If you’re planning to explore this summer, here are some of the fascinating heritage sites from around the country.
Take a self-guided tour around the site where King James II and King William III clashed in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 or go for a stroll on some of the estate’s serene nature trails. The estate at Oldbridge House is now open, with the impressive walled garden reserved for cocooners between 10am and 1pm.
The magnificent Céide Fields features the oldest stone-walled fields in the world, megalithic tombs, a spectacular viewing platform, vibrant bogland and dramatic sea cliffs. The stunning scenery, wild landscape and archaeological relics make it a great place to spend a few hours. Note the visitor centre is closed until the end of July for renovations but you can still visit the ancient site.
The magical gardens of Ilnacullin on Garinish Island are an oasis of bright colours, epic architecture, glorious landscaping, exotic plants and stunning sea views over Bantry Bay. The creative brainchild of Annan Bryce and Harold Pinto, you can reach these tranquil gardens on a short ferry ride that also takes in a visit to a local seal colony.
A visit to Jerpoint Abbey is like a trip to an outdoor art museum, thanks to the incredible sculptures you’ll discover around the 800-year-old site. Among the abbey’s most famous carvings are the images of the saints and apostles, which are as impressive now as they would have been hundreds of years ago. You could easily spend hours studying the architectural details on a walk around this beautiful old abbey.
Parke’s Castle may be closed, but you can still enjoy a relaxing walk around the picturesque landmark on the shores of Lough Gill. There’s a nearby carpark with a seating area where you can soak up wonderful views of the lake in the shadow of the restored plantation castle.
Although Tintern Abbey is closed, the grounds have some great trails that feature stone bridges, mixed woodlands, the Tintern River and floral forest floors. So you can still take advantage of the quiet paths and enchanting surrounds of this famous Wexford landmark.
Ireland’s largest Anglo-Norman castle, Trim Castle, was famously used as a location for the film Braveheart, and it’s easy to see why. Trim Castle is remarkably well-preserved and is still a striking spectacle almost 850 years after it was built. The keep is closed, but admission is free for anyone who wants to take a walk within the castle walls.
The semi-fortified house that is Portumna Castle is certainly imposing, but it also wins you over with its eye-catching architecture, geometrical avenues, manicured gardens and hidden delights like the willow maze. A walk around the walled garden is a great way to relax, just remember the area is reserved for cocooners from 10am to 1pm.
There are great estates and there is Emo Court, a vast parklands estate in Laois with a magnificent neo-classical mansion as its centrepiece. From the moment you pass through the mile-long Wellington Avenue flanked by giant sequoia trees, enjoy a wonderland of formal gardens and woodland walks where you can catch a glimpse of red squirrels and buzzards. The grounds are reserved for cocooners from 10am to 1pm.
Constructed in 1332, Roscrea Castle and its grounds are now home to the elegant Georgian house, Damer House, and formal gardens that are a perfect venue for a stroll. Walk around the gardens and take in the box hedges, ornate fountain, herbaceous beds and the stone castle rising in the background. The grounds and walled gardens are reserved for cocooners from 10am to 1pm.
These are just some of the many fantastic heritage sites around Ireland. There’s never been a better time to get out into your local area and take advantage of the attractions on your own doorstep.