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Ireland's Ancient East

Ireland's Ancient East hightlights the history and heritage of the area and brings the Boyne Valley and Wicklow to greater international attention. Visitors get a personal experience of 5,000 years of history through a relaxing journey of discovery in the beautiful landscape that attracted warring settlers for millennia and illuminated by stories from the best storytellers in the world - the local people.

Stretching from Newgrange and the Boyne Valley in the north east and ranging through the midlands all the way down via Kilkenny's Medieval mile to Waterford's Viking Quarter the Ireland's Ancient East matches and complements the Wild Atlantic Way.

Ancient Ireland

There are many treasures in Ireland's Ancient East that are older than the pyramids, set in an ancient green landscape - passage tombs, dolmens and Stone Age observatories that are found throughout Ireland's Ancient East. Visitors can wonder at the meanings behind the largest concentrations of carved Stone Age artwork and Celtic gold artefacts in Western Europe as well as hear from the locals themselves the stories that infuse this landscape of ancient warriors and Celtic druids.

For example, the low hills that you cross from the valley of the Liffey to that of the Boyne mark the crossing to a far more ancient time. Here there are a collection of pre-historic ceremonial sites that connect the lives and deaths of Stone Age Man who lived here to the seasons of the land in which they lived. Moving south visitors can stop off at Brownstown Dolmen, in the fertile farmland between the Slaney and Barrow rivers and marvel at its 100 ton capstone and, from here, the Slaney Valley takes you to the Irish National Heritage Park where everyday life in the Stone Age is beautifully recreated.

Early Christian Ireland

Visitors to Ireland's Ancient East are encouraged to step into the Golden Age of Saints and Scholars and visit the university and monastery sites where Ireland's pioneering saints and monks wrote some of the world's greatest illuminated manuscripts, before spreading their learning and spirituality throughout a Europe locked in the Dark Ages.

Visitors can stand on the Hill of Slane where St Patrick built his bonfire, or travel west from the Boyne valley along the path of the Ancient Dividing Road, the Esker Riada, to find the site of Saint Ciaran's great monastery at Clonmacnoise. It was from here that the monks brought Christianity back to many parts of Europe where the Barbarians had all but wiped it out.

The sites and relics of the centuries that followed, when Christianity spread throughout Ireland, are to be found throughout Ireland's Ancient East and visitors can climb a round tower, kneel in a monk's cell, marvel at the carved high crosses or just absorb the peace and serenity of these sacred sites on a walking tour of the paths the pilgrims once took. They can compare the austerity of life at Glendalough and Clonmacnoise with the relative comfort of later abbeys at Jerpoint, Tintern or Cashel or see how the spirit of these times lives on at the many heritage festivals, food festivals and events which animate the local towns and villages throughout the year.

Medieval Ireland

Visitors can explore the pathways of Medieval Ireland and uncover a rich tapestry of tales from this turbulent time. From the Viking Triangle of Ireland's oldest city, Waterford, lush river valleys lead to the beautifully preserved Medieval City of Kilkenny and beyond.

The fortresses and castles built to protect the land and its occupants are evident everywhere in the region. For example, Hugh de Lacy's magnificent Norman Castle still dominates the landscape at Trim. In the beautifully preserved Medieval City of Kilkenny the spirit of centuries of craftspeople still lives and breathes - in the merchants' houses, the Norman castle, the monks' ale, the potters, jewellers, weavers, artists and artisans of every kind. It's a magnificent setting where visitors can enjoy music, theatre and local festivals and events or follow in the footsteps of the feuding Butlers - on the Butler Trail through the Suir Valley.


In Anglo-Ireland visitors can discover the stories of a time of contrasts which shaped the lives of the now settled conquerors of Ireland and those they ruled over. Visitors will have a unique opportunity to experience what life was like in the 18th and 19th centuries. Lavish gardens, opulent houses and market towns are all there for them to explore including the great estates at Powerscourt, Mount Usher, Avondale, Castletown, Emo Court, Altamont and Lismore.

The romantic ideals of these times inspired others to failed Rebellions, or to seek better fortune and escape from famine through emigration. At Dunbrody Famine Ship, in Wexford, for example, they can discover what leaving was really like for them. At Vinegar Hill and Wicklow Gaol visitors can see what became of those who stayed and fought for change here.

Boyne Valley Tours

Hill of TaraPrivate Driver Day Tour of the Boyne Valley, an area rich in heritage and history. Places to visit include Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange & Knowth), Hill of Slane, Hill of Tara, Monasterboice, Old Mellifont Abbey, Bective Abbey, Trim Castle, Loughcrew, Fourknocks, Kells, St Ciarán's Holy Well and much more.

Since your tour is private and personalised, you will be picked up from your accommodation or cruise ship in the Dublin / Meath / Louth area. Private transport in a Skoda Superb Sedan for up to four passengers or Mercedes MPV for up to seven passengers.

Book a Private Day Tour

The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) - Ireland's Ancient East

The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) over Newgrange
The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) over Newgrange in the Boyne Valley on December 20th 2015.

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