Ireland’s Ancient East is a natural marvel of unspoiled shores and fine sands that have inspired travellers, monks and visionaries for centuries. With a story to tell at every point, you can start at the Titanic Experience in Cobh and take a 252 mile road trip along any section of the mile experience. Discover Spike Island with its star-shaped 200-year-old fort, the picturesque village of Ballycotton, Viking cities and enchanting holiday memories.
From dazzling light displays to amazing architecture, it is always worth going off the beaten track in Ireland and simply exploring. From impossibly beautiful little harbours to vast, undiscovered peninsulas, iconic castle ruins to ancient bog bodies, there’s even what locals call a magic road. A particularly enchanting experience is seeing the Northern Lights at Inishowen. Bring along a flask of hot chocolate, snuggle under a blanket and watch this phenomenon at Grianán of Aileach, a huge 2,000-year-old ring fort sitting 250 metres/820ft above sea level.
Lakes and mountains are some of the landscape impressions that may come to mind when thinking about Ireland, but the Lakelands really are something to behold. Connecting north to south, county to county and mystical past to modern present, the waterways have a life of their own. In addition, there are sites to explore as you tour them – an 800-year-old castle, mysterious pagan idols, a Global Geopark and Europe’s oldest pub, no wonder this is the place that inspired Nobel prize-winner WB Yeats to preserve in words the timeless calm of “lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore”.
Follow the flow of Ireland’s folklore in Shannon. Explore the stormy past and enduring splendour of Ireland’s castles, before soaking up tales of the warring lords, cultured ladies and besieged revolutionaries who have left their mark on Ireland’s landscapes. For that extra touch of magic gaze beyond Lough Gur’s still waters to Knockadoon Hill, at the imposing hillforts and megalithic tombs around the lake, and discover the horseshoe-shaped lake, hidden away amid hills and green scenes which lead locals to tell you it is home to the king of the fairies.
With its castles that look like they’ve dropped out of a movie and walking trails that twist and turn like the words of a poet, it is no wonder that Ireland is a rich source of myth and legend. See the ancient bog road built in 148BC or The hill of the witch at Loughcrew where local folklore tells the story of a magical woman, Garavogue – some say a witch, some say a goddess. You can even visit Cavan Burren Park, the lands where it is believed romancing giants once roamed.
You could be in with a chance to win a spa break in Ireland this month at The Heritage Killenard. The prize consists of two nights in Deluxe Accommodation with breakfast, dinner and a 60 minute spa treatment of your choice.