Places to visit: Further Afield A to Z

Dundalk Museum

County Museum Dundalk

The County Museum Dundalk is one of Ireland’s finest Local Authority Museums. It is located in a restored 18th Century distillery. Exhibits include the Mesolithic era onwards to the Middle Ages, Medieval times and the local industry all across three floors.

The Museum collection comprises over 70,000 objects ranging from the proverbial (Viking) needle to an anchor. Among the highlights are a magnificent three-wheeled, Heinkel motor car made in Dundalk in the late 1950s; the first Olympic Medal won by an Irishwoman (a Bronze won by Ardee’s Beatrice Hill-Lowe in archery in the 1908 Games in London); Oliver Cromwell’s shaving mirror; a leather jacket or jerkin worn by King William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne; items collected by Sir Francis Leopold McClintock, discoverer of the fate of Franklin and one of Ireland’s greatest explorers; and a multi-award winning exhibition marking the industrial and engineering history of county Louth.

Opening Hours:
Tues-Sat: 10am–5pm
Closed Sun, Mon & Bank Holidays.

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 042 939 2999
Jocelyn Street, Dundalk, Co. Louth
Free admission

Dunsany Castle

Dunsany Castle

Dunsany Castle is situated in the townland of Dunsany, between Trim and Dunshaughlin. The Castle was established as a towered fortification of the Norman Pale in the period 1180 – 1200; construction is believed to have begun in 1180/1181. The Castle was built for a key Norman warlord, Hugh de Lacy, whose chief seat was at Trim. Parts of the original building still stand – the huge foundations and the four main towers form a key part of the current structure. Much additional work has been performed over the years, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the current Castle is more than three times the size of the original.

The Plunkett connection began with the knight Sir Christopher Plunkett (Deputy Governor of Ireland in 1432), who had come into the lands in the area through marriage in the early 1400s. The Castle is the longest occupied home and one of the oldest continuously inhabited buildings in Ireland.

The Castle is entered through a large lobby with a finely worked ceiling, which opens into the central hallway, featuring the principal stairway and a vaulted ceiling. On the ground floor are a fine dining room, featuring portraits of past family members from over the centuries, and a substantial, well-proportioned billiards room while up the stairs are the library and drawing-room. The bright and airy drawing-room has Stapleton plasterwork from 1780.

The unique library, which may have been worked on by James Shiel, is one of the star features of Dunsany. Displaying a form of the “Gothic Revival” style, it has a wonderful “beehive” ceiling from the early 19th century and grained Gothic decoration. There is a fine collection of books from across the centuries, including material by the writer Lord Dunsany and the writing table at which he (and others, such as the poet Francis Ledwidge) worked. Other features include a winding secondary stairway (where a “priest’s hole” formerly existed) and an old vaulted hall, built from the original 12th century kitchen and now displaying part of the Dunsany Home Collection.

As with many land holdings, much of the estate of Dunsany was transferred to tenants under Ireland’s unique Land Acts. The Demesne of the residual Dunsany Estate features farmland, park and woodland, surrounded by a Famine wall (a project to provide work for the destitute during Ireland’s terrible potato famine) with three major entrances.

The current main gateway has the appearance of a Gothic ruin but is a later “sham”, concealing a residential gatehouse; it faces the ancient Dunsany Cross, a pilgrim cross on one of the long-distance walks for the devout. The Castle is fronted by a lawn. At the back of the demesne runs the River Skane, a tributary of the Boyne. Also within the grounds are enclosed yards (farm and stables), a fine walled garden, an ice-house and wells.

The fine Church of St. Nicholas (of Myra), locally known as “the Abbey”, and built on the site of an earlier building, was commenced in the 1440s and holds tombs of family members and local residents. It is a substantial building and the walls still stand solidly, although the roof is long gone. Within are the remnants of lofts and living spaces. There are also some of the best medieval carvings surviving in Ireland, notably on the baptismal font, and a fine carved 15th century tomb (with effigies of a knight and his lady, either the first or second Lord Dunsany and his wife).

