boyne Valley’s 5,000-year-old Brú na Boinne was a legendary centre of hospitality in Celtic mythology, and the locals haven’t lost their touch.

A driving 16 mins
Listoke Distillery and Gin School

Drogheda’s bounty, brews and botanicals

One of Ireland’s oldest towns and a 19th-century centre of brewing, Drogheda has become a dynamic hub for Ireland’s contemporary craft brewing, cider-making and distilling scene. The Boyne Brewhouse and its sister Boann Distillery are building an ambitious visitor centre and tap room. For now, you can sample their brews at the stylish Eastern Seaboard Restaurant – or perhaps enjoy an aperitif featuring locally-produced Dan Kelly's Cider – while grazing on the best eats of the area, such as brown crab from blue flag shores. North of the town, visitors to Listoke Distillery and Gin School can take home their very own botanical-infused creation.

If you have more time:

Head westwards to neighbouring County Cavan or County Monaghan for their great farmers' markets and food festivals.

B
Sheridan’s Cheesemongers

Slane’s eco-treats and castle tipples

From Madonna to the Rolling Stones, who hasn’t played a concert in the idyllic grounds of Slane Castle? Ever the fun-loving innovators, the heirs to this stunning property have teamed up with the family behind Jack Daniels to create the impressive Slane Distillery: take a tour to sample their Triple-Casked Slane Irish Whiskey before dining on organic estate Dexter beef at Browne’s Bar or the Gandon Room Restaurant. You can glamp onsite at the bucolic Rock Farm Slane, which also offer self-guided electric bike tours to award-winning cheese-makers, farmers and farmhouse cider producers within the Slane Food Circle.

If you have more time:

Pride of place is top of the bill at the Vanilla Pod Restaurant in Kells, a short hop from the headquarters of Sheridan’s Cheesemongers and its Saturday food market.

Midlands magic

A creative new food scene is winding through the medieval streets and lush landscapes of the midlands.

C driving 1 hr 20 mins
Tullamore D.E.W.

The future of distilling is at Tullamore D.E.W.

Head over to Tullamore D.E.W. Distillery in County Offaly. Named after stable-boy-turned-distillery-owner, Daniel E Williams, the distillery first opened in Tullamore town in 1829, but you wouldn’t know it as you step inside – not a musty barrel in sight, this is futuristic distilling at its finest. Take a tour of the original 19th century warehouse and learn about each stage of the whiskey making craft, where you will have the chance to create your own unique blend before the day is over! And if you want to learn more about Ireland’s whiskey, Kilbeggan Distillery – the oldest licenced distillery of its kind on the island – is just a 15-minute drive away.

D driving 16 mins
Smithwick’s Experience

A city to savour

Kilkenny has many talents, including being a fabulous food destination. Local treasures like the Michelin-starred Campagne and Cake Face Patisserie (a cosy bakery with a state-of-the-art lab) are reason enough for the coveted title, even before you add gastropubs such as Paris Texas and the harvest-time Savour Kilkenny food festival. The Smithwick’s Experience and Sullivan’s Taproom offer insight into the city’s brewing past and present.

Quench your thirst at Highbank Orchards, Ireland’s smallest distillery, where you can sample a range of ciders, spirits, juices and liqueurs that have made this organic orchard a local treasure.

E
Mount Juliet Estate

Culinary creativity at Thomastown

Thomastown's thriving creative community of artists, writers and musicians have long made this an attractive town to visit – but these days, its foodie credentials are just as strong. Home to the Thomastown School of Food, which offers short courses and a regular schoolyard market, it has a smorgasbord of deliciousness on its doorstep. Enjoy the picturesque Goatsbridge Trout Farm visitor centre, Michelin-starred Lady Helen Restaurant at Mount Juliet Estate and Knockdrinna Farmhouse in Stoneyford, where one of Ireland’s most celebrated cheesemakers offers cheesemaking courses and runs a pretty café in her farm shop.

Tipperary and Cork

Follow the journey of Ireland's local produce all the way from farm to food vendor by meeting the makers in Cork and Tipperary.

F driving 1 hr 12 mins
Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers

Taste the landscape at Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers

The green pastures of Ireland’s Ancient East have led to something delicious in County Tipperary – Cashel Blue cheese. Visit Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers and you can meet the makers, get an insight into how cheese develops and, of course, enjoy sampling the range of farmhouse cheeses.

IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME:

Add a sweet moment to your day with a visit to the Galtee Honey Farm where you can chat to the beekeepers, taste the local honeys and even don a bee suit if you’re feeling brave!

G
The English Market

Meet the vendors at The English Market

Serving the city since 1788, the English Market in Cork city is filled with traditional tastes and exotic foods served with a local twist. Vendors sell creamy chocolates and cheeses, fresh fish, and bread straight out of the oven. There are incredible, sights, smells and flavours at every turn – so walk the stalls, chat to the traders and sample all of the food that you possibly can!

