The Spire of Lloyd This inland lighthouse comes with plenty of stories around its construction. Built in the 18th century by the Earl of Bective, some say it was made so his family could watch countryside pursuits, others to provide employment for the local area. The National Stud The Irish National Stud is the home of champions, and has been breeding race winners for over a century. It’s a delight to wander the stables, breathing in the soft smell of the horses and watching as the grooms take care of these living legends. Dunmore Caves Delve beneath the earth and discover a subterranean wonder. Not content with their stunning natural beauty, the Dunmore Caves come with an amazing history that includes Viking invaders, trapped clansmen and even a massacre... Spike Island Off the coast of Cobh in County Cork, over the last 1,400 years Spike Island has served as a monastery, a fort and even a prison. Known to many as "Ireland's hell", the star-shaped Fort Mitchell once held over 2,300 prisoners captive. The Shackleton Museum In the sleepy town of Athy, you’ll find an homage to one of Ireland’s great explorers, Ernest Shackleton. Born here in 1874, he went on to explore the far reaches of Antarctica as a famous polar explorer – no fewer than four times! The Saltee Islands A boat trip to the Saltee Islands is a must – not just a haven for beautiful wildlife, it has a fascinating story. It harboured leaders of the 1798 Rebellion, before it was bought in 1943 by aviator Michael Neale, who then crowned himself prince of the island! Brú na Bóinne This UNESCO World Heritage Site is perhaps best known for Newgrange and its solstice light show, – but the ground around is rich with historic mystery too, from the Great Mound of Knowth, a neolithic burial site to the “Fairy Mound of Darkness” at Dowth. Lafcadio Hearn Gardens Koizumi Yakumo, born Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, led a tempestuous life: a writer born in Greece, he was abandoned in Dublin and sent to America before finding his way to Japan, and happiness. Today he’s honoured in these beautiful and peaceful gardens in Tramore. Birr Castle The Earls of Rosse have an intriguing estate: the gardens are home to rare floral specimens. You'll find “the leviathan” here, a telescope that, upon construction in the 1840s, was the largest in the world! Today, the Rosses’ love of learning remains in the onsite Science Centre.