Places to visit: Further Afield A to Z

Larchill Arcadian Garden

Larchill Arcadian Garden

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel. 

Larchill Arcadian Garden is an ornamental Farm (Ferme Ornée) created between 1740 and 1780. It is the only surviving, near complete garden of its type in Europe. It was designed as a pastoral paradise, reflecting man’s harmony with nature. It is a working farm, with decorative buildings, a walled garden, tree-lined avenues, 65 acres of landscaped parkland filled with follies, grottoes, statuary, and an 8-acre lake. Larchill has gained national and international awards following extensive restoration work.

The opening hours are limited (May/June Mon-Fri 10.00 am-2.00 pm; open some May/June weekends; some August dates) – check the Larchill website.

Kilcock, Co. Kildare.

Tel: 01 628 7354.

Adults €8; concessions.
House €9 by appointment only.

For more on gardens in the Dublin area, pay a visit to

Maynooth Castle

Maynooth Castle

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel. 

Maynooth Castle is a great stone castle founded in the early 13th Century. It was the principal residence of the Kildare branch of the FitzGeralds who at the time extended their land holdings and influence, emerging as one of the most powerful families in Ireland. Maynooth Castle was one of the country’s largest and richest houses.

Garret Mór governed Ireland in the name of the King of England from 1487 – 1513 and under his son, Garret Og the 9th Earl, the Castle became the centre of political power and culture. The original Keep, constructed around 1203, was one of the largest of its kind in Ireland. The castle was remodelled in the 17th Century when the main focus shifted from the original Keep to the buildings in the east of the grounds.

Maynooth Castle was vested in the State in 1991 and a programme of restoration commenced in February 2000. There is an exhibition in the Keep on the history of the castle and the family. Access to the keep is by guided tour only.

Noted for its friendly staff, there are unfortunately no restaurant facilities on site. However, many fine coffee shops are available close by in Maynooth Village, a mere five minutes’ walk from the Castle.

Open every day May 12-Sept 28 from 10.00 am-5.45 pm.

Maynooth Village, Maynooth, Co. Kildare.

Tel: 01-628 6744

Admission free

Mellifont Abbey

Mellifont Abbey

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel. 

Mellifont Abbey was the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland (founded in 1142 by St Malachy of Armagh). The abbey’s most unusual feature is the octagonal Lavabo (c. 1200). The Visitor Centre houses an interesting exhibition on the work of masons in the Middle Ages with fine examples of their craft on display. Access to the site is by a stone stairway.

Guided tours available on request (June/July/August).

Open May 26-September 4, daily 10.00 am-5.00 pm.

Tullyallen, Drogheda, Co. Louth.

Tel: Summer 041 982 6459; otherwise 041 988 0300

Adults €5; concessions. Free admission on the first Wednesday of each month.



Monasterboice is an interesting monastic site near Drogheda, Co. Louth. The impressive ruins include a large cemetery, two churches, one of the tallest round towers in Ireland and two of the best high crosses. The crosses are superb examples of Celtic art which brought the Bible to life for illiterate people. Muiredach’s Cross dates from 900-923 AD and is regarded as the finest high cross in Ireland. The West Cross at 6.5m high is the tallest high cross in the country. There is also a simpler North Cross. The Round tower is over 30m (110 feet) tall, divided into four stories inside.

The Tower is closed to the public.
The site is open from sunrise to sunset. (this article contains very detailed information about the legendary Muiredach’s High Cross )

Monasterboice, Co. Louth.

Free admission.

Mount Usher Gardens

Mount Usher Gardens

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel. 

Mount Usher Gardens is a highly regarded Irish garden, laid out across 22 acres along the banks of the River Vartry. It is a fine example of a Robinsonian-style garden, with an informal natural design. There are over 5000 species of plant, many of them rare and exotic.

Situated in the village of Ashford, 35 minutes from Dublin on the N11

Gardens open daily from March 1st – 10.00 am to 5.30 pm (last entry at 4.30 pm)

Avoca Café and Shopping Courtyard on site  (Tel:  0404 40116)

Dublin Garden Group

Ashford, Co. Wicklow

Tel: 0404 49672

Adults €9; concessions

National Sealife Centre

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel. 

The National Sealife Centre  is an indoors aquatic Zoo with 30+ displays. It contains sea creatures from the world’s oceans: there are over 70 different species on view, including an impressive tropical shark lagoon. Check the Centre’s website for feeding times/talks [piranha, carp, tropical sharks, octopus, seahorses, sting ray]. Kids rate this a 5-star experience.

Open 7 days a week (except Christmas Day and St Stephens Day)
Winter hours: Open Monday to Friday 11.00 am to 4.00 pm (last admissions 3.00 pm )
Open Saturday/Sunday 10.00 am to 6.00 pm (last admissions 5.00 pm)
Summer hours: Open 7 days, 10.00 am to 6.00 pm (last admissions 5.00 pm)
Open Christmas Eve: 11.00 am-4.00 pm
Open New Year’s Day: 12.00 pm-6.00 pm
Closed Dec 25-26.