IF YOU HAVE MORE TIME:

When in Cork, you simply must add a visit to the Jameson Experience in Midleton to your itinerary. Just a half hour drive from Cork city, a tour will take you through whiskey production from field to glass.

The south east coast

Seafood traditions served with a contemporary twist, the secret is out on the incredible food scene in Waterford and Wexford.

H driving 40 mins
And Chips

Fun is the flavour at Dungarvan

Dubbed ‘Fungarvan’ by regulars at its annual West Waterford Festival of Food, Dungarvan is unmissable. Think crisp and fluffy chipper chips with the freshest hake battered to perfection at And Chips. Or glistening oysters harvested by Harty Oysters and served at The Tannery wine bar and restaurant. The Tannery Cookery School (with adjacent guesthouse), meanwhile, makes a stylish setting for learning insider skills from owner Paul Flynn, one of Ireland’s finest chefs.

If you have more time:

That glorious view from The Cliff House Hotel terrace and dining room in Ardmore makes an unforgettable backdrop for Martijn Kajuiter’s modern Irish cuisine.

I driving 1 hr 5 mins
Grow HQ

Forging forwards at Waterford city

One of Ireland's oldest cities, this sea port has centuries of stories to tell. It's signature bread roll – the blaa – was brought here by French Huguenots fleeing persecution, while Waterford crystal glassware has travelled to dining tables the world over. Today, the city’s stories are still unfolding. At Everett’s, you can adventure in modern Irish dining in the 15th-century wine cellars of the city’s most famous mayor, while Grow HQ is an inspiring spot to learn how to grow, cook and eat great food. At their bright café, sample Walsh’s bakehouse blaa or a Seagull Bakery sourdough sandwich bursting with fresh garden produce and washed down with Metalman craft beer.

J driving 48 mins
Colclough Walled Gardens

Escape to the Hook Peninsula in Wexford

For a tiny rural village at the mouth of the Three Sisters estuary, Arthurstown offers a wealth of delicious offerings. Overseen by chef-proprietor Kevin Dundon, Dunbrody House Hotel alone combines fine-dining at the Harvest Room Restaurant with an onsite cookery school, Champagne seafood lounge and craft brew pub boasting a Sunday market and jazz brunch. At Tintern Abbey, discover one of Ireland’s oldest pear trees in the 200-year old Colclough Walled Gardens (featured in Gallivanting Tours’ Ireland’s Ancient Feasts tour, along with Ballyhack Smokehouse) or explore Hook Head Lighthouse before feasting on toasted crab sandwiches or scones from their café’s in-house bakery.

 

K
Kilmore Quay

Sea-fresh food in Wexford town

Besides being famous for its annual opera festival, Wexford town is a short drive from Kilmore Quay, where some of the best seafood in the country is landed – and its best-loved restaurants reflect this. At La Côte, Michelin-trained chef Paul Hynes brings new twists to classic fish dishes, while at Greenacres bistro and wine merchant you can sit amongst its well-stocked wine shelves and tuck into Wexford Mussels cooked in local Yellow Belly Beer. Just outside town, the excellent Kelly’s Café is a superb choice for breakfast, lunch or simply something sweet.

 

Wexford and Wicklow

Step into a sweet-tasting paradise with a tour of the fruit farm, winery and chocolate haven of Wexford and Wicklow.

L driving 40 mins
Wheelock's Fruit Farm

History and heritage in Enniscorthy

Enniscorthy town is rich in history and filled with intriguing local food producers. Stroll uphill to The Wilds Café to sample some of the best, or head out to Wheelocks Café – a family-friendly fruit farm and – to pick your own punnet of sweet strawberries during the summer months. Better still, book a Gallivanting Gourmet Flour, Feathers & Fruit tour to meet the folks behind Wheelocks, Regans Organic Farm, and the 185-year-old Ballyminane Watermill, where flour is still stone-ground 3rd third-generation miller, John Murphy.

If you have more time:

See Taste Wexford’s calendar of bookable events, including hands-on chocolate workshops at Bean and Goose.

M driving 1 hr 5 mins
The Chocolate Garden of Ireland

Paradise at the Chocolate Garden of Ireland

The Chocolate Garden of Ireland… sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? And the name doesn’t lie – nestled in rural bliss on the Carlow-Wicklow border, a visit here is paradise for anyone with a sweet tooth. Offering workshops where you can learn about all things chocolate and ice cream, you can see a chocolate making demonstration and even get to make your own chocolate to take home. This is everything you want in a chocolate experience and more! And, of course, tasting is all part of the pleasure at this award-winning artisan chocolate maker, so enjoy!

N
Wicklow Way Wines

Wander Ireland’s first fruit winery

A winery in Ireland? Yes, you’ve heard right! Take a personalised tour of Wicklow Way Wines and sample artisan wines made from local raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and elderberries. Once you taste them, you’ll want to bring a bottle home with you!

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