Read More

Holy Island, County Clare

In the middle of Lough Derg is a solitary, uninhabited, 49 acre island whose atmosphere takes visitors back to the golden age of Irish Christianity. St Caimin founded a monastery here in the 7h century. It grew to be a large establishment, he well-preserved remains of which include five churches, a cemetery and a 79ft […]

Read More

Old Leighlin, County Carlow

The stubby, crenelated tower of the 13th century St Lazerian Protestant Cathedral stands at Old Leighlin. And nearby is the site of a 7th century monastery and Lazerian’s Well – a place of pilgrimage that after 13 centuries still attracts offerings of medals, crucifixes and rosary beads. The monastery played a major role in the […]

Read More

Fort Dunree, County Donegal

The impressive fortifications that crown Dunree Head are a reminder of the strategic importance of Lough Swilly. In 1800, when Ireland was faced with the Napoleonic threat, heavy guns where mounted on the bluff of rock that commands the entrance to the lough. Martello towers were added to the fortifications in the next decade. At […]

Read More

Dunseverick Castle, County Antrim

This was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Dal Riada, and is thought to have been one of the three great ‘duns’, or royal forts, visited by St Patrick in the 5th century. It lay at the end of an ancient route from Dundalk in County Louth, and there are extensive Celtic circular earth […]

Read More

Westport, County Mayo

Westport was laid out as an adjunct to the Marquess of Sligo’s Westport House in the late 18th century, and its legacy of town planning can be seen in the comfortably spacious streets. The town focuses on the canalised River Carrowbeg, which tumbles gently over low steps through the tree-lined avenue called The Mall. A […]

Read More

Jerpoint Abbey, County Kilkenny

The dark, biscuit-coloured tower of Jerpoint Abbey, with its battlements, rears above a bend on the road South from Thomastown. The Abbey is one of the most awesome religious remains in Ireland, yet, because many of its domestic arrangements are still recognisable, it also gives an intimate picture of monastic life. The present Cistercian structure […]

Read More

Kilcolman Castle, County Cork

A single small tower is all that remains of the castle where, during the late 16th century, the poet Edmund Spenser lived. In 1580 he had gone to Ireland as secretary to the Lord Deputy, who was in charge of crushing the rebellious Irish population. As a reward for his part in subjugating the province […]

Read More

Doe Castle, County Donegal

Once a freebooters’ stronghold, on a tongue of land that projects into Sheep Haven, Doe Castle dates from the early 15th century. Its name is an anglicised version of the Irish word ‘tuath’, meaning district or territory. In the 1440s it fell into the hands of the McSweeney (or MacSuibhne) clan, renowned for their constant […]

Read More

Proleek Dolmen, County Louth

Standing like a giant mushroom on three uprights is a 5000 year old tomb with a huge capstone, known as ‘The Giant’s Load’. Local legend claims that the capstone, which weighs some 46 tons, was placed there by a giant. In fact it was probably hauled into position up an earth ramp that was then […]

Read More

Castleisland, County Kerry

Now a thriving market town this was once the formidable power base of the Earls of Desmond. Their Kerry headquarters, the supposedly impregnable ‘Castell of the Island’, is today and ivy-covered stump, seen on the right as the town is entered from Killarney. Castleisland is now noted for its distinctive red marble quarried here and […]