Wander through 5,000 years of History...

IRELAND’S ANCIENT EAST

When you explore Ireland’s Ancient East, you wander through 5,000 years of history. Peel back the layers of history and discover a story that unfolds in the vast green landscapes that seduced a millennia of settlers from Ancient Man to Early-Christians and Medieval Lords to Colonial Settlers. On your journey immerse yourself in the past as you are greeted by prehistoric wonders, monastic marvels, magnificent castles and grand estates at every turn.

“Encompassing 17 counties and 5,000 years of history, Ireland’s Ancient East features three unique areas”

Ireland’s Ancient East Map

Discover Neolithic tombs, prehistoric sites & mythical landscapes.

Land of 5,000 Dawns

Watch the sunrise over a landscape as old as time and discover the Land of 5,000 Dawns. Made up of counties Cavan, Longford, Louth, Meath, Monaghan and Westmeath, history and myth collide here, in a place where almost every village, monument and great house comes with its own legend of warring giants or eccentric aristocrats. Go exploring and you’ll find marvels of Palladian architecture, fossils from a dinosaur age, and a castle owned by descendants of infamous Attila the Hun.

Cavan Burren Park is a mythical, spiritual landscape of monuments, megalithic tombs, hut sites and pre-bog walls all of which survive from pre-historic times and are located within metres of each other. The Park offers stunning views of Cuilcagh Mountain, West Cavan and the greater Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. A new visitor centre interpreting the archaeological, geological and cultural history of Cavan Burren Park opened in May 2014. Enjoy the five walking trails including one multi-access trail as well as picnic facilities, coach parking, toilet facilities and interpretation of archaeological and geological attractions.

Nestled on 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, dotted with ancient woodlands and glittering lakes, Castle Leslie Estate is one of the last great Irish estates still in the hands of its founding family. The Leslie Family arrived in Ireland in the 16th Century and bought the Estate at that time. Today, this castle hotel in Ireland is led and managed by Sammy Leslie and governed by a Family Trust. The family considers itself to be guardians of the land and its overwhelming desire is to protect the Estate for future generations.

The Hill of Slane to the north of Slane Village is 158 metres (518 ft) above the surroundings. There are a number of historic sites located around the top of the hill. In the Metrical Dindshenchas, a collection of bardic verse, the ancient Fir Bolg king Sláine mac Dela was said to have been buried here, in the place that had been called Druim Fuar that came to be known in his memory Dumha Sláine. The hill may have been chosen as the site of Christian abbey due to the presence of an existing pagan shrine, the remains of which may be two standing stones in the burial yard. Muirchu moccu Machtheni, in his highly mythologized seventh century Life of Patrick, says that St. Patrick lit a Paschal fire on this hill top in 433 CE in defiance of the High King Laoire who forbid any other fires while a festival fire was burning on the Hill of Tara.

The Kilbeggan Distillery is the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland. Dating back to 1757 a visit today lets you discover real artisan Irish whiskey distilling at its finest. A stroll across the courtyard takes you to the present day, where whiskey is being produced in the traditional way – ancient traditions have been passed on from generation to generation, and the team are happy to talk you through what they are doing. See for yourself the traditional method of mashing in oak mash tuns, fermenting in Oregon pine vats and the new Kilbeggan malt spirit flowing from ancient pot stills – one of which is over 186 years old!

Newgrange is a Stone Age (Neolithic) monument in the Boyne Valley, County Meath, it is the jewel in the crown of Ireland’s Ancient East. Newgrange was constructed about 5,200 years ago (3,200 B.C.) which makes it older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza. Newgrange is a large circular mound 85 meters (93 yards) in diameter and 13.5 meters (15 yards) high with a 19 meter (21 yard) stone passageway and chambers inside. The mound is ringed by 97 large kerbstones, some of which are engraved with symbols called megalithic art.

Explore medieval castles, distilleries and Mesolithic hunting grounds.

The Historic Heartlands

Moving through swampland-turned-sacred settlement where a saint lived and died. Marvelling at monumental bridal dowries far beyond the realm of modern times. Exploring the extravagance of a rich man and a magnificent castle sold for a mere £50. You’ve reached the Historic Heartlands, and counties Offaly, Laois, Kildare, Tipperary, Limerick, Carlow and Kilkenny. A place where epic alliances were forged in love and expedience were born, carved into the land and the traditions honored ever since. Uncover supernatural tales of hellhounds and hidden treasure. See ancient dolmens, wander through medieval castles perched on hilltops and discover just how advanced prehistoric hunters really were.

