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Uncover 5 unique and interesting stories in Ireland’s Ancient East
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From the Boyne Valley to the sunny southeast, Ireland’s Ancient East is home to excellent restaurants, food tours, festivals and breweries. It’s where you can see and experience 5,000 years of history and heritage.

Follow a storytelling trail through the heart of the region, to see remnants of our past brought to life in five exciting ways.

1Travel through time in the Boyne Valley

Join the Boyne Valley Activities river tour and marvel at medieval Trim from your raft while experiencing the very best of Irish eco-tourism. Float through time, as stories about the largest Norman castle in Europe and the oldest unaltered bridge in Ireland are brought to life from a river vantage point.  

Expert guides tell captivating stories while passengers sailing up the River Boyne learn about the battles that changed history and see medieval abbeys and castles. 

Back on dry land, the Trim Hay Making Festival is a fun-filled family event promoting the cultural history of rural Ireland and Irish heritage in general. It’s a magical day for people of all ages with live music, dance performances and displays of traditional ways of life.

2Hear Ireland’s only town crier

The Cork town of Youghal, home to Ireland’s only town crier, is another great spot to enjoy a storytelling trail. The Youghal Historic Town Walk follows the 13th century walls, revealing astonishing stories of its past and finishing at Youghal's best known landmark, the Clock Gate Tower. Plan to visit during the Youghal Medieval Festival for fantastic re-enactments, talks, walks, music and much more.

The most famous name associated with the seaside town is Sir Walter Raleigh. He became mayor of the town after helping to suppress a rebellion and is thought to have planted Ireland’s first potatoes in Youghal.  

3The story of 'The Big House'
Learn the intriguing stories of Castle Leslie.

Glaslough Village is a quaint, picturesque village on the outskirts of Castle Leslie Estate, also known as ‘The Big House’, in north Monaghan. Discover great stories about this picturesque spot on the Glaslough Village Heritage Trail and explore its architectural features steeped in history and the surrounding rolling, ancient woodlands and vast, glittering lakes. Castle Leslie, and its 1,000 acre estate, is the centrepiece of many of the stories about ghosts, W.B. Yeats and much more. 

Just 15 minutes from the peace and calm of Castle Leslie enjoy two lively music festivals in Monaghan. The Monaghan Town Country Music Festival has something for everyone who enjoys songs of heartbreak and homespun wisdom; while the Monaghan Rhythm & Blues Festival – Harvest Time Blues provides yet another kind of musical storytelling, this time from down Mississippi way.

4The Lost Town of Jerpoint
Explore the ruins of a lost town in Kilkenny.

Inside Jerpoint Park in Thomastown, Kilkenny, is a monument of national importance in Ireland — the 'Lost Town' of Newtown Jerpoint. Founded in the 12th century, it was once a vibrant community with 27 houses, a courthouse, woollen mill, tannery, brewery and was said to have had 14 taverns. Guided tours show visitors the interesting history of this extraordinary deserted medieval town. 

The site also contains the Tomb Effigy of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra and some say the inspiration for Santa Claus. Many Christian churches and countries still observe 6 December as his feast day with celebrations, processions, services and gift giving.

5Laois Heritage Trail
Visit The Rock of Dunamase on the Laois Heritage Trail.

The Laois Heritage Trail has a wealth of churches, abbeys and monasteries for budding historians to explore as well as vibrant stories and a rich history of local spots such as Timahoe Round Tower. Built on the site of a religious community founded by Saint Mochua, this elegant round tower is one of the best examples of 12th century stonework in Ireland. 

Explore the Laois Heritage Trail – with the free app helping to guide you along on your visit to Abbeyleix, Heywood Gardens, Emo Court, the Rock of Dunamase and many more. 

Take a short detour from the Laois Heritage Trail to Ireland’s most popular music festival - Electric Picnic. With just the right balance of popular bands and niche artists, it has the music, the atmosphere, and all the makings of an event that’ll become a memorable part of your own history.

Learn about intriguing histories and fascinating stories as you explore the beautiful towns and villages throughout Ireland’s Ancient East on your next short break.