From archaeological gems to stunning strolls - exploring Ireland's beauty (PHOTOS)

Lough Gur, County Limerick. Some off the beaten track discoveries for intrepid explorers of Ireland’s beauty and history.

Like other monasteries across Britain and Ireland, Kilcooley was suppressed in 1540 by Henry the Eighth.  Although there was an ecclesiastical presence on the site in subsequent centuries, the glory days of the abbey had come to an end. 

After the Cromwellian conquest of the 1650s, the land around Kilcooley eventually came into the possession of the Barker family. In the 1770s, the fourth William Barker built the magnificent Palladian house and was responsible for much of the beautiful landscaping we see today around Kilcooley Estate.  He also brought Palatine settlers to the area from Limerick. These Protestant families had originated in Germany.  A nearby area on the hillside to the south is still known as Palatine Street.  

Today, Kilcooley exudes an aura of tranquillity and mystery that will entice any visitor to stay and explore for an hour or more.

The story of Kilcooley Abbey features in our newest audioguide The Derrynaflan Trail – available as a free MP3 download or smartphone app (Apple and Android) from our website

The guide leads you around the ancient monasteries and abbeys of the beautiful Slieve Ardagh region in County Tipperary, with tales of saints and sinners in medieval Ireland and an account of when the tables were turned on a band of feared Viking raiders.

* Neil Jackman is the owner of, a new Irish company passionate about making the incredible story of Irish history and heritage accessible to all by offering downloadable MP3 audio guides and apps. He also authors the blog highlighting great historical sites to visit around Ireland.