Birr Castle Gardens, located in County Offaly, is famed for the beauty of its unusual landscapes. Visitors to Birr Castle can explore an impressive plant collection with rare species from around the world, including over forty champion trees of the British Isles. The gardens of Birr Castle come alive in spring with flowering bulbs and a vast magnolia collection. The demesne includes formal gardens with old roses, wisteria and the world’s tallest box hedges, some of which are over 300 years old. Outdoor terraces offer stunning views of the castle and are vibrant with colour in the summer.

An imposing 13th-15th Century structure, Cahir Castle was skilfully designed by Conor O’Brien to be a state-of-the-art defensive castle. Appearing to grow from the actual rock on which it stands, the castle has been the scene of sieges and bombardments for centuries. The powerful Anglo-Norman family, the Butlers, came into the possession of the castle in 1375. The castle was captured three times in its history: it fell to Devereux, Earl of Essex, in 1599 after it had been battered for three days with artillery; it surrendered without a fight to Inchiquin in 1647; and again to Cromwell in 1650.

Clonmacnoise is an ancient monastic site near Shannonbridge, County Offaly, and a top visitor attraction in Ireland. A walk amongst the peaceful stone ruins of this famous place will conjure images of the saints and scholars of Ireland’s renowned Golden Age of learning. Founded by St Ciaran in the mid-6th century, it became a great centre of religion and learning, visited by scholars from all over the world. Many historical manuscripts, including the 11th century Annals of Tighernach and the 12th century Book of the Dun Cow, were written here.

The magnificent Kilkenny Castle overlooks the River Nore and has guarded this important river crossing for more than 900 years. The gardens, with extensive woodland paths, rose garden and ornamental lake, create the setting for a beautiful stroll. Two wings of the castle have been restored to their 19th Century splendour and include a library, drawing room and the noted Long Gallery. A suite of former servants rooms now houses the Butler Art Gallery, which mounts frequently changing exhibitions of contemporary art.

The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most visited sites, and is a spectacular and archaeological site. A collection of medieval ecclesiastical buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale. The 12th-century round tower is of the oldest surviving building on the Rock, also include a high cross, and the ruins Romanesque chapel – Cormac’s Chapel is one of the earliest,and finest churches built in the Romanesque style. The 13th-century Gothic cathedral is a large cruciform Gothic church without aisles built between 1230 and 1270. Also a 15th-century castle and the Hall of the Vicars is the entry point to the ecclesiastical enclosure. The Hall houses the museum where the original Cross of St. Patrick can be found.

Journey through serene monasteries, Viking cities and Titanic towns.

Celtic Coast

Few coasts have seen such comings and goings as this one. These cliffs, harbors and beaches have been besieged by Vikings, visited by Titans of the sea, and welcomed world leaders home. Track inland and you’ll find fascinating histories, too, in the shape of isolated monasteries, riverside castles and some of the most beautiful gardens in the world.

The historic Blarney Castle near Cork City is perhaps most famous for the Blarney Stone but it’s also a great destination for the whole family. According to legend, the stone has the power to give anyone who kisses it the ‘gift of the gab’ (or the ability to be a smooth talker), so for those who dare, a climb to the battlements to reach the famous stone could be well worth it. For a more relaxing experience, take a stroll through the Blarney Castle Gardens and Rock Close—an attractive destination in their own right. There are a range of themed gardens built into the estate, like Fern Garden, located deep in the woods and designed to feel like a tropical jungle. Poison Garden, beside the battlements, is home to a fascinating collection of deadly and dangerous plants from around the world, like the caged specimens of deadly nightshade, wolfsbane and poison ivy.

The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience features an authentic reproduction of an 1840s emigrant vessel, alongside a popular interpretation of the Irish famine emigrant experience. Located at New Ross, County Wexford, the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience is an essential stop on any tour of the south east region of Ireland. Follow the footsteps of the those who left during the Great Famine with an interactive tour that takes you through the fateful journey made by so many Irish people. Alongside the tour of the ship, the Dunbrody Visitor Centre houses a riverside café and the Irish America Hall of Fame. The hall of fame commemorates the critical contribution made by Irish men and women to U.S history, as well as acknowledging the continuing contribution of contemporary Irish Americans. Each year the hall of fame inducts new members, most recently Donald Keough, Michael Flatley and Maureen O’Hara.

