When you explore Ireland’s Ancient East, you wander through 5,000 years of history.

In these lush, green lands, tales of feuding dynasties hide behind crumbling Gothic architecture; ghostly tombs predate the pyramids; and knights, kings, monks and Vikings loom large in incredible stories.

This is 5,000 years of history. This is Ireland’s Ancient East.

Learn the stories of a place and you’ll come to understand the soul of its people. From ancient high kings to modern day poets, saints and scholars to ramblers and fishermen, Ireland’s Ancient East pulsates with legendary tales.

Ireland’s Ancient East is an exciting visitor experience that will transport you from the Boyne Valley in the North East, south through medieval Kilkenny and Viking Waterford, and onward to beautiful East Cork – with lots in between!


Ireland’s Ancient East is crammed with wonderful, quirky things to do for the whole family. Whether it’s exploring the eerie dungeons of Wicklow Gaol or zip-lining though the forest in Meath, there are a wealth of unique experiences waiting to be sampled.

1. Irish National Heritage Park, Wexford

Five thousand years of Irish history is showcased at the Irish National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig, Wexford. With 16 separate sites dotted through 35 acres of woodland and wetland, try a family sleepover in a replica 1,500-year-old ring fort—it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that the kids are bound to love.

2. Wicklow Gaol, Wicklow

The once infamous Wicklow Gaol operated between 1702 and 1922 and played an important role in our history. Today, a brilliant, interactive tour led by energetic guides helps accentuate the spooky eerie atmosphere of hardship and despair; visitors of all ages will feel the chill as they listen to the daily punishment regimes and the strange tales of haunted happenings.

3. Carlingford Adventure Centre, Louth

The pretty, medieval town of Carlingford has little trouble attracting day-trippers and thrill-seekers, who will have plenty to keep them busy. From zorbing to rock-climbing, abseiling to kayaking, there’s something to appeal to all ages and levels of skill at Carlingford Adventure Centre.

4. Cavan Burren Park, Cavan

In Cavan Burren Park, fascinating Neolithic tombs, hut sites and ancient rock art co-exists alongside striking 19th century ruins and 350 million-year-old fossils. Discover one of the country’s most striking landscapes—the perfect great spot for family fun in the great outdoors.

5. Birr Castle, Offaly

The famous Leviathan telescope of Birr Castle Science and Gardens Centre will appeal to amateur astronomers everywhere, but younger explorers aren’t forgotten either: the country’s largest treehouse is here, plus an abundance of sand pits and climbing frames for eager explorers.

6. Irish National Stud, Kildare

The Irish National Stud is one of the world’s leading thoroughbred breeding centres, and a guided tour is the best way to see these magnificent creatures up close. Top your visit off with a wander through the adjoining Japanese Gardens—a horticultural masterpiece designed and laid out by one of Japan’s great horticulturalists, Tassa Eida and his son Minoru.

7. Kilkenny Way Ultimate Hurling Experience and Castlecomer Discovery Park, Kilkenny

The hands-on Kilkenny Way Ultimate Hurling Experience offers a great introduction to an ancient game and demonstrates the finer points of blocking and free-taking. More family fun is in store at the nearby Castlecomer Discovery Park, where a range of attractions include woodland trails and a zipline.

8. Hook Head Lighthouse and Dunbrody Famine Ship, Wexford

Thought to be the oldest operating lighthouse in the world, the magnificent beacon of Hook Head Lighthouse has been guiding ships entering Waterford Harbour for almost 800 years. The nearby Dunbrody Famine Ship and Irish Emigrant Experience is another unmissable attraction in the area; costumed characters and interactive tours will capture the imagination of children of all ages.

9. Shandon Bells, English Market and Ballycotton Lighthouse, Cork

For a unique experience, visit the legendary Shandon Bells in Cork City. Become a bell ringer for the afternoon before exploring the inner workings of the famous clock, then climb 132 steps to enjoy spectacular 360 degree views of the city. Afterwards, forage for a feast in the English Market or visit the picturesque Ballycotton Lighthouse to round off the day.

10. Loughcrew Adventure Centre, Meath

Brave enough to tackle the longest zip-line in Ireland? Head to Loughcrew Adventure Centre near Oldcastle, for zip-lining, archery, climbing trees and a chance to explore the Forest Crystal Maze. Loughcrew Gardens and coffee shop are waiting nearby for some post-adventure rest and relaxation.

Entry Points
  • Airports

    Dublin Airport
    Waterford Airport
    Cork Airport

  • Ports

    Dublin Port
    Dun Laoghaire Port
    Cork Harbour