Attractions on Dublins Doorstep Ireland
But there’s more to a visit than elegant architecture and a history lesson – a 500-acre forest park, children’s play area, orienteering courses and picnic spots for starters
No Irish bog is bigger, or more important, than the Bog of Allen.
This sprawling complex of raised bog is the defining feature of the Irish midlands, taking no fewer than six counties into its soggy embrace. It’s also one of the few places left in Ireland where you might hear the call of the curlew.
Castletown House is nothing if not a survivor.
Ireland’s finest Palladian-style mansion got its first lucky break in the 1920′s, when it escaped destruction during the War of Independence because, the story goes, it has been built with Irish money. Its owner was William Connolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons.
Glendalough is one of Ireland’s most important visitor attractions. It is estimated that about 1.5 million people visit the valley every year. It is the most celebrated of the valleys in the Wicklow Mountains – a combination of outstanding natural beauty and a very important early ecclesiastical settlement.
The settlement at Glendalough was founded in the 6th century by Saint Kevin. The name Glendalough comes from the Irish and means “the valley of the two lakes”.
Kildare is Ireland’s Thoroughbred County, and the Irish National Stud lies right at its beating heart. Formed in 1945 to promote the Irish bloodstock industry, this medley of stables, paddocks, gardens, artefacts and more has grown into a full-blown family attraction.
Just a quick dip off the M7 outside Kildare town, the Stud has something for all ages. There are guided tours of the stud farm, lush fields in which you’ll spot mares (and in season, bandy-legged foals), and the Irish Horse Museum…
It’s not every heritage centre that offers a 7th century monk as a guide. But when that heritage centre is in Kildare, however – a county rich in Early Christian heritage – it makes absolute sense.
This particular monk (his name is Cogitosus) is in fact a lively digital creation designed to immerse viewers in the long history of Kildare county and town. He’s part of a clever multi-media exhibition transporting us back 1,700 years to when St. Brigid founded a monastery here.
Do Killruddery House and Gardens look familiar? If so, don’t worry. Your memory isn’t playing tricks. You may indeed have seen them before – on the silver screen, as a backdrop to movies like Becoming Jane and The Count of Monte Cristo, or epic TV series like Camelot.
The house dates from the 17th Century and was remodelled in the 1820’s and is one of the finest Elizabethan Revival mansions in Ireland.
Imagine a rich green oasis surrounded by Irelands largest peatland – the Bog of Allen.
The multi-award winning Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park spans 60 breathtaking acres here. Here you can explore Irish heritage, culture and environment! With a state of the art indoor forest themed play center, woodland trails, crazy golf, pet farm and train trips, Lullymore is also great for families.
Less than an hour from Dublin, the gardens sprawl over a cool 22 acres along the banks of the River Vartry in Ashford. They’ve been cleverly designed to look like they’ve always been there – naturally-occurring floral woodlands in the undulating Wicklow landscape.
It’s not just the courses at Maynooth College that are bursting with facts and figures: it’s the university itself. Did you know that St. Patrick’s was once the world’s largest seminary? Or that its Chapel and main seminary building were designed by one of the most distinguished architect of the 19th Century A.W Pugin?
The ruined 13th century Geraldine Castle lies just outside the college grounds once home to the powerful Fitzgerald family.
The Curragh Plains aren’t exactly where you’d expect to find a hot pink dress worn by Marilyn Monroe. Nor Lady Diana’s wedding veils. Nor the disco ball from Saturday Night Fever.
But here they are, at the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons.
‘The scarf that Your Majesty wears will be sufficient reward for me’.
The Queen placed the scarf over his shoulder, with something extra on the side: Powerscourt Estate. Wingfield’s descendents would remain there for over 350 years.
Designed by famed architect Richard Cassels, its last owners were the debonair Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, who welcomed Mick Jagger, Jacqui Kennedy and Fred Astaire – amongst many other celebrity guests – to a house some consider the most beautiful in Ireland.
St Brigid established a monastery for men and women in Kildare around 480AD. Tradition states that she built her church under an oak tree from which the town and county got its name. Cill Dara (Kildare) Church of the Oak. The abbey thrived, of course, and such was Brigid’s fame that soon after her death in 523AD, a shrine was erected in her honour in a new and larger building.
Built in 1704 and operational until 1924, this impassive stone pile is famous today as the most haunted place in Ireland (some prisoners never really left, they say).
It’s not hard to imagine just how gruesome it was. The tours bring to life just what it was like for convicts suffering huge atrocities…beginning with the horrific gaol conditions before reforms were put in place, important episodes in Irish History are featured.