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 layers of history to discover a story that unfolds in the vast green landscapes that seduced millennia of settlers. Settlers who dated from Ancient Man to Early-Christians followed by Medieval Lords and Colonial Settlers. 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. Discover the Land of 5,000 Dawns,  consisting of counties Cavan, Longford, Louth, Meath, Monaghan and Westmeath. History and myth collide here. A place where almost every village, monument and great house undoubtedly comes with its own legend of warring giants or eccentric aristocrats. Go exploring and you’ll find marvels of Palladian architecture, or possibly fossils from a dinosaur age, and completed with a castle owned by descendants of infamous Attila the Hun.

Cavan Burren Park is a mythical, spiritual landscape. Compiled of monuments, in addition to 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 as well as, 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. Not to forget picnic facilities, coach parking, toilet facilities and finally, interpretation of archaeological and geological attractions.

Nestled on 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, as well as dotted ancient woodlands and glittering lakes. Castle Leslie Estate is one of the last great Irish estates still, remarkably, 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 overwhelmingly desire to protect the Estate for future generations.

The Hill of Slane, north of Slane Village, is 158 metres (518 ft) above the surroundings. There are a number of corresponding historic sites located around the top of the hill. In a piece of early Irish Literature, namely Metrical Dindshenchas, King Sláine mac Dela burial was here. This would be the artificial mould, or “motte” which lies on the Hill.

The hill may have been a Christian abbey site due to, conversely, an existing pagan shrine being present. The remains of which may be two standing stones in the burial yard. Much of Patrick’s work was annotated in the highly mythologized seventh century, Life of Patrick. Apparently, St. Patrick lit a Paschal fire on this hill top in 433 CE. Done so, in defiance of the High King Laoire. King Laoire forbid any other fires, therein, while a festival fire was burning on the Hill of Tara. After many failed attempts to overcome Patrick, Laoire took counsel and consequently was converted to Christianity.

The Kilbeggan Distillery, the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland, dates back specifically to 1757. Located in Co. Westmeath, moreover, on the River Rousna.

A visit today permits discovery of real artisan Irish whiskey distilling at its finest. A stroll across the courtyard, however, takes you to the present day. Here, whiskey is being produced in the traditional way – ancient traditions have been passed on from generation to generation. The team are happy to talk you through what they are doing. Experience the traditional method of mashing in oak mash tuns, or alternatively, fermenting in Oregon pine vats. Finally, producing the 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 certainly the jewel in the crown of Ireland’s Ancient East. Constructed about 5,200 years ago (3,200 B.C.), consequently, making it older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza. Newgrange is a large circular mound 85 meters in diameter and 13.5 meters high. It includes a 19-meter stone passageway and chambers inside.

The chambers are relevant to the winter solstice, significantly, where the sun rises to illuminate the chambers within.

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 have, of course, reached the Historic Heartlands. Consisting of counties Offaly, Laois, Kildare, Tipperary, Limerick, Carlow and Kilkenny.

A place where epic alliances were ultimately born. Forged in love and expedience, 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 to finally discover how advanced prehistoric hunters really were.

Birr Castle Gardens, located in County Offaly, is markedly famous for the beauty of its unusual landscapes. Visitors to Birr Castle can explore an impressive plant collection with rare species. Species derivative from around the world, including over forty champion trees of the British Isles. The gardens of Birr Castle come alive in spring, owing to the 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 undoubtedly imposing 13th-15th Century structure. Conor O’Brien skilfully designed Cahir Castle, as such, 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, firstly, to Devereux, Earl of Essex, in 1599 after it had been battered for three days with artillery. Secondly, it surrendered without a fight to Inchiquin in 1647. And, finally to Oliver Cromwell in 1650.

Clonmacnoise, an ancient monastic site near Shannonbridge, County Offaly, and also, a top visitor attraction in Ireland. A walk amongst the peaceful stone ruins conjures striking images of saints and scholars. Who ultimately hold prominence due to 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. And hence, visited by scholars from all over the world. Many historical manuscripts, including the 11th century Annals of Tighernach and not forgetting, the 12th century Book of the Dun Cow, were written here.

The magnificent Kilkenny Castle overlooks the River Nore. Hence, it has guarded this important river crossing for more than 900 years. The gardens, intensified with the extensive woodland paths, in addition to the rose garden and ornamental lake, ultimately create the setting for a beautiful stroll. Two wings of the castle have been restored to their 19th Century splendour. As such, 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, indeed one Ireland’s most visited sites, and 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, including a high cross, and the ruins Romanesque chapel. Cormac’s Chapel is one of the earliest, and certainly finest churches built in the Romanesque style. The 13th-century Gothic cathedral is a large cruciform Gothic church without aisles, and built between 1230 and 1270. Not forgetting, a 15th-century castle and the Hall of the Vicars is the entry point to the ecclesiastical enclosure. The Hall also houses the museum where, relevantly, 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 to uncover fascinating histories. In the shape of isolated monasteries or riverside castles and finally, some of the world’s most beautiful gardens.

