Hacketstown, County Carlow

Rebels on their way back from the Battle of Carlow were ambushed in Hacketstown, and the bloody lighting between rebels and yeomanry continued until 250 rebels lay dead. Today, Hacketstown is a more peaceful place as a centre for walking in the Wicklow Mountains. The 97511 summit of Eagle Hill, a mile south of the town, gives a view that takes in most of County Carlow.

To the south is Clonmore, site of the 13th-century de lacy castle, now a picturesque ruin. lvy is rampant over its 7ft thick walls and cattle graze placidly in the bailey where chain-mailed Norman knights once caroused and quarrelled. The castle changed hands several times before it finally fell to Cromwell in 1650. The north-east tower, known as the Six Windows, is well preserved.

Near the castle, the road cuts through a monastery that was founded in the 6th century by St Mogue. The overgrown churchyard contains a large number of early Christian cross-decorated stones. Their number is an indication of the region`s importance in the early days of Christianity.

Hacketstown is a hidden gem that is worth a stop on your tours of Ireland.