Glendalough Visitor Centre is dedicated to showcasing the Glendalough monastic site, one of Ireland’s most famous tourist attractions. Positioned in a glaciated valley with two lakes, the Glendalough monastic site is a fascinating early Christian settlement in a spectacular natural location, founded by Saint Kevin in the 6th century. The extensive ruins of Glendalough include several early churches, and an impressive 30-metre high round tower. The valley stretches for approximately 3km and contains several areas of great historical interest and beauty. The Upper Lake area was the original site of the monastic settlement and features Reefert Church, Temple-na-Skellig, Saint Kevin’s Cell, Saint Kevin’s Bed, the Caher and various high crosses.

The Kennedy Homestead, birthplace of President John F Kennedy’s great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy, celebrates the story of five generations of this famous Irish dynasty. The Kennedy Homestead, in Dunganstown county Wexford, allows visitors to follow the fortunes of the most famous Irish American family through the 20th century to the present day. Trace the history of those who stayed behind and those who left Dunganstown on an immigrant ship to the slums of Boston and from the English court of St James to the Camelot days at the White House.

Powerscourt is one of Europe’s great treasures and Ireland’s most famous estates. Gracing the Wicklow Mountains, 20 kilometres from Dublin city centre, Powerscourt is a heritage property with a surprising difference and a great family attraction. Powerscourt offers visitors a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statues and ornamental lakes with secret hollows, rambling walks and beautiful walled gardens. The winding pathways feel like a secret garden at times, revealing new treasures such as fountains from Paris, gates from Venice and statues from Rome. There are hundreds of different types of plants, flowers and trees in the gardens.

Ireland's Ancient East

Sample Tour Package

Get off the beaten track to see, hear and feel the imprints of the ancient settlers that once called this land home. Ancient Man, early Christians, Medieval Lords, Colonial Settlers and their descendants have all been enchanted by these lush, green and fertile lands. We have put together a sample tour package that lets you discover what Ireland’s Ancient East has to offer…

Welcome to Ireland's Ancient East...

*Watch the below video & be inspired to visit & discover what Ireland’s Ancient East has to offer*

``It’s time to wander through 5,000 years of history”.

Whatever your query, we are looking forward to hearing from you!

*Email info@bracktours.com with any enquiries and a member of our travel team will be in touch*

Wander through 5,000 years of History...

IRELAND’S ANCIENT EAST

When you explore Ireland’s Ancient East, you wander through 5,000 years of history. Peel back the layers of history and discover a story that unfolds in the vast green landscapes that seduced a millennia of settlers from Ancient Man to Early-Christians and Medieval Lords to Colonial Settlers. On your journey immerse yourself in the past as you are greeted by prehistoric wonders, monastic marvels, magnificent castles and grand estates at every turn.

Encompassing 17 counties and 5,000 years of history, Ireland’s Ancient East features three unique areas

Discover Neolithic tombs, prehistoric sites & mythical landscapes in the Land of 5,000 Dawns

Watch the sunrise over a landscape as old as time and discover the Land of 5,000 Dawns. Made up of counties Cavan, Longford, Louth, Meath, Monaghan and Westmeath, history and myth collide here, in a place where almost every village, monument and great house comes with its own legend of warring giants or eccentric aristocrats. Go exploring and you’ll find marvels of Palladian architecture, fossils from a dinosaur age, and a castle owned by descendants of infamous Attila the Hun.

Cavan Burren Park is a mythical, spiritual landscape of monuments, megalithic tombs, hut sites and pre-bog walls all of which survive from pre-historic times and are located within metres of each other. The Park offers stunning views of Cuilcagh Mountain, West Cavan and the greater Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. A new visitor centre interpreting the archaeological, geological and cultural history of Cavan Burren Park opened in May 2014. Enjoy the five walking trails including one multi-access trail as well as picnic facilities, coach parking, toilet facilities and interpretation of archaeological and geological attractions.

Nestled on 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, dotted with ancient woodlands and glittering lakes, Castle Leslie Estate is one of the last great Irish estates still in the hands of its founding family. The Leslie Family arrived in Ireland in the 16th Century and bought the Estate at that time. Today, this castle hotel in Ireland is led and managed by Sammy Leslie and governed by a Family Trust. The family considers itself to be guardians of the land and its overwhelming desire is to protect the Estate for future generations.

