Immerse yourself in over 5000 years of history in Ireland's Ancient East
Planning a trip to Ireland? For your next Ireland vacation, consider experiencing the magnificence of Ireland's Ancient East. Roam the homelands of Ireland's High Kings and ancient gods as you immerse yourself in a past from long before recorded time.
Many visitors to Ireland arrive in Dublin and head to the coast but this strategy misses most of Ireland's Ancient East where there is so much to see! On this unique and intimate excursion, group size is limited to a maximum of eight persons. We begin by exploring the mystical Irish Midlands, the sacred center of Ireland, and our journey unfolds as we immerse ourselves in The Historic Heartlands and The Land of 5000 dawns. The scenic Celtic Coast then beckons as we turn south to Cobh and work our way up to Wexford and Wicklow before concluding our experience in Dublin with plenty of time to explore Ireland's capital before heading home with many pleasant memories and new friends.
Day 1: The Midlands
Start your magical journey when you step off the plane in Dublin. Your guide will meet you as you exit customs and transport you to Mullingar to start your Irish vacation in The Magical Midlands. Here you will have time to freshen up and perhaps catch a quick nap. Your tour kicks off early the next day so relax, recharge, perhaps explore the lovely town of Mullingar and meet your guide and fellow travellers at our Welcome Dinner.
The town of Mullingar, in County Westmeath boasts a few hidden treasures such as De Profundis Stone and the Longest Bridge in Ireland.
Our Welcome Dinner is at the award winning Wiers Bar and Restaurant in nearby Multyfarnham.
Ireland's Ancient East is a magical land with monuments and buildings going back beyond recorded time even older than the pyramids of Egypt. Your tour explores all three regions of Ireland's Ancient East:
- Ancient Land of 5000 Dawns
- The Celtic Coast
- The Historic Heartlands
Day 2: Ireland's Sacred Center
Have you ever heard of water flowing uphill? Well, its true and you will find out more along with the other Seven Wonders of Fore on your visit to Fore Abbey. But not before a full and proper Irish breakfast!
If water flowing uphill does not amaze you, then be prepared to stand on special ground at the sacred center of Ireland and the place where Ireland got her name, Éire in the Irish language. For it was at this exact spot, the Stone of Divisions on the Hill of Uisneach where the goddess Ériu met the invading Milesians. Thought to be the modern day Celts and in exchange for granting them all the land above demanded that the island be named after her; and so it was. This spot has long been the traditional dividing point for the Four Provinces Ulster, Leinster, Connaught and Ulster. It is also believed to be the sacred and royal fifth province of Midhe.
Next, we are off to Athlone Castle situated on the mighty Shannon River, gateway between east and west.
After a pint in Sean's Bar, literally the oldest pub in Europe let alone Ireland, we start working our way back to Mullingar but not before stopping to tour The Kilbeggan Distillery and the famous Jealous Wall at Belvedere House and Gardens.
Day 3: Ancient Pathways
Most people have heard of the ancient roads of Rome, connecting an entire empire. But did you know that the ancient Irish had a road system too, dating to the Iron age and much older than Rome? First up today, we visit a preserved section of the ancient wooden road, the Corlea Trackway. These wooden paths connected many parts of Ireland over bogs, peat, 'quicksand' and were maintained by the local chieftain of the clan or tribe.
Not quite as ancient as the Trackway, our next visit takes us to Drumlane Round Tower near Milltown. The Drumlane Round Tower dates to 555 A.D. and was founded by St. Columba. Besides this ancient tower we enjoy breathtaking views overlooking Garfinny Lough before we set out for our next stop of the day.
Our pathway keeps us in County Cavan where we head to the Cavan Museum to explore some interesting treasures. Here we can see one of the most recognizable samples of ancient Celtic spirituality; The Killycluggin Stone. Other treasures include a medieval dugout boat, Sheela na Gigs and a World War I trench experience. Thinking of Sheela Na Gigs, be sure to ask your guide and driver to show you one of the few remaining in Ireland outside of museums on our way back to Mullingar!
Last stop of the day before our return to Mullingar and a hearty dinner, (and perhaps a few pints), is the town of Kells. The Book of Kells is now housed in Trinity College, Dublin but it is still worth seeing the place where it was created. At Kells we are treated to some very well preserved high crosses and St. Colmcille's House.
Day 4: The Boyne Valley
After our customary Irish breakfast, we journey to the Boyne River Valley where we visit the ancient passage tomb of Newgrange. This is followed by a visit to the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Center. Before we reach the Boyne, we take a stop at Loughcrew.
Loughcrew lies along three ridges known as the "Witches Hops." We walk to the central summit to explore Cairn T, the largest of the passage tombs. As seen from Uisneach, Cairn T will align with the midsummer sunrise.
Extending the same radial line from Uisneach another 65 kilometres, we would be inline with Slieve Gullion in County Armagh which connects sacred Uisneach with both Leinster and Ulster.
The midwinter sunset also aligns, reversed back through Uisneach completing the 180 degree cycle from midsummer sunrise to midwinter sunset.
The megalithic structures at Newgrange are older than the pyramids of Egypt and older than Stonehenge, having been built over 5000 years ago. Marvel at such an engineering feat accomplished by the inhabitants of Ireland even before the time of the Celts. On the winter solstice after the longest night of the year, the sun will rise and shine through an engineered portal to the deepest recess of the chamber. Some say of this feat it is reminding us that despite the darkness, hope and rebirth always begin anew in the endless cycle of time.
