Most tourists to Ireland tend to hit Dublin and then head to the rocky cliffs of Galway on the west coast, but we’ll give you plenty of reasons why you should linger on the island’s other end.
It’s the southeastern coastline of Ireland that has many unexpected treasures to mine. From Wicklow to Wexford, Kilkenny to Kildare, this region of Ireland is loaded with charm. Here’s our look at some of the best attractions to see in the less-traveled southeast counties.
Trinity College: www.tcd.ie
St. Patrick’s Cathedral: www.stpatrickscathedral.ie
Dublin Writer’s Museum: www.writersmuseum.com
Shelbourne Hotel: www.marriott.co.uk
Dublin is and always should be your first stop on this tour of Southeast Ireland. Only about 71 square miles total, the downtown area is relatively small and easy to explore on foot or by hoping on the numerous buses that make up the transit system. Any tourist worth his salt will head for Trinity College in order to see the Book of Kells, (an elaborately illustrated Latin text of the Four Gospels of the Christian bible, created around 800 A.D. by Irish monks) along with St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Dublin Writer’s Museum. The more discerning visitor after swinging through the shops on Grafton street, and those stops, would make their way to the Shelbourne Hotel on what is considered Ireland’s most famous park, St. Stephen’s Green. The Number 27 Bar and Horseshoe Bar at the Shelbourne are attractive hot spots for celebrity spotting and artisan cocktails – not to mention a rich history. But more importantly, don’t forget to stop into a pub for a pint of Guinness. It really does taste best when sipping it in its home country.
Waterford Crystal: www.waterfordvisitorcentre.com
The Cliff House Hotel: www.thecliffhousehotel.com
Check out Waterford Crystal’s revamped museum. Nearby, the Cliff House is an attraction in and of itself, with most of the hotel’s rooms only several feet from the crashing waves of the coastline. The Michelin-starred House restaurant provides one of the most interesting meals you’ll ever eat.
Powerscourt House and Gardens: www.powerscourt.ie
Just outside of Dublin, Wicklow is often referred to as The Garden of Ireland. The history buff will enjoy a visit to Glendalough, a monastic settlement founded in the sixth century — but the lover of luxury will appreciate the sprawling estate of Powerscourt, with manicured gardens borrowing from Japanese and French designs.
Dunbrody Famine Ship: www.dunbrody.com
Dunbrody House: www.dunbrodyhouse.com
One of the greatest points of interest here is the Dunbrody Famine Ship, restored to the conditions of the ship when it carried families escaping the potato famine from 1845 to 1851. Next, stay at the Dunbrody Country House Hotel. Attached to 1830s Georgian estate is the Dunbrody Cookery School, which hosts cooking demos and classes.
Start making your way back up to Dublin by going northeast to Kilkenny — which, like Waterford, is one of the classic stops on a southeast tour of Ireland. The enormous 900-year-old Kilkenny Castle has rooms and rooms loaded with historical furniture and tapestries along with a charming Victorian tea room. But if the castle’s not your thing, there’s also the charming Kilkenny City itself, which offers tons of great shops, friendly locals and little avenues to stroll down.
Barberstown Castle: www.barberstowncastle.ie
Well, you’ve done a lot of walking and now those dogs are tired. The easiest way to get your fix for royal relaxation is to spend an evening at a castle such as Barberstown, in County Kildare. While it was owned by Eric Clapton in the 1970s, the building itself dates back to the 13th century. The dining and wine selection at the castle’s restaurant can’t be beat for a taste of regally appointed luxury.