Ireland's Ancient East covers the area outside of Dublin and east of the River Shannon, extending from Carlingford to Cavan and south to Cork City, including East County Cork and East County Limerick.
Take a short break in Ireland’s Ancient East and visit places filled with quirky and memorable experiences. With the maps as your guide and itineraries as your inspiration, discover a region of legends and stories, from ancient times to modern day – a place brimming with culture, attractions, festivals and fun. Your adventure through Ireland’s Ancient East awaits!
Carlow’s 19th century Robinsonian-style Altamont Gardens are 16-hectares of cultivated flora situated in Tullow. The space combines formal and informal gardens with over 5,000 budding plants and flowers. Native trees, as well as exotic tree species like Swamp Cypress and Giant Redwood, have roots in the gardens’ soils. Visitors can also enjoy a serene walk along the lake, or accompany the stream of the River Slaney under the canopy of the gardens’ ancient oaks.
The Blackstairs Mountains overlook the gardens, made up of three distinct sections - The Ice Age Glen, Bog Garden, and Arboretum. The Sunset Field is another region of the gardens where the Temple of the Four Wind stands. The temple has no grand history, merely a whimsical addition to the gardens by Corona.
Altamont Gardens were cared for by their private owner Corona North for fifty years. In the time that Corona tended for the gardens she travelled in search of plants to include in her herbaceous utopia. Upon her death in 1999 the gardens were left to the State at her request. Admission to the gardens is free of charge but guided tours are available for €3 per person
Hook Head Lighthouse
Hook Head is one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world. Purpose built 800 years ago, this thirteenth century lighthouse offers spectacular views over the Irish Sea. The harsh, windy, Wexford coast is where the lighthouse rests, and has been voted one of the top ten places to visit in Ireland.
Guided tours of the lighthouse are offered seven days a week and visitors are invited to take a step back in time as they listen to the medieval tales of life as a light keeper. Private and bespoke tours are also an option, with the chance to see the eastern landscape at sunrise, or sunset. Views from the four-story high balcony showcase the wild Irish Sea and stunning panoramic scenery of the Wexford coast. Hook Lighthouse also is the marker of the entrance to Waterford harbour, where the Barrow, Nore and Suir rivers meet.
The lighthouse has since been automated since it’s transition to an electric system in 1972. It is now regarded as ‘a jewel in the Ireland’s Ancient East crown’.
Glendalough is the Anglicised name given to Gleann dá Loch, meaning ‘Valley of the Two Lakes’. The Glendalough Valley is located in the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Boasting scenic lakes and valleys, as well as glorious mountain scenery, Glendalough is one of the most serene places in Ireland.
This important monastic settlement houses a cathedral and round tower and has a deeply tranquil, spiritual atmosphere. The monuments and lakes are accessible all year round and free to visit and explore. The idyllic setting is perfect for walks and hikes, with nine waymarked walking trails in the valley itself. Walks vary from a short half hour stroll to a long four hour hillwalk to suit walkers of all abilities. Each trail is signposted with colour-coded arrows. Staff at the Information Office can help you choose a suitable route.
A map of the Walking Trails is on sale at the National Park Information Office at the Upper Lake and from the Visitor Centre at the Monastic City. A copy of the trails is available online for free download on the Wicklow Mountains National Park website.