The Hill of Slane to the north of Slane Village is 158 metres (518 ft) above the surroundings. There are a number of historic sites located around the top of the hill. In the Metrical Dindshenchas, a collection of bardic verse, the ancient Fir Bolg king Sláine mac Dela was said to have been buried here, in the place that had been called Druim Fuar that came to be known in his memory Dumha Sláine. The hill may have been chosen as the site of Christian abbey due to the presence of an existing pagan shrine, the remains of which may be two standing stones in the burial yard. Muirchu moccu Machtheni, in his highly mythologized seventh century Life of Patrick, says that St. Patrick lit a Paschal fire on this hill top in 433 CE in defiance of the High King Laoire who forbid any other fires while a festival fire was burning on the Hill of Tara.

The Kilbeggan Distillery is the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland. Dating back to 1757 a visit today lets you discover real artisan Irish whiskey distilling at its finest. A stroll across the courtyard takes you to the present day, where whiskey is being produced in the traditional way – ancient traditions have been passed on from generation to generation, and the team are happy to talk you through what they are doing. See for yourself the traditional method of mashing in oak mash tuns, fermenting in Oregon pine vats and the new Kilbeggan malt spirit flowing from ancient pot stills – one of which is over 186 years old!

Newgrange is a Stone Age (Neolithic) monument in the Boyne Valley, County Meath, it is the jewel in the crown of Ireland’s Ancient East. Newgrange was constructed about 5,200 years ago (3,200 B.C.) which makes it older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza. Newgrange is a large circular mound 85 meters (93 yards) in diameter and 13.5 meters (15 yards) high with a 19 meter (21 yard) stone passageway and chambers inside. The mound is ringed by 97 large kerbstones, some of which are engraved with symbols called megalithic art.

Explore medieval castles, distilleries and Mesolithic hunting grounds in The Historic Heartlands

Moving through swampland-turned-sacred settlement where a saint lived and died. Marvelling at monumental bridal dowries far beyond the realm of modern times. Exploring the extravagance of a rich man and a magnificent castle sold for a mere £50. You’ve reached the Historic Heartlands, and counties Offaly, Laois, Kildare, Tipperary, Limerick, Carlow and Kilkenny. A place where epic alliances were forged in love and expedience were born, carved into the land and the traditions honored ever since. Uncover supernatural tales of hellhounds and hidden treasure. See ancient dolmens, wander through medieval castles perched on hilltops and discover just how advanced prehistoric hunters really were.

Birr Castle Gardens, located in County Offaly, is famed for the beauty of its unusual landscapes. Visitors to Birr Castle can explore an impressive plant collection with rare species from around the world, including over forty champion trees of the British Isles. The gardens of Birr Castle come alive in spring with flowering bulbs and a vast magnolia collection. The demesne includes formal gardens with old roses, wisteria and the world’s tallest box hedges, some of which are over 300 years old. Outdoor terraces offer stunning views of the castle and are vibrant with colour in the summer.

An imposing 13th-15th Century structure, Cahir Castle was skilfully designed by Conor O’Brien to be a state-of-the-art defensive castle. Appearing to grow from the actual rock on which it stands, the castle has been the scene of sieges and bombardments for centuries. The powerful Anglo-Norman family, the Butlers, came into the possession of the castle in 1375. The castle was captured three times in its history: it fell to Devereux, Earl of Essex, in 1599 after it had been battered for three days with artillery; it surrendered without a fight to Inchiquin in 1647; and again to Cromwell in 1650.

Clonmacnoise is an ancient monastic site near Shannonbridge, County Offaly, and a top visitor attraction in Ireland. A walk amongst the peaceful stone ruins of this famous place will conjure images of the saints and scholars of Ireland’s renowned Golden Age of learning. Founded by St Ciaran in the mid-6th century, it became a great centre of religion and learning, visited by scholars from all over the world. Many historical manuscripts, including the 11th century Annals of Tighernach and the 12th century Book of the Dun Cow, were written here.

The magnificent Kilkenny Castle overlooks the River Nore and has guarded this important river crossing for more than 900 years. The gardens, with extensive woodland paths, rose garden and ornamental lake, create the setting for a beautiful stroll. Two wings of the castle have been restored to their 19th Century splendour and include a library, drawing room and the noted Long Gallery. A suite of former servants rooms now houses the Butler Art Gallery, which mounts frequently changing exhibitions of contemporary art.

