Ireland has its wealth of stories, from castles and moats to hills and fairies.
Discover the best-kept secrets of these ancient Celtic sites in Ireland…
One of the best ways to indulge in Ireland other than its Irish Whiskies, Irish music, and dance..would be the Irish history and folklore (not forgetting the magical tales of the Irish Leprechauns)
This country is so rich in history and culture, with each ancient site having an amazing story behind it. If there is more time to truly immerse in the country further, I would have spent at least a month here going around by car to see every cranny to see all the most beautiful places in Ireland. But for now, let’s focus on and present Ireland’s ancient east:
List of Magical Irish Sites to Explore:
1. The Rock of Cashel
This spectacular archaeological site has a collection of medieval ecclesiastical buildings made out of limestone during the Golden Vale.
The 12th-century tower is one of the oldest surviving buildings, and the surrounding Cormac Chapel is also one of the 1st few grandest churches ever built in the Romanesque style. We had a lovely time walking the grounds, with its towering walls, huge outdoor cemetery space, and looking beyond, the acres and acres of plains. This is indeed one of the highest points on the Rock of Cashel.
A nice place to recommend for a quick bite around here is at the Rock House restaurant. Lovely affordable food in a cozy 2 story place, and I had a big shepherd’s pie with a seafood stew with it. The food was so good that I finished it all and couldn’t really do much walking after that.
2. Slaned at the magnificent Slane Castle
Some call it a castle, I call it home.
Standing outside, you will be able to see the large expanse of land that is used to host big concerts like the Rolling Stones and U2 with over 90,000 people on this premise. MADNESS!
This castle is actually still occupied, but they open it for people to visit. One thing I really love about it is that tourists get to actually sit on the sofas and chairs while having our tour. Makes me feel like a princess.
This castle also gets open for rental as a wedding space twice a year, and it happened that the day we visited was one of those 2 days. I love the little stairways inside, especially the servant quarters stairs, which remind me exactly of Downton Abbey with its team of butlers and housemaids rushing up and down. A must-visit if you are a castle lover.
3. Ancient burial sites in Ireland – Neolithic passage tomb at Brú na Boinne and Knowth
The walking dead…
Stroll and take a walking tour through this UNESCO World Heritage site and be greatly impressed by its beauty and neat hills. We really loved walking these grounds and learning the history of the tombstones.
FUN FACT: these ancient burial sites in Ireland passage tombstones come alive with sunlight on each winter solstice. Being 5,000 years old, this place is actually even older than the Great Wall of China, Pyramids of Egypt, and Stonehenge.
How amazing is that?
4. Get Brave at Trim Castle
Walk the grounds of where they filmed the famous Mel Gibson film, Braveheart. This 1,000-year-old castle is still standing strong and has a stunning view from the top. This ancient Celtic site view from the top reminds me a little of Warwick Castle in the UK.
5. Making our own Local Irish House Pour – Gin-making back to its roots
Lovely little distillery to get your hands busy, and your tummies happy
Listoke Distillery and Gin School- this quaint little place is a must-visit for those who love gin and want to try making your very own bespoke bottle. I had so much fun here and the hosts are excellent. The school also has such interesting stories behind its history/ premise and the history of the 2 adorable white owls. Make sure to see them when you are here.
5. Carlingford – Irish fairies and leprechauns
The final but amazing last stop in our Ireland Ancient East trip is at this pretty little coastal town of Carlingford. Other than its very pretty hills and serene sea, it’s very popular with young people to do outdoor adventures like hiking/ water sports. If you are going about Ireland in a campervan, or as part of one of the Ireland tours, you can also add this as a stopping point.
A great place to stop for lunch is PJ O Hares. The oysters are truly spectacular and known to be very fresh here.
Ancient Celtic Sites in Ireland: Leprechaun Park and Magic
You would ask me, is fairies and leprechaun in Ireland real?
Well, let’s find out. One thing that you MUST visit here is the Leprechaun Park, where Ireland’s last Leprechaun Whisperer ‘McCoillte’ Kevin Woods, tells you his stories and the secrets of the lives of the Leprechauns. In 1989, a leprechaun suite/ boms and gold coins were found on Carlingford Mountain in Co Louth Ireland. Mcoillte organized a leprechaun hunt that year to try to catch one but none was found. In 2002, he again found some gold coins, this time in a stone wall at Ghan Road which enabled him to communicate with “Carraig” the elder, and learn that there are 236 surviving leprechauns in Ireland.
So where are these last surviving Irish Leprechauns?
By 2009 they were afforded protection by the E.U. under the European Habitats Directive. In 2010, Kevin Woods published his first book “The Last Leprechauns of Ireland” based on their lives.
This surreal peaceful park also houses many secrets like the underground tunnel for spotting Irish fairies and leprechauns, the proposal stone (another story there;)), fairy houses/ fairy rings, and many more. Don’t come with a closed mind – come, open your eyes and immerse in the mystic and curiosity like a child, and you will enjoy it better.
Just before we departed on the last day, I stole a little hike up the hills of Ancient Ireland Carlingford to catch the sunrise and had a really special mountain top moment/ encounter up there all by myself and the grazing sheep. It was a Sunday and my heart was filled with joy and gratitude that day, I couldn’t stop singing and dancing. I left that mountain releasing any hindrances holding me back and look forward into the sunrise with hope and courage. Whatever follows is only going to get better, I can feel it already.
While you travel to the breathtaking and magical places of Ireland, plan ahead and also book your various airbnbs or accommodations in Dublin, Carlingford, or Galway in advance. One of the recommended affordable student or budget-conscious options includes AmberStudent, a one-click platform that provides comfortable and affordable accommodations.
So what are you waiting for, the leprechauns and castles of Ireland await?