Ireland’s Ancient East Top Attractions
GUINNESS STOREHOUSE, DUBLIN
The Guinness Storehouse is by far the most popular attraction in Ireland and is based in the heart of Dublin’s fair city. After signing a 9000 year lease on the grounds of James’s gate, Arthur Guinness was founded and establish his stout in to one of the world’s most iconic and popular drinks. Synonymous with Ireland, no visit to Dublin is complete without a trip to the Guinness Storehouse.
Located in the heart of the legendary St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, this production site has been home to the Guinness Brewery since 1759. The Guinness Storehouse building dates back to 1904 and is built in the style of the Chicago School of Architecture. It was once the fermentation plant of the brewery and is now a seven-storey visitor experience dedicated to the history of the making of this world famous beer. Begin your visit by standing in the world’s largest pint glass and learn all about the history and heritage of the brand. Wrap up your tour in the stunning gravity bar overlooking the entire city and learn how to pull the “perfect” pint of the black stuff yourself.
Route Planner From Waterford: Time: 1 hr 59 min Distance: 165.88 Km
Located in the Phoenix Park, in the heart of Dublin city, Dublin Zoo is Ireland’s most popular family attraction and as one of the world’s oldest and most popular zoos, the 70 acre park is home to some 600 animals in an environment where education and conservation combine for an exciting and unforgettable experience.
Facilities include shop, restaurant and kiosks. Most of Dublin Zoo is accessible by people with disabilities. New manual wheelchairs are available on request.Located in The Phoenix Park (one of Europe’s largest walled parks), Dublin Zoo is the third oldest Zoo in the world and home to over 400 animals.
Dublin Zoo is very well maintained and focuses heavily on conservation projects protecting its animals and different species. A day trip to the Zoo is certainly exciting and definitely educational allowing you to appreciate animals from all over the world and learn about the importance of preservation.
Route Planner: Time: 1 hr 47 min Distance: 168.49 Km
NATIONAL AQUATIC CENTRE, DUBLIN
The National Aquatic Centre is under the remit of the National Sports Campus Development Authority and is Ireland’s 3rd most popular fee paying attraction. It houses Irelands biggest individual Swimming Lessons programme (over 2,300 participants weekly), has over 5,400 Members and has won numerous major Awards over the last 3 years. In 2012 it hosted pre-Olympic training camps for teams from 13 different countries, including the Water Polo Champions Hungary and the synchronised Swimming team from the USA. The Centre was officially opened on Monday, 10 March, 2003. It successfully hosted the swimming events of the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games, the first time this event was held outside of the United States. It also hosted the European Short Course Swimming Championships in December 2003.Aqua zone is fitted with numerous water slides and lazy pools and a perfect destination for a wet and cold day with the kids! So folks! Pack the swimming goggles and flippers!
Route Planner: Time: 1 hr 42 min Distance: 166.62 Km
BOOK OF KELLS, DUBLIN
The Book of Kells is the centrepiece of an exhibition which attracts over 500,000 visitors to Trinity College in Dublin City each year. Written around the year 800 AD, the Book of Kells contains a richly decorated copy of the four gospels in a latin text, based on the Vulgate edition (completed by St. Jerome in 384 AD). The script is embellished by the elaboration of key words and phrases and by an endlessly inventive range of decorated initials and interlinear drawings.
The book contains complex scenes normally interpreted as the Arrest of Christ, His Temptation, and images of Christ, the Virgin and Child, St Matthew and St John. Originally a single volume, it was rebound in four volumes in 1953 for conservation reasons. Two volumes are normally on display, one opened at a major decorated page, the other at a text opening.
Route Planner: Time: 1 hr 59 min Distance: 165.88 Km
SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, DUBLIN
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral has been part of Ireland’s history for over 800 years and today is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Dublin. Built in honour of Ireland’s patron saint between 1220 and 1260 Saint Patrick’s Cathedral offers visitors a rich and compelling cultural experience and is one of the few buildings left from medieval Dublin. It is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland and is the largest Cathedral in the country. Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, was Dean of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1700s and he is one of many burials on site.
The Cathedral is world famous for its choir which still performs daily during school term and in recent years the Lady Chapel, dating from 1270, has been restored to its original glory and a new exhibition called Lives Remembered has opened which includes a specially commissioned tree sculpture and marks the centenary of World War 1. Guided tours of the Cathedral happen regularly throughout the day or a free App can be used for self-guide purpose.
Route Planner: Time: 1 hr 48 min Distance: 163.12 Km
TAYTO PARK, MEATH
Tayto Park is Ireland’s only theme park, hosting a variety of activities suitable for all ages. It first opened its gates in 2011 and its theme is based around the famous Irish crisp brand. Having grown extensively in the past few years visitors can visit the Zoo and see animals such as the Amur tigers, meerkats, buffalo or the adrenaline seekers can take a ride on one of their famous rides such as the Zipline Extreme, Rotator or Cu Chulainn Coaster, Europe’s largest wooden rollercoaster with an inversion! Between the zoo, numerous play areas, water features and rides, Tayto Park is fun for all ages.