The historic Blarney Castle near Cork City is perhaps most famous for the Blarney Stone. It is, however, a great destination for families. 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). Therefore, for those who dare, climb to the battlements to reach the famous stone. Eventually, it could be well worth it. Take a stroll through the Blarney Castle Gardens and Rock Close for a more relaxing experience. Both, an attractive destination in their own right.

There are a range of themed gardens built into the estate, similar to Fern Garden. Located deep in the woods and, hence, 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, namely, the caged specimens of deadly nightshade, wolfsbane and poison ivy.

The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience features an authentic reproduction of an 1840s emigrant vessel. As well as a popular interpretation of the Irish famine emigrant experience. Located at New Ross, Co. Wexford, the Experience is an essential stop on any tour of the Ancient East. Follow the footsteps of the those who left during the Great Famine. An interactive tour taking you through the fateful journey made by so many Irish people.

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, namely Donald Keough, Michael Flatley and Maureen O’Hara.

Glendalough Visitor Centre is dedicated to showcasing the Glendalough monastic site, and surely, 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. Founded by Saint Kevin in the 6th century in a spectacular natural location. 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 of course, 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 is birthplace of President John F Kennedy’s great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy. It celebrates the story of five generations of this Irish dynasty. The Kennedy Homestead, in Dunganstown Co. Wexford, allows visitors to follow the fortunes of the family through the 20th century to the present day. Trace the history of those who stayed behind. Or alternatively, those who left Dunganstown on an immigrant ship to the slums of Boston. Finally, from the English court of St James to the Camelot days at the White House.

Powerscourt, undoubtedly one of Europe’s great treasures and Ireland’s most famous estates. Gracing the Wicklow Mountains and located 20 kilometres from Dublin city centre. Powerscourt is a heritage property with a surprising difference and a great family attraction. Offering visitors, a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statues and ornamental lakes while unearthing 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 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 layers of history to discover a story that unfolds in the vast green landscapes that seduced millennia of settlers. Settlers who dated from Ancient Man to Early-Christians followed by Medieval Lords and Colonial Settlers. 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. Discover the Land of 5,000 Dawns,  consisting of counties Cavan, Longford, Louth, Meath, Monaghan and Westmeath. History and myth collide here. A place where almost every village, monument and great house undoubtedly comes with its own legend of warring giants or eccentric aristocrats. Go exploring and you’ll find marvels of Palladian architecture, or possibly fossils from a dinosaur age, and completed with a castle owned by descendants of infamous Attila the Hun.

Cavan Burren Park is a mythical, spiritual landscape. Compiled of monuments, in addition to 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 as well as, 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. Not to forget picnic facilities, coach parking, toilet facilities and finally, interpretation of archaeological and geological attractions.

Nestled on 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, as well as dotted ancient woodlands and glittering lakes. Castle Leslie Estate is one of the last great Irish estates still, remarkably, 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 overwhelmingly desire to protect the Estate for future generations.

The Hill of Slane, north of Slane Village, is 158 metres (518 ft) above the surroundings. There are a number of corresponding historic sites located around the top of the hill. In a piece of early Irish Literature, namely Metrical Dindshenchas, King Sláine mac Dela burial was here. This would be the artificial mould, or “motte” which lies on the Hill.

The hill may have been a Christian abbey site due to, conversely, an existing pagan shrine being present. The remains of which may be two standing stones in the burial yard. Much of Patrick’s work was annotated in the highly mythologized seventh century, Life of Patrick. Apparently, St. Patrick lit a Paschal fire on this hill top in 433 CE. Done so, in defiance of the High King Laoire. King Laoire forbid any other fires, therein, while a festival fire was burning on the Hill of Tara. After many failed attempts to overcome Patrick, Laoire took counsel and consequently was converted to Christianity.

The Kilbeggan Distillery, the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland, dates back specifically to 1757. Located in Co. Westmeath, moreover, on the River Rousna.

