Discover Neolithic tombs, prehistoric sites and mythical landscapes.
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Watch the sunrise over a landscape as old as time and discover the Land of 5,000 Dawns. Made up of counties Cavan, Longford, Louth, Meath, Monaghan and Westmeath, history and myth collide here in a place where almost every village, monument and great house comes with its own legend of warring giants or eccentric aristocrats.
Where the slain still remember St Patrick, He lit a fire for the people to see, ‘Ere he brought love and kindness to Ireland, And the beautiful county of Meath.
Go exploring and you’ll find marvels of Palladian architecture, fossils from a dinosaur age, and a castle owned by descendants of Attila the Hun. This is Ireland’s Ancient East… and it’s time to wander through 5,000 years of history.
In a quiet part of County Meath lies one of the great treasures of the ancient world. Built in 3200 BC, this is Newgrange, a passage tomb older than the pyramids and just as mysterious – and the secret it reveals each year on the winter solstice secret is extraordinary.
Wow! The genius of the characterisation of the main chamber, being lit with the rising sun during the winter solstice, is just mind blowing.
At dawn on the 21st of December, a shaft of light from the rising sun pierces the small opening above the entrance, creeping slowly along the stone passageway and illuminating the burial chamber at the heart of the monument. The ancient builders of Newgrange are honouring their dead.
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Monasterboice, County Louth
Hill of Slane, County Meath
St Peter’s Church, County Louth
Perched in the middle of the hilly Cooley Peninsula is the medieval town of Carlingford. Here, you’ll find traces of the Vikings and the Normans, a castle that’s said to be haunted by a headless ghost, quirky boutiques, and restaurants serving delicious seafood, fresh from Carlingford Lough.
The Táin Bó Cuailnge legend from 12th century Irish literature (often translated as The Cattle Raid of Cooley) tells the epic saga of Queen Medbh of Connacht and the warrior Cúchulainn.
This is a place rife with myth and legend. Resting beneath the lough are the feet of legendary giant Fionn MacCumhail, sweeping down from his grave beneath Louth’s highest mountain, Slieve Foy. And don’t forget the leprechauns – the last 236 on the island are hiding on Carlingford’s Fairy Hill.
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Patrick Kavanagh Centre, County Monaghan
Castle Leslie, County Monaghan
Cavan Burren Park, County Cavan
Who would guess that behind the tranquil Victorian walled gardens and enchanting woodland trails of Belvedere House lies one of the most dramatic family histories in Ireland? This grand Palladian country house was built as a hunting lodge for Robert Rochfort in 1774, but it wasn’t quite the peaceful retreat you might imagine.
At the house you can hear the story of the jealous Earl who locked his wife away for several years because he suspected her of infidelity.
Having locked up his wife in his previous home on suspicion of an affair with his brother Arthur, Robert later set about constructing what’s known as the Jealous Wall in the grounds of Belvedere, to hide the larger and more impressive house of another estranged brother, George, on a neighbouring estate.
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Corlea Trackway, County Longford
Hill of Uisneach, County Westmeath
Kilbeggan Distillery, County Westmeath
Fact: Ireland’s Ancient East is defined by its past, all 5,000 years of it. But that doesn’t mean that this historic region doesn’t know how to have fun. Across the counties of Ireland’s Ancient East, countless festivals are celebrating art, opera, comedy, food, music and more.