Route Planner: Time: 1 hr 54 min Distance: 188.43 Km
NEWBRIDGE SILVERWARE VISITOR CENTRE
For over 80 years, Newbridge Silverware has been designing and producing quality giftware and tableware. The Newbridge Silverware Visitor Centre in Newbridge, County Kildare offers visitors a memorable experience. On offer and display is the complete and extensive Newbridge Silverware product range including cutlery, glassware, giftware, kitchenware, earthenware, homeware and jewellery. In addition, luxury collections of jewellery, gift and home products are stocked exclusively in the Newbridge based showrooms, and cannot be found anywhere else in Ireland.
The visitor centre is also home to the splendid Museum of Style Icons. This museum is a permanent exhibition dedicated to design and style excellence. It features signature pieces from Ireland’s most notable designers and showcases artefacts associated with some of the most legendary Stars of the silver screen including Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Gloria Swanson, Barbara Streisand, Julie Andrews, Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, Gloria Swanson, Jean Simmons, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jimmy Stewart, Ingrid Bergman and Barbara Stanwyck.To complete the visitor experience, the Gold Medal award winning Silver Restaurant is also on site at the Visitor Centre.
Route Planner: Time: 1 hr 24 min Distance: 126.84 Km
FOTA WILDLIFE PARK, CORK
Fota Wildlife Park is located in Carrigtwohill, just 15 minutes from Cork city, County Cork. It is a joint project between the Zoological Society of Ireland and University College Cork. Fota Wildlife Park cares for several different animal species in danger of extinction. Through long-established breeding programmes, which are run cooperatively with other institutions around the world, the park is helping restore populations of some species while protecting the very survival of others.
Some of these endangered and exotic species from around the world include cheetahs, giraffes, penguins, and zebras to name but a few. What makes Fota Wildlife Park different from the rest is that visitors come face to face with the animals as they roam freely around the park or observe twice-daily feeding times. Fota also offers education programmes and a host of child-friendly facilities such as a playground and picnic area or visit the Serengeti giftshop and Oasis restaurant. The Park also features a 2km Slí na Sláinte walking route, suitable for all levels of walkers.
Route Planner: Time: 1 hr 37 min Distance: 112.09 Km
BLARNEY CASTLE, CORK
For many years people have descended on the picturesque, 15th Century Blarney Castle with the purpose of kissing the Blarney Stone to be bestowed with the “gift of the gab”, the talent for eloquence that the Irish famously possess. The Blarney Stone is situated at the very top turret of the castle and to kiss it you have to lie on your back and reach under the battlements to kiss the stone as the wind whistles around your ears, and someone takes a firm hold of your legs! But it’s all perfectly safe and you’ll go away with something new to talk about, with a touch of Blarney. Though kissing the stone is a relatively new ritual and one that has proved hugely marketable, the association with smooth talking and Blarney goes back many centuries.
When Queen Elizabeth I of England sought to impose her rule on Ireland’s Gaelic Chiefs, The Lord of Blarney, Cormac MacCarthy, proving most elusive, would reply to her demands with flamboyant flattery rather than submission. The Queen was to reply, “this is all Blarney, he never means what he says and never does what he promises.” And so the word Blarney came into the English language, eloquent words that flatter or deceive. The history of the castle goes much further, it was built around 1446 for the MacCarthy Chieftains of Munster, though its believed a settlement was established here as early as the 10th Century.
Route Planner: Time: 1 hr 58 min Distance: 133.42 Km
ROCK OF CASHEL, TIPPERARY
One of Ireland’s most visited sites, the Rock of Cashel is a spectacular collection of medieval buildings set on an outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale. The ruins include a 12th-century round tower, high cross, Romanesque chapel, 13th-century Gothic cathedral, 15th-century castle and the Hall of the Vicars. Once the traditional seat of the High King of Munster the Rock of Cashel has had many influences over its existence it is believed to be the place where St. Patrick converted the King.
The Rock of Cashel, also known as St Patrick’s Rock, is located just 500 metres from the centre of Cashel Town, County Tipperary. The site includes an audio-visual show and exhibitions. Open all Year: Refer to website for opening time details. Rock of Cashel is closed 24th to 26th December inclusive. Please note that all groups must be pre-booked.
For those of you looking for a dining experience in a setting fit for a High King…check out Chez Hans Restaurant, at the foot of the Rock. Hans-Peter Matthiä and family set up this fascinating rural hideaway in 1968 and, since then, have lovenly restored this converted synod hall (complete with stained glass windows)into a restaurant that has become a must-visit destination for travellers exploring Tipperary’s Golden Vale.