Seafront, Bray, Co. Wicklow.

Tel: 01 2866939.

Admission €11.50 per adult (if booked online; otherwise, the price at the door is €13.50); concessions

Newbridge Style Icons

Newbridge Museum of Style Icons

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel. 

The Newbridge Museum of Style Icons is an attraction forming part of the Newbridge Silverware Visitor Centre. The museum is a permanent exhibition of garments and memorabilia from the collections of world stars (e.g. Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson).

The museum houses one of the greatest private collections of Audrey Hepburn couture and paper memorabilia in the world. Renowned for her elegant style both on and off screen, the ‘Audrey’ exhibition features clothing both from Audrey’s films and her personal wardrobe. The collection includes items from renowned designers Hubert de Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent as well as an extensive paper collection, carefully conserved and presented. Highlights include letters from Audrey to her father who lived in Dublin from the 1960’s until his death in 1980.

There are a craft workshop, extensive showrooms and a restaurant on site.

Open Mon-Sat 9.00 am–4.30 pm;
Sun/Public Holidays: 10.00 am–4.30 pm.

Restaurant closes at 5.00 pm

Limited places available on guided tours: 10:30 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

Tel: 045 431301.

Admission free.


Newgrange Neolithic Monument

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel. 

Newgrange Neolithic Monument was built around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. The Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre interprets the Neolithic monuments of Newgrange, Knowth & Dowth. There is a full scale replica of the chamber at Newgrange, and a model of one of the smaller tombs at Knowth.

The Newgrange site consists of a large circular mound with a stone passageway and interior chambers. The mound has a retaining wall at the front and is ringed by engraved kerbstones. There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it is thought to have had religious significance – it is aligned with the rising sun and its light floods the chamber on the winter solstice. It is the most famous monument within the Brú na Bóinne complex, alongside the similar passage tomb mounds of Knowth and Dowth, and as such is a part of the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Once a year, at the winter solstice, the rising sun shines directly along the long passage, illuminating the inner chamber and revealing the carvings inside, notably the triple spiral on the front wall of the chamber. This illumination lasts for about 17 minutes. Professor M. J. O’Kelly was the first person in modern times to observe this event on 21 December 1967. The sunlight enters the passage through a specially contrived opening, known as a roofbox, directly above the main entrance. Although solar alignments are not uncommon among passage graves, Newgrange is one of few to contain the additional roofbox feature.

Today the first light enters about four minutes after sunrise, but calculations show that 5,000 years ago first light would have entered exactly at sunrise. The solar alignment at Newgrange is very precise compared to similar phenomena at other passage graves. Current-day visitors to Newgrange are treated to an impressive re-enactment of this event through the use of electric lights situated within the tomb.

Many thanks to Wikipedia for the above information –

This is a busy site, with delays likely during summer months, so arrive early. Tickets are sold on a first come first served basis, and until March 1st 2020 cannot be reserved in advance. From March 1st, full online booking is available.

At present only Newgrange is open. Knowth is closed for the winter until March 1st 2020.  From that date, the following tour options will be available –
1. Brú na Bóinne Tour – Outside Only: This is a visit to the Knowth and Newgrange exteriors only.
2. Brú na Bóinne Plus Newgrange Chamber Tour: This is a visit to Newgrange and Knowth which includes access to the chamber at Newgrange.

Opening Hours
January- open 9.00 am; last shuttle to monument 3.15 pm; last admission to Visitor Centre 4.15 pm
February – open 9.30 am; last shuttle to monument 3.45 pm; last admission to Visitor Centre 4.45 pm
March & April – open 9.30 am; last shuttle to monument 3.00 pm; last admission to Visitor Centre 4.45 pm
May, June, July & August – open 9.00 am; last shuttle to monument 4.30 pm; last admission to Visitor Centre 6.15 pm
September – open 9.00 am; last shuttle to monument 3.30 pm; last admission to Visitor Centre 5.15 pm
October – open 9.30 am; last shuttle to monument 3.00 pm; last admission to Visitor Centre 4.45 pm
November & December – open 9.00 am; last shuttle to monument 2.30 pm; last admission to Visitor Centre 4.15 pm
Closed 24 – 27 December inclusive

All admissions are via the Visitor Centre. Visitors are brought to the monuments by shuttle bus.

Donore, Co. Meath.

Tel: 041 988 0300.

Visitor Centre only – Adults €4; concessions
Visitor Centre & Newgrange visit – Adults €7; concessions
Visitor Centre & Knowth visit – Adults €6; concessions
Visitor Centre & visits to both Newgrange & Knowth – Adults €13; concessions