The visitor center at The Battle of The Boyne heritage site is a fantastic venue to learn about so much of today's Irish history. See the how William of Orange took on The English King Charles II and how decisive the battle became. The impact of the Battle of the Boyne is still with us today as Ireland is still divided between the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland and her 6 northern counties which are still part of the UK.
If we stop here, woe could say we've had a busy day but it is not over yet! On our way back to our base in Mullingar we pause to visit the Hill of Tara and Trim Castle.
At the Hill of Tara we find the Destiny Stone. It was here that the ancient High Kings of Ireland were crowned. As we learned earlier Tara and Uisneach are closely related with Tara being the ceremonial location for crowning of the high kings and Uisneach being where they resided. Do you remember the remains of the ancient road we pointed out at Uisneach?
Day 5: Mystical Lake and The Blarney Stone!
We have become accustomed to not packing and unpacking everyday but some good things must at times come to an end as today we pack up and leave Mullingar as we venture into the Heartland of Ireland's Ancient East. After (you guessed it), a hearty breakfast, we break camp and are off to see the Rock of Cashel. The Rock of Cashel is the ancient seat of the Kings of Munster and the legend goes goes much farther back into mythology having been created when St. Patrick banished the devil from a cave.
We are not finished with Mythology for today, as next up is the mystical Lough Gur where we view the hollow mountain, home of the Fairy King and learn about the legend of the Earl of Desmond and the Castle at the bottom of the lake. We even make a stop at the largest stone circle in all of Ireland before we depart to kiss the Blarney Stone!
Our day's journey concludes in Cobh, an historic town on The Celtic Coast which served as the departure point for many a prison ship, famine ship, and was also the last port of call for the Titanic on her maiden voyage.
Day 6: Ireland's Celtic Coast
After our customary Irish breakfast, today's journey takes us along Ireland's Celtic Coast. After our morning in Cobh, we set out for Midelton where we leap through history at the Jameson Irish Whiskey Experience. At the end of the tour you have the opportunity to taste the differences between Scotch, American and Irish whiskeys and come to the inevitable conclusion Irish wins 🙂
Next we are off to Ardmore and Dunbrody. The village of Ardmore boasts a sweeping beach along with one of the oldest Christian settlements found in Ireland. At the ruins of St. Declan's monastic site, visitors see a well preserved round tower and cathedral dating from the 12th century.
We continue on to Dunbrody Abbey, one of the most impressive ruins of a Cistercian monastery to be found in Ireland. The Abbey, along with Dunbrody Castle are located in a scenic stretch of County Wexford.
Day 7: Wicklow
We have a full day ahead of us so as we have done all week, we recharge with a full Irish after a good night's sleep and set our sights on Hook Lighthouse which has guided ships for over 800 years. For those who feel up to it, climb the 115 steps to the balcony and take in the spectacular views of the coastline.
We continue up the coast to Wicklow Gaol a really haunting experience and the monastic ruins of Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains.
After a very busy day, we find ourselves off to Dublin where we check into our hotel and enjoy our dinner.
Day 8: Dublin
How could we let you leave Ireland without a full day in Dublin. After breakfast and a 2-hour walking tour of the city center, today is yours to explore Dublin. Will you pub hop in Temple Bar? Or perhaps take the Guinness Storehouse tour? For outdoor activities you might take in St. Stephen's Green or even The Phoenix Park. If shopping is your thing then you will certainly enjoy Grafton Street. The choice is all yours.
At the end of the day, we provide a farewell dinner, or if you choose, you may continue to explore the city on your own.
Day 9: Slán Abhaile
What a wonderful and magical week it has been! As much as we hate to say farewell, your journey through this magical land we call Ireland comes to an end. Until we have the pleasure of meeting again it's off to the airport where we bid you Slán Abhaile, a safe journey home. It has been our pleasure and privilege to have escorted you through Ireland's Ancient East and we look forward to welcoming you back again real soon.
- Tour Highlights
- Included in Package
- Tour Map
- Athlone Castle
- Hill of Uisneach
- Fore Abbey
- Loughcrew Cairns
- Battle of Boyne Visitor Center
- Corlea Trackway and Cavan Museum
- Cobh and Scenic Celtic Coast
- Wicklow and Glengalough
- Dublin Walking Tour
Eight night's accommodation
Full Irish breakfast each morning (except day of arrival)
Comfortable Passenger Van
Full 24x7 Support during your visit
Entrance to all Listed Attractions
Dublin Airport Transfers
GROUP SIZE LIMITED TO EIGHT PERSONS
4 nights - Bloomfield House Hotel, Mullingar
1 night - Cobh or Kinsale
1 night - Waterford
2 Nights - Central Hotel, Dublin
Note: We reserve the right to substitute alternative hotel accommodation or activities based on availability and seasonal factors beyond the control of Ancient Ireland Tourism, Ltd. All bookings are subject to our Terms and Conditions.
About Our Tours
- Groups limited to 8 persons for a relaxed and intimate experience (Tour will operate with a minimum of four persons)
- Our comfortable transport can easily go where the larger buses can't
- 24/7 support during your Ireland Vacation
- Meet authentic people and experience the real Ireland
- Irish tour guides with deep local knowledge of history, culture, myth and legend
- No hidden extras - your tour itinerary clearly states what is included
- All of our descriptions are sample itineraries which serve as the framework for our tours. Seasonal variations such as open/close times, daylight hours, and weather conditions may require schedule adjustments. At the same time, all of our tours are fully customizable for any group - not limited to rigid itineraries. Want to see something not listed along the way? Just ask! Your guide will work with you and your group to adjust the schedule in order to accommodate your requests.