6. Feast your eyes on the sights of “Ireland’s Ancient East” on a visit to Irish National Heritage Park, Co. Wexford
The largest open-air archaeology park in the country, visitors are taken on a 9,000-year journey through Ireland’s history. Key features include a full recreation of a crannog (an ancient Irish dwelling constructed in a lake), Fulacht Fia cooking sites and a multitude of ringforts. A recently opened 180m trail shows those brave enough to venture, through a marshy, wet landscape so that you can experience first-hand a landscape that may have been familiar to our Stone Age ancestors.
7. Roam to your heart’s content through the gardens and rooms of Kilkenny Castle, Co Kilkenny
Built at a crucial point in the River Nore, this castle can be found in the heart of Kilkenny city. Visitors young and old can explore the sights this Norman Castle has to offer, ranging from a café located within the castle walls, a long stretching garden, a forest walk adjacent to the river and a playground for children. The Butler gallery is the site of an ever-changing collection of art, being host to exhibition in 2015 including artwork from Oscar-nominated Kilkenny animation studio “Cartoon Saloon”.
8. Unlock the secrets of brewing a world-famous beer at Smithwick’s Experience Brewery Tour, Co Kilkenny
Opening to the public in July 2014, Smithwick’s Brewery offers an insight on the brewing of Irish draft beer Smithwicks, a draft that allegedly “took over 300 years to perfect”. Situated five minutes from Kilkenny Castle, visitors are shown the process of creating the ideal ale. The tour is extremely interactive and those over 18 are offered a complimentary pint of Smithwicks at the end of the tour. The tour is also family friendly, with an offer of a complimentary soft drink for young visitors.
9. Take in the beautiful Comeragh Mountains, Co. Waterford.
Less than an hour from the Viking city of Waterford , this mountain range boasts incredible views of Co Waterford. Hikers can get the chance to see Coumshingaun a lake formed as a result of a glacier thousands of years ago. You can hike from the coastal Co Waterford town of Dungarvan to the Tipperary town of Clonmel. There are a few trails to take such as Crouhan Walk and The Mahon Falls and Coum Tay, you can choose depending on your desired length of hike.
10. Learn about the Norman Connection to Reginald’s Tower, Co Waterford.
This ancient tower stands at the eastern end of Waterford City’s quay and is part of the historical tour of the Viking Triangle. The tower is one of six towers that aided in the defence of this Viking city. Its existence dates back to the 12th century. The only building in Ireland named to honour a Viking, the tower is famous for being the marriage place of Aoife and Strongbow, a Norman lord. On display is a 9th century Viking Sword, the Waterford Kite Brooch and the exhibition details the Vikings’ voyage to Ireland. Next to the tower is a magnificent recreation of a Viking longboat.
This article was beautifully written by Eilis Walsh.