The family, headed by the 20th Lord, Edward Plunkett, and his wife, Maria Alice de Marsillac Plunkett, still live at Dunsany. They retain a fine collection of heirlooms, including an enamelled silver mug presented by Elizabeth I and the watch and cross of St. Oliver Plunkett, and some beautiful works of art, notably paintings and porcelain, though for security reasons some are no longer held at the Castle.

The Lonely Planet Guide comments – “A guided tour takes almost two hours and offers a fascinating insight into the family history as well as that of the castle. It remains a family home, and maintenance and restoration are ongoing, so opening hours vary and different rooms are open to visitors at different times – call for details”.

The Castle is the ancestral home of the Lords of Dunsany, heads of the Plunkett family, since the 1400’s. The family still live in the Castle, which holds a private collection of paintings, ceramics and furniture. Dunsany Castle also has a fine demesne, featuring the Abbey (1440). The family has opened the Dunsany Home Collection Boutique in the Castle, which stocks an important collection of unique tableware, linen and other special housewares & gifts, as well as books by Lord Dunsany (1878-1957)

Opening Hours:
Website currently offline as they are updating content.
For castle tours 27th June – 25th August 10am – 2pm. Tours approx 1-1.5 hours.
Outside of these dates please make a booking by contacting the email address or calling. 

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 046 902 5169
Dunsany, Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath
Adults €25; concessions

Emerald Park

Emerald Park offers the visitor a theme park and a unique zoo. You can experience a range of rides, adventure activities, and observe critically endangered big cats, fascinating meerkats, primates, astonishing birds of prey and much more.

The Junior Zone attractions include: Steam Train Express, Honey Pot Bears, Pony Rail, Shot Tower, Vortex Tunnel, Fossett’s Circus Show, the World of Raptors, and Super Hero Climbing Wall.

The Lemur Woods section showcases a troop of ring-tailed lemurs in Ireland’s largest lemur walkthrough.

Flight School is a 13-metre-high airport themed roller-coaster suitable for all the family.

Viking Voyage – With 1.7 million litres of water, a Viking village and replica Viking ships, families can expect to feel the splash on this unmissable attraction.

For older children and adults, attractions of note include the Cú Chulainn Coaster (Ireland’s first rollercoaster and Europe’s largest wooden rollercoaster with an inversion), The Rotator, Power Surge, Endeavour, Air Race, Windstar, Dino Dash, and the Sky Walk.

A brand new Tír na nÓg area is due to open in 2024. It will be the first fully themed and immersive land at Emerald Park, and will include two new rollercoasters.

Opening Hours:
The park is open most weekends and Bank Holidays throughout the year, and on weekdays during summer/school holidays. Opening hours vary monthly, and some attractions are only open during the summer.
The park may be closed from December 24 until March.
Check here for the latest opening hours.

All entrants must purchase a ticket, even if they do not wish to access any of the rides or attractions. A Junior Zone ticket is the cheapest option available.

Reduced rate tickets are available for senior citizens, persons with special needs (and their registered carers), as well as pregnant guests. On arrival to admissions, guests may be asked to provide documentation to confirm that they can avail of a reduced rate ticket.

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 01 835 1999
Kilbrew, Ashbourne, Co.Meath
Junior Zone Only Ticket: €47 (€39 if booked online over 24hrs in advance)
All Access Ticket: €52 (€43 if booked online over 24hrs in advance)

Round tower at Glenalough


Glendalough is a scenic valley and lakeland, with picturesque walking trails and monastic ruins. The Visitor Centre has an exhibition and an audio-visual show, with occasional tours available.

Glendalough is an early Christian ecclesiastical settlement founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Set in a glaciated valley with two lakes, the monastic remains include a superb round tower, stone churches and decorated crosses.

In the latter part of the sixth century, St. Kevin crossed the mountains from Hollywood to Glendalough. Within 100 years, the area had developed from a remote hermitage into one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. The monastery continued to flourish after St. Kevin’s death in 617 A.D.

By the end of the eighth century, the monastery employed up to 1000 lay people to help grow crops and tend livestock. Monasteries were wealthy. In addition to stores of treasure, most monasteries maintained substantial stocks of food and were able to survive periodic famines. Such rich sites were often plundered. Glendalough’s remote location made it an easy target, and between 775 and 1095 it was plundered many times by both local tribes and Norse invaders. Usually the churches and houses were burned, but each time the monastery was rebuilt.