A visit today permits discovery of real artisan Irish whiskey distilling at its finest. A stroll across the courtyard, however, takes you to the present day. Here, whiskey is being produced in the traditional way – ancient traditions have been passed on from generation to generation. The team are happy to talk you through what they are doing. Experience the traditional method of mashing in oak mash tuns, or alternatively, fermenting in Oregon pine vats. Finally, producing the 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 certainly the jewel in the crown of Ireland’s Ancient East. Constructed about 5,200 years ago (3,200 B.C.), consequently, making it older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza. Newgrange is a large circular mound 85 meters in diameter and 13.5 meters high. It includes a 19-meter stone passageway and chambers inside.

The chambers are relevant to the winter solstice, significantly, where the sun rises to illuminate the chambers within.

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 have, of course, reached the Historic Heartlands. Consisting of counties Offaly, Laois, Kildare, Tipperary, Limerick, Carlow and Kilkenny.

A place where epic alliances were ultimately born. Forged in love and expedience, 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 to finally discover how advanced prehistoric hunters really were.

Birr Castle Gardens, located in County Offaly, is markedly famous for the beauty of its unusual landscapes. Visitors to Birr Castle can explore an impressive plant collection with rare species. Species derivative from around the world, including over forty champion trees of the British Isles. The gardens of Birr Castle come alive in spring, owing to the 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 undoubtedly imposing 13th-15th Century structure. Conor O’Brien skilfully designed Cahir Castle, as such, 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, firstly, to Devereux, Earl of Essex, in 1599 after it had been battered for three days with artillery. Secondly, it surrendered without a fight to Inchiquin in 1647. And, finally to Oliver Cromwell in 1650.

Clonmacnoise, an ancient monastic site near Shannonbridge, County Offaly, and also, a top visitor attraction in Ireland. A walk amongst the peaceful stone ruins conjures striking images of saints and scholars. Who ultimately hold prominence due to 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. And hence, visited by scholars from all over the world. Many historical manuscripts, including the 11th century Annals of Tighernach and not forgetting, the 12th century Book of the Dun Cow, were written here.

The magnificent Kilkenny Castle overlooks the River Nore. Hence, it has guarded this important river crossing for more than 900 years. The gardens, intensified with the extensive woodland paths, in addition to the rose garden and ornamental lake, ultimately create the setting for a beautiful stroll. Two wings of the castle have been restored to their 19th Century splendour. As such, 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, indeed one Ireland’s most visited sites, and 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, including a high cross, and the ruins Romanesque chapel. Cormac’s Chapel is one of the earliest, and certainly finest churches built in the Romanesque style. The 13th-century Gothic cathedral is a large cruciform Gothic church without aisles, and built between 1230 and 1270. Not forgetting, a 15th-century castle and the Hall of the Vicars is the entry point to the ecclesiastical enclosure. The Hall also houses the museum where, relevantly, 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 to uncover fascinating histories. In the shape of isolated monasteries or riverside castles and finally, some of the world’s most beautiful gardens.

The historic Blarney Castle near Cork City is perhaps most famous for the Blarney Stone. It is, however, a great destination for families. 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). Therefore, for those who dare, climb to the battlements to reach the famous stone. Eventually, it could be well worth it. Take a stroll through the Blarney Castle Gardens and Rock Close for a more relaxing experience. Both, an attractive destination in their own right.

There are a range of themed gardens built into the estate, similar to Fern Garden. Located deep in the woods and, hence, 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, namely, the caged specimens of deadly nightshade, wolfsbane and poison ivy.

The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience features an authentic reproduction of an 1840s emigrant vessel. As well as a popular interpretation of the Irish famine emigrant experience. Located at New Ross, Co. Wexford, the Experience is an essential stop on any tour of the Ancient East. Follow the footsteps of the those who left during the Great Famine. An interactive tour taking you through the fateful journey made by so many Irish people.

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, namely Donald Keough, Michael Flatley and Maureen O’Hara.

Glendalough Visitor Centre is dedicated to showcasing the Glendalough monastic site, and surely, 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. Founded by Saint Kevin in the 6th century in a spectacular natural location. 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 of course, 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 is birthplace of President John F Kennedy’s great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy. It celebrates the story of five generations of this Irish dynasty. The Kennedy Homestead, in Dunganstown Co. Wexford, allows visitors to follow the fortunes of the family through the 20th century to the present day. Trace the history of those who stayed behind. Or alternatively, those who left Dunganstown on an immigrant ship to the slums of Boston. Finally, from the English court of St James to the Camelot days at the White House.

Powerscourt, undoubtedly one of Europe’s great treasures and Ireland’s most famous estates. Gracing the Wicklow Mountains and located 20 kilometres from Dublin city centre. Powerscourt is a heritage property with a surprising difference and a great family attraction. Offering visitors, a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping terraces, statues and ornamental lakes while unearthing 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 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*