The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most visited sites, and is a spectacular and archaeological site. A collection of medieval ecclesiastical buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale. The 12th-century round tower is of the oldest surviving building on the Rock, also include a high cross, and the ruins Romanesque chapel – Cormac’s Chapel is one of the earliest,and finest churches built in the Romanesque style. The 13th-century Gothic cathedral is a large cruciform Gothic church without aisles built between 1230 and 1270. Also a 15th-century castle and the Hall of the Vicars is the entry point to the ecclesiastical enclosure. The Hall houses the museum where the original Cross of St. Patrick can be found.

Journey through serene monasteries, Viking cities and Titanic towns via the Celtic Coast

Few coasts have seen such comings and goings as this one. These cliffs, harbors and beaches have been besieged by Vikings, visited by Titans of the sea, and welcomed world leaders home. Track inland and you’ll find fascinating histories, too, in the shape of isolated monasteries, riverside castles and some of the most beautiful gardens in the world.

The historic Blarney Castle near Cork City is perhaps most famous for the Blarney Stone but it’s also a great destination for the whole family. According to legend, the stone has the power to give anyone who kisses it the ‘gift of the gab’ (or the ability to be a smooth talker), so for those who dare, a climb to the battlements to reach the famous stone could be well worth it. For a more relaxing experience, take a stroll through the Blarney Castle Gardens and Rock Close—an attractive destination in their own right. There are a range of themed gardens built into the estate, like Fern Garden, located deep in the woods and designed to feel like a tropical jungle. Poison Garden, beside the battlements, is home to a fascinating collection of deadly and dangerous plants from around the world, like the caged specimens of deadly nightshade, wolfsbane and poison ivy.

The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience features an authentic reproduction of an 1840s emigrant vessel, alongside a popular interpretation of the Irish famine emigrant experience. Located at New Ross, County Wexford, the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience is an essential stop on any tour of the south east region of Ireland. Follow the footsteps of the those who left during the Great Famine with an interactive tour that takes you through the fateful journey made by so many Irish people. Alongside the tour of the ship, the Dunbrody Visitor Centre houses a riverside café and the Irish America Hall of Fame. The hall of fame commemorates the critical contribution made by Irish men and women to U.S history, as well as acknowledging the continuing contribution of contemporary Irish Americans. Each year the hall of fame inducts new members, most recently Donald Keough, Michael Flatley and Maureen O’Hara.

Glendalough Visitor Centre is dedicated to showcasing the Glendalough monastic site, one of Ireland’s most famous tourist attractions. Positioned in a glaciated valley with two lakes, the Glendalough monastic site is a fascinating early Christian settlement in a spectacular natural location, founded by Saint Kevin in the 6th century. The extensive ruins of Glendalough include several early churches, and an impressive 30-metre high round tower. The valley stretches for approximately 3km and contains several areas of great historical interest and beauty. The Upper Lake area was the original site of the monastic settlement and features Reefert Church, Temple-na-Skellig, Saint Kevin’s Cell, Saint Kevin’s Bed, the Caher and various high crosses.

The Kennedy Homestead, birthplace of President John F Kennedy’s great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy, celebrates the story of five generations of this famous Irish dynasty. The Kennedy Homestead, in Dunganstown county Wexford, allows visitors to follow the fortunes of the most famous Irish American family through the 20th century to the present day. Trace the history of those who stayed behind and those who left Dunganstown on an immigrant ship to the slums of Boston and from the English court of St James to the Camelot days at the White House.

Powerscourt is one of Europe’s great treasures and Ireland’s most famous estates. Gracing the Wicklow Mountains, 20 kilometres from Dublin city centre, Powerscourt is a heritage property with a surprising difference and a great family attraction. Powerscourt offers visitors a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statues and ornamental lakes with secret hollows, rambling walks and beautiful walled gardens. The winding pathways feel like a secret garden at times, revealing new treasures such as fountains from Paris, gates from Venice and statues from Rome. There are hundreds of different types of plants, flowers and trees in the gardens.

Sample Tour Package

Get off the beaten track to see, hear and feel the imprints of the ancient settlers that once called this land home. Ancient Man, early Christians, Medieval Lords, Colonial Settlers and their descendants have all been enchanted by these lush, green and fertile lands. We have put together a sample tour package that lets you discover what Ireland’s Ancient East has to offer…

Welcome to Ireland's Ancient East...

*Watch the below video & be inspired to visit & discover what Ireland’s Ancient East has to offer*

``It’s time to wander through 5,000 years of history”.

Whatever your query, we are looking forward to hearing from you!

*Email info@bracktours.com with any enquiries and a member of our travel team will be in touch*