McGettigans is the place to be as you explore Ireland’s Ancient East. Ireland is an land of natural beauty and rich history, carpeted by lush landscapes and idyllic towns and framed by the River Shannon and the Irish Sea. The Ancient East covers the area outside Dublin and east of the River Shannon, extending from Carlingford to Cavan and south to Cork City, including East County Cork and East County Limerick.
Start your adventure at Glendalough, a glacial valley in County Wicklow. For thousands of years people have been drawn to ‘the valley of the two lakes’ for its spectacular scenery, rich history, archaeology and abundant wildlife. Glendalough is a remarkable place that will still your mind and is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. Despite its immense popularity, Glendalough is a deeply tranquil and spiritual place. The Royal Hotel Bray is only 40 minutes drive from Glendalough.
Next stop Bray Head Cliff Walk, still in County Wicklow. This 7km linear walk takes you from Bray to Greystones along the breathtaking coastal path. The path is well-maintained and you can return by Dart to the starting point. Greystones has beautiful views and a range of marine wildlife. From the Bray start, there is a path leading to the top of Bray Head offering impressive views of the Irish Sea, the Wicklow Mountains and Bray.
Wicklow Gaol is up next. As one of Irelands’ top tourist destinations, it tells the story of its prisoners through an interactive tour led by experienced and passionate actor guides. Wicklow Gaol was originally built in the late eighteenth century though there has been a jail on the site since 1702. The jail building is three stories in height with an extensive basement and yard area. The walls were constructed from thick granite slabs and rubble stone.
Then head down further south to Cork and make a pitstop at Ballycotton Lighthouse. Built in the late 1840s, its sits atop the untouched Ballycotton Island. Explore the lighthouse and enjoy the stunning views from the red lantern balcony. The rare black lighthouse is only accessible by boat, making the trip a little bit more special. Walk the original lightkeepers path to the islands summit for a chance to meet some of the resident goats.
Head due west to Cork City and enjoy the unique experience of ringing the world famous Shandon Blls from the first floor at St Anne’s Church. Climb 132 steps and see 360 degree views of the city at 120ft. The Ambassador Hotel Cork is the perfect place to stay in Cork City.
While you’re in town visit Cork City Gaol, located 2km from St Patricks Street. The magnificent castle-like building is now a major visitor attraction, where one can get to see the day-to-day 19th century prison life at a time when the high walls ensured no escape.
End the southern leg of your tour with a day trip to Fota Island in Cork Harbour, host to the historical Fota House and Gardens and Ireland’s only wildlife park. The island is located 10km off Cork City and attracts 440,000 visitors every year. Fota Wildlife Park, part of the Zoological Society of Ireland, is home to a wide array of animals such as tigers, giraffes, lemurs and spider monkeys. You can also visit the fascinating award winning Victorian Working Garden.
Ireland’s Ancient East is an experience that shouldn’t be missed, so book a room in one of our many hotel’s around the country and enjoy everything Ireland has to offer.