The eventual decline of Glendalough’s monastery was not due to invaders, but rather to a shift in political power. When Glendalough was annexed to the diocese of Dublin in 1152, its importance declined. Despite this, the place has retained a spiritual significance.

Today the ruins of the ancient monastic site are scattered throughout the valley. Many are almost 1000 years old. The main sites are located in the area known as the Monastic City, beside the Visitor Centre.  Further afield are the ruins of other churches, extending from St. Saviour’s Church in the far east of the valley, to Temple na Skellig beside the Upper Lake.

The Monastic City is the name given to the main monastic site at the eastern end of the valley, close to the Visitor Centre and the Glendalough Hotel. The following monuments can be seen in the Monastic City.

The Gateway stands at the entrance to the Monastic City, and is perhaps one of the most important monuments as it is now unique in Ireland. The building was originally two-storeyed, probably with a timber roof. Inside on the west wall, is a cross-inscribed stone. Visitors entering the Monastic City from the road still pass through this ancient entrance, walking on some of the original stone paving.

Perhaps the most noticeable monument, the Round Tower is about 30 metres high. The entrance is about 3.5 metres from the base. Originally there were six wooden floors with ladders. The roof had fallen in many years ago, but was rebuilt in 1876 using the original stone. Round towers were multi-functional. They served as landmarks for visitors, bell-towers, store-houses, and as places of refuge in times of attack.

The Cathedral is the largest of the churches, and was constructed in several phases. Of note, are an aumbry or wall cupboard under the southern window, and a piscina – a basin used for washing sacred vessels. Outside the Cathedral is St. Kevin’s Cross – a large early granite cross with an unpierced ring.

The Priest’s House is a small Romanesque building which was almost totally reconstructed using the original stones in 1779. The east end has a decorative arch. The original purpose of the building is unknown, but it may have been used to house the relics of St. Kevin. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was used as a place to inter priests.

St. Kevin’s Kitchen is a church notable for its steep roof formed of overlapping stone, supported internally by a semi-circular vault. The belfry has a stone cap and four windows facing north, south, east and west, and is reminiscent of a round tower.

Only the low walls of St. Kieran’s Church remain. It was uncovered in 1875, and probably commemorates the founder of Clonmacnoise, a monastic settlement that had associations with Glendalough during the 10th century.

St. Kevin’s Bed is a small cave in the cliff to the east of Temple ne Skellig. The entrance is about 8 metres above the lake. The site is not safely accessible, and has been the scene of many serious accidents. It may be viewed from the Miner’s Road, across the lake. The cave runs back two metres into the cliff and was reputedly a retreat for St. Kevin and later for St. Laurence O’Toole.

(Information supplied by

Opening Hours:
Visitor Centre open daily: 9.30am – 6pm
Last admission 45mins before closing
Closed 23 – 29 December

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 04 044 5352
Glendalough, Co. Wicklow
Adults €5; concessions. Free admission on the first Wednesday of every month

Greenan Maze

Situated in the beautiful countryside of the Wicklow hills, only one hour south of Dublin, enjoy about 3 hours or more wandering around the farm in a relaxed, peaceful and friendly atmosphere. With loads of attractions to check out, the day will be packed full of things to do and will keep all the family and kids fully occupied.

Explore fun mazes, museums of traditional farming life and farm animals, and wander along nature walks including ponds, wetlands and woodlands. Try to crack the clues on the nature treasure hunt with real treasure at the end if you solve the riddles.  Younger children can toddle along the fairy tree trail and adults enjoy the crafts and coffee shop, picnic areas and undercover outdoor seating. The friendly helpful staff love to help visitors find some peace on a beautiful 50-acre farm.

Opening Hours:
10am – 6pm, last admission 5pm.
Opening days vary by month, but generally open weekends only from April to June and during September. Open 7 days a week in July and August.
Closed from October to March.
There may be exceptions to the above opening hours, so it is best to check here.

