The top ten sights of Irelands Ancient East

By Larry
Friday, 3rd February 2017
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newgrange passage tomb tours

Irelands ancient east

Following on from the success of the Failte Irelands Wild Atlantic Way is Irelands Ancient East. This area of Ireland features much of Irelands vast range of architecture in the form of Passage Tombs, Castles, Cathedrals and 'Downton Abbey' style mansions. Below are just some of the places to visit. For more information check out

Highlights of Irelands Ancient East

Athlone town

This ancient crossroads of Ireland sits astride the River Shannon the longest river in Ireland and Britain. Athlone is home to the atmospheric jewel of Seans bar where in ancient times Luan collected a toll to ford the River. This lends its name to the town. Ath Luan - Place of Luan. It is the oldest bar in Ireland according to the Guinness book of records. Beside the bar is the stout Athlone castle inside which a multimedia exhibit vividly recreates the most explosive siege in Irelands bloody history. The very loud siege of Athlone took place right at that spot.

Clonmacnoise monastic city

This ancient Christian citadel oozes history with its many churches, round tower and high crosses . It was a town, a monastery, university and art college. It has an excellent interpretive centre. Its location alongside the sweeping River Shannon was ideal, until the Vikings arrived!

Glendalough Monastic settlement

This wonderfully scenic monastic village of the fabled St.Kevins sits nestled in a valley surrounded by natures beauty. Those pesky Vikings attacked it numerous times but it managed to survive and prosper. There are plenty of tales associated with St. Kevin including the one that he allegedly threw a woman into the lake for trying to seduce him! 

Kilkenny Medieval City

This lovely medieval town boasts an impressive Norman castle, round tower (which you can climb up), St Canices cathedral, a Tudor inn and a medieval house. Kilkenny was at one stage the medieval administrative capital of Ireland.

Newgrange Passage tomb

An absolute must while in Ireland. This is one of the many passage tombs that appear in Irelands 'valley of the kings'. Go early in the day to avoid the queues. Nearby is the Battle of the Boyne site. Read our blog article for more information on Newgrange

Rock of Cashel

This magnficent home to generatons of High Kings and Christian hieracrchy sits gloriously atop a rocky hill with expansive views of the scenic countryside. It features a cathedral, Romanesque chapel, round tower and of course a castle. A massacre took place here of innocent townspeople who sought refuge there by the troops of the Earl of Inchiquin in 1641. Excellent guided tours available on site.

Cobh, Cork.

Formerly Queenstown, Cobh was the major point of emigration for generations of Irish fleeing famine, war and poverty. The town is crowned by St.Colmans cathedral and overlooks the worlds second largest harbour. The Cobh heritage centre brilliantly displays Irelands diaspora story and brings to life the treachorous boat crossings in the ‘coffin ships” across the Atlantic. Cobh was the last port of call of the Titanic and the wooden tender pier that brought the 127 Irish passengers out to the Titanic still remains.


Uisneach is the mythological and sacred nucleus of Ireland. Little remains of the burial site of the earth goddess Eriu and the sun god Lugh. In ancient times Ireland was divided into 100 kingdoms and it was here that the High kings were crowned. Later it was Tara that held this ceremony. A guide is needed for both locations to bring to life its stories and magic. Little remains of the buildings in Tara but unassumimg mounds that hint at a legendary past.

Powerscourt house, waterfall and gardens

This magnificent palladian mansion overlooking the pretty Sugarloaf mountain and close to Irelands tallest waterfall is well worth a visit. Said to be home to Irelands finest gardens it is also home also to the fabulous but the not so ancient gift and craft shop.

Waterford City

Irelands oldest city resides alongside the river Nore. Famous traditionally for its crytstal and opera. Home to Reginalds tower thought to be the first building in Ireland to use mortar in its construction (an inticing blend of cows blood, lime, fur and muck)  Check out the nearby medieval museum! Opposite the museum is the Waterford glass visitor centre which shows splendidly the crystal making process.

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