Route Planner: Time: 1 hr 14 min Distance: 70.84 Km
Lismore Castle is situated in a panoramic position overlooking the Blackwater Valley it has views over rolling, wooded hills to the Knockmealdown Mountains beyond. Whilst being totally private, the Castle is on the outskirts of the Heritage Town of Lismore and a mere 200 yard walk to all its amenities. Steeped in history, Henry II visited Lismore in 1171 and chose a site for a castle. Raymond le Gros and his Anglo-Normans ransacked the town two years later and Henry’s castle site was built upon by Prince John in 1185. The castle passed to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1589 and Raleigh sold it to Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, in 1602. In 1753, the castle passed to the 4th Duke of Devonshire on his marriage to Lady Charlotte and the present castle is still owned by the Devonshires.
The Castle is very much a family home and is not open for public tours. However, Lismore Castle is the perfect setting for every type of event; be it a family gathering, an executive retreat, a grand marquée event, a celebration banquet or an intimate wedding, Lismore Castle offers unique charm and appeal in a magnificent setting. With accommodation capacity for up to 27 people, elegant rooms reveal a history that includes the Boyle, Astaire, Mitford and Devonshire families. The stunning décor and rich furnishings are complemented by the staff’s impeccable attention to detail.
Housed in the once-derelict West wing of Lismore Castle, Lismore Arts Gallery currently hosts one major exhibition per year, as well as a dynamic programme of tours, workshops and other arts related events. Visitors are also invited to stroll through the beautiful Gardens at Lismore Castle and enjoy several pieces of contemporary sculpture that have been installed on permanent display.
Spread over nearly 3 hectares, the historic gardens at Lismore Castle in County Waterford are divided into two very distinct and different halves. The Upper Garden is a complete example of the 17th-century walled garden first constructed here by Richard Boyle, the First Earl of Cork, in about 1605. The outer walls and terraces remain and the plantings have changed to match the tastes of those living within the castle.
The Lower Garden was mostly created in the 19th century for the Sixth Duke of Devonshire, Joseph Paxton’s patron. This garden is informal with shrubs, trees and lawns while the stately Yew Avenue is much older. The gardens contain a fine collection of magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons, herbaceous borders and contemporary sculpture and a remarkable yew walk where Edmund Spenser is said to have written ‘The Faerie Queen’
Route Planner: Time: 1 hr 3 min Distance: 71.31 Km
HOUSE OF WATERFORD CRYSTAL, WATERFORD
Waterford Crystal has moved to a magnificent new home into the heart of the city to the Viking Triangle, surrounding itself with some of the oldest and most significant buildings of Waterford city including Bishops Palace, Greyfriars Church, Christ Church Cathedral, Reginald’s Tower, and the most recently built, multi award winning, Medieval Museum.
A unique highlight of a visit is the factory tour which gives an up close insight into the centuries old history and tradition of Waterford Crystal making. Feel the heat of the furnace and marvel at the skills of our craftsmen.The factory tour includes the following traditional production areas; wooden mould making, crystal blowing and furnace, crystal cutting and quality inspection and finishing.
There are many stages to creating this beautiful product include crystal sculpting, engraving and design inspiration. After the tour indulge your passion for the world’s most famous crystal in a lavish retail store, which houses the largest collection of Waterford Crystal found anywhere in the world. An exhibition of sporting trophies and statement pieces is an absolute must see attraction.
The complimentary visitor retail experience includes the largest display of Waterford Crystal in the world, retail store, exhibition and crystal installation areas, coffee shop and worldwide shipping facility.
SMITHWICK’S EXPERIENCE KILKENNY
Located just 5 minutes walk from Kilkenny castle, Smithwick’s Experience is a new multi-sensory and interactive experience, named as on of Lonely Planet’s top 26 attractions in 2015, takes the visitor on a journey through the medieval origins of brewing on the site of the St. Francis Abbey Brewery to the arrival of John Smithwick in the 1700’s, and right up to the present day. Visitors will be fully immersed in the history of Smithwick’s, Ireland’s oldest beer brand, the amazing heritage of the Smithwick’s family and its place in Kilkenny, a city steeped in history and brewing.
Guided by a giant seven foot high hologram monk welcoming you to the brewery the tour takes you through a candle lit cavern, just as it was when the monks came there all those centuries ago. During the tour, the Smithwick’s brewing process will be brought to life with visitors having the opportunity to experience the smells, tastes and textures of the raw materials involved in creating the perfect pint of ale. French, German, Spanish and Italian speaking visitors will be offered an audio guide to take them through the tour, which lasts approximately 70 minutes.
Route Planner: Time: 0 hr 42 min Distance: 50.85 Km
Kilkenny City, home to ireland’s medieval Mile, offers a wealth of visitor attractions and experiences from Kilkenny Castle to St Canice’s Cathedral, Rothe House and everything in between. Visit historic buildings, towering cathedrals, winding slipways and of course, for some retail therapy, check out the famous Kilkenny Design Centre, all within walking distance of each other and in a city renowned for its fine dining, great shopping and entertainment.
Located in the heart of the city is 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 Parade Tower is the Castle’s conference venue.
Visitors can explore the Butler Gallery within the Castle at their leisure. The Butler Gallery offers visitors excellent contemporary exhibitions.
Route Planner: Time: 0 hr 40 min Distance: 49.66 Km