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 0404 460 00 / 086 884 5624
Ballinanty, Greenan, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow
Admission €8.50; concessions

Hill of Tara

Hill of Tara

The Hill of Tara was the seat of the High Kings of Ireland. Tara was the ancient spiritual and political capital of Ireland for over 2,000 years. The five Ancient Roads of Ireland converged here. A famous Feis (festival) was held here every third year at which the laws of the land were discussed.  There is a great view from the hill.

Located 15 minutes from Navan off the N3.

Opening Hours:
There is year-round access to the Hill of Tara itself.
Guided tours available from the Visitor Centre, which opens from May to Sept: 10am – 6pm. Visitors can avail of a free 25min audio-visual show available in 6 languages.

Contact & Pricing:
Dunsany, Navan, Co. Meath
Tel: 046 902 5903 (off season phone 041 988 0300)
Free admission

Hunting Brook Gardens

Hunting Brook Gardens

Hunting Brook Gardens consists of 5 acres of botanical herbaceous gardens and 15 acres of woodland gardens and valley. Jimi Blake, its creator, collects plants from foreign expeditions and sources rare seeds globally. This is a dynamic, innovative garden, a fusion of tropical, prairie and woodland styles. There are expansive views over the Wicklow Mountains.

The famous BBC gardening expert, Monty Don, has this to say about Hunting Brook – “Hunting Brook is a garden that is endlessly beguiling and however many times you visit it, you always find something new.”

The gardens are located between Brittas and Blessington on the N81.

Opening Hours:
Open Thursday – Saturday 11am-4pm
The garden is open to the public with no booking necessary.
There may be restrictions or closures, so it is best phone in advance to double check.
Private guided tours available on request, minimum price of €180 for up to 12 people.

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 087 285 6601
Hunting Brook, Lamb Hill, Blessington, Co. Wicklow
Tickets for Garden; Adults €8
Tour €15 per person, minimum 12 people

Irish Historic Houses Association

The Irish Historic Houses Association is the umbrella organisation representing Ireland’s historic houses. These houses and their contents are part of the physical evidence that helps to define the cultural and historical relationship between Ireland and the rest of Europe.

The preservation of this part of Ireland’s cultural heritage is of national importance, something recognised by successive governments, which have enacted legislation to safeguard historic houses, their parks and contents, for current and future generations.

Heritage properties that remain in private hands have a unique value, especially those that have been owned by the same family for several generations. Typically, they contain artefacts and archives that greatly enhance the cultural and historical significance of each country house in its locality; indeed, many historic houses encapsulate the history of their surrounding regions. Below are listed historic houses which are members of theIrish Historic Houses Association within the counties of Dublin, Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow.


Lissen Hall

Lambay Castle


Burtown House



Leixlip Castle

Lodge Park

Moone Abbey


Barmeath Castle


Collon House

Killineer House

Rokeby Hall




Altidore Castle

Killruddery House

Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens

Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens

The Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens are adjoining attractions which pull in 150,000 visitors every year.

Racehorses are conceived, born and raised on Tully’s famous Stud Farm, long the source of thoroughbred champions. See six stallions, famed for race track feats.

The Japanese Gardens are the finest of their kind in Europe. Created 1906-1910 by Col. William H. Walker, the gardens symbolise the “Life of Man”, tracing the journey of a soul from oblivion to eternity.

Also visit St. Fiachra’s Garden, designed in 1999 by Martin Hallinan, and the Horse Museum (including a tribute to Arkle, the greatest steeplechaser ever).

Opening Hours:
7 days a week: 9am-6pm, last admission 5.00 pm

Guided tours of the stud are at 10.30 am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm. There are extra tours during the peak tourist season. There are extra tours during the peak tourist season.
Closed from late December to early February.

Japanese Gardens, Saint Fiachra’s Garden and Horse Museum are self-guided, with leaflets available.

Special events may also be scheduled, check the website for details.

Contact & Pricing:
Tel: 045 521 617
Brallistown Little, Tully, Co. Kildare
Adults €19; concessions

Castletown House

Kildare – Other Places of Interest

A brief list of links describing of places of interest for visitors in Kildare.

Athy Heritage Centre and Museum

Kildare Town Heritage Centre

Leixlip Castle

Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park

St Brigid’s Cathedral and Round Tower

Straffan Steam Museum