Ireland’s Ancient East, Fáilte Ireland’s latest tourism initiative, plans to build on the wealth of historical and cultural assets in the east and south of Ireland.

Stretching from Newgrange and the Boyne Valley in the northeast and ranging through the midlands all the way down via Kilkenny’s Medieval mile to Waterford’s Viking Quarter and Cork’s many cultural attractions, the new pathway to history is intended to match and complement the Wild Atlantic Way in terms of scale and ambition.

Crucially, Ireland’s Ancient East is geared to maximize the history and heritage in the region and bring it to greater international attention. To do this, the new initiative will offer visitors a personal experience of 5,000 years of history through a relaxing journey of discovery through the landscape that attracted warring settlers for millennia, illuminated by stories from the best storytellers in the world – the local people.

The videos invite tourists to “see, hear, touch and feel the imprints of the millennia of settlers in this land. Ancient Man, Early Christians, Medieval Lords, Colonial Settlers and their descendants have all been seduced by these most lush, green and fertile lands…the Stone Age art, the monasteries, the castles and fortresses. Drive leafy roads, explore meandering rivers or the mountains that once protected the original inhabitants.”

Ireland’s Ancient East will be crafted along four distinct thematic pillars:

Ancient Ireland

The Dawn of Civilization, including the prehistoric attractions:

Newgrange, in the Boyne Valley

Brownshill Dolmen, Carlow

Early Christian Ireland



Mellifont Abbey

Jerpoint Abbey

St. Canice’s Cathedral

Holycross Abbey

Medieval Ireland

Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile

The Viking Quarter, Waterford

Hook Head Lighthouse

Trim Castle

The Rock of Cashel

Anglo Ireland

This will include Ireland’s great houses and gardens such as…

Powerscourt, Wicklow

Russborough House, Wicklow

And sights such as:

Dunbrody Famine Ship, Wexford

Wicklow Gaol

The national tourism development board believes that this will be as successful as their initiative, the Wild Atlantic Way. Fáilte Ireland’s research has indicated that tourists would be more likely to come to Ireland to explore new landscapes, history, and culture or simply to take time out from their busy lives and careers to connect with local heritage and nature and their own place within. They believe that an initiative themed along these lines has the potential to deliver an extra 600,000 overseas visitors (growth of more than 20%) to the region and increase visitor revenue by almost 25% to $1 billion (€950m) in total by 2020.

Officially launching Ireland’s Ancient East, the Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe said, “Recent growth in visitor numbers has confirmed Ireland is a popular destination. However, the market research tells us that there is potentially a lot more…Indeed, when I recently launched our new national tourism policy, ‘People Places and Policy,’ I emphasized that we would need to continue developing projects that were both big enough and attractive to help us cut through to compete in international markets.”

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring said, “I believe that it will prove to be as significant a game-changer for the east and south of Ireland as the Wild Atlantic Way has been for the west.”

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