Ireland’s Ancient East Part 2 – Historic Heartlands from Kildare down to Tipperary



 Lough Boora Discovery Park Offaly



Ireland’s Ancient East is a tranquil and beautiful land of rolling green hills, charming towns and quiet waters, all framed by the River Shannon and the Irish Sea. When you dig a little deeper you will discover a region that ripples with over 5,000 years of history.  A trip around Ireland’s Ancient East brings history to life against a backdrop of unforgettable scenery. It’s time to peel back the past



There are three unique areas: the Land of 5,000 Dawnsthe Historic Heartlands and the Celtic Coast. We are going to break our suggestions on things to do, see, explore and experience into these areas.

The second part of our series covers the Historic Heartlands and includes the counties Offaly, LaoisKildare, Tipperary, Limerick, Carlow and Kilkenny

There are many places to pitch up for a few nights and explore this fantastic area of the country offering safe overnight places to pitch your tent, hook up your caravan or park your motorhome.  Click here for information on pitching up in Ireland’s Ancient East.  Here are some of the top attractions to visit in the Historic Heartlands in Ireland’s Ancient East.


Kildare is home to some of the finest historical sites in Ireland.  From wild boglands to colonial estates, horse racing empires to Antarctic explorers, prepare to be surprised. 


Irish Racehorse Experience at the National Stud Kildare

Irish National Stud & Garden is located in the heart of Ireland’s thoroughbred County Kildare and is one of Ireland’s true treasures. It is set within 850 acres of rolling hills.  Owned by the Irish people, it is one of the only thoroughbred breeding farms open to the public. A visit to the stud’s new interactive centre, The Irish Racehorse Experience, truly brings to life the worlds of these magnificent animals.  The Irish National Stud & Garden is also home to two remarkable gardens: the Japanese Gardens and St Fiachra’s Garden.



Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park Kildare

Explore Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park, set on 60 acres of breathtaking landscape in the heart of the Bog of Allen. Take a 9,000 year journey back through landmark periods of Irish history with exhibitions and multimedia displays, from the arrival of the early Mesolithic settlers and the dawning of Christianity to the 1798 Rebellion and the Great Famine.  Spend some time on the Biodiversity Boardwalk, see the glassy lakes and peatlands of birch, heathers and bog cotton. Discover the story of the raised bogs of the Irish midlands, 10,000 years in the making. Go on a guided tour of Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park and learn of the rich history behind the environmental site.  The indoor play centre and outdoor play area with crazy golf, a pet farm and a road train makes Lullymore the ideal destination for family fun.



‘The Faithful County’ – OFFALY rich history and idyllic scenery, explore the boglands, towering castles and serene waterways of County Offaly.  Chose a site in Ireland’s Ancient East to pitch up for a few days.



Birr Castle in Co. Offaly offers a fascinating mix of culture, heritage, beauty and science in a tranquil setting. See the stunning gardens with roses, wisteria, magnolias and towering box hedges. Take in spectacular views of the castle from the outdoor terraces. Find peaceful moments by the lake, waterfall and rivers dotted throughout the grounds.  Visit the Historic Science Centre and learn about the Great Telescope, built by the Third Earl of Rosse and still functioning today. When completed in 1845, the Birr Castle Great Telescope was the largest telescope on Earth, capable of seeing further into space than any telescope had done before. The I-LOFAR consortium have built a cutting-edge astrophysics observing facility in Birr Castle that connects to the International LOFAR Telescope and one of the most advanced astrophysics research projects in the World. The Castle tour includes a one hour guided tour of the reception rooms of Birr Castle with access to the Science Centre, the Great Telescope and the gardens.


Tullamore D.E.W Distillery Experience

The Tullamore D.E.W. Distillery Experience tells the tale of a legendary liquid with 192 years of history. The grain to glass distillery spans 58 acres where whiskey is milled, mashed, fermented, distilled, matured and bottled, all on one site. Eleven million litres of whiskey are produced here each year, making Tullamore D.E.W. and its distillery one of the finest examples of Ireland’s whiskey renaissance.  During the distillery experience, visitors will sip and savour an Irish coffee on arrival, walk the still house floor, feel the warm embrace of heat from the bubbling stills and taste the world’s second largest Irish whiskey brand’s award winning whiskeys.  At the end of the tour, visitors will get the chance to “Be the Blender” by blending and bottling their own unique whiskey to buy and take away.


LAOIS set amongst beautiful scenery and home to some of Ireland’s most impressive gardens, you will find so much to do and see in this great county.


Emo Court

Emo Court House is an Irish historic house near Emo Village in County Laois. A long and colourful history has seen the house adapted and renovated; today the popular attraction has been restored to its former glory as a large neo-classical mansion.  Visit Emo Court House to enjoy the beautiful gardens and parklands which were first laid out in the 18th century, containing formal lawns and a lake. Walks through the woodland are a popular way to explore the beautiful grounds.



The home of ‘the Cats’ Kilkenny – wander the cobbled streets of Kilkenny City, explore monastic ruins or walk on the top of trees in Kilkenny.  Pitch up in Kilkenny for a few nights and explore the area.


Kilkenny Castle


Kilkenny Castle is open all year round and is largely a Victorian remodelling of the thirteenth century defensive castle furnished with the family paintings and tapestries and objects d’art. Visitors can choose to explore the ancestral home of the Butler family with either a self guided visit or a guided tour. The visit of the Castle includes the dining room, Victorian nursery and the picture gallery with its hand painted hammer beam room.  In the grounds you will discover 50 acres of rolling parkland with mature trees, a formal terraced rose garden, woodlands and a man-made lake, which were added in the nineteenth century.


Castlecomer Discovery Park

Castlecomer Discovery Park and Visitor Centre consists of a wonderful 80 acre discovery park in the Castlecomer Demesne, which was once part of the estate farmyard, gardens, stable yard and leisure grounds of the Wandesforde family.  Castlecomer Visitor Centre houses the reception, and a Coal-Mining Exhibition. There are numerous activities and attractions including the tree top adventure walk, a 140 metre walk through the beautiful riverside trees 10 metres above ground level. The stables are home to a growing group of crafts people and artists.The first section of the yard has been fully restored and adapted to facilitate the resident artisans. There is a 6 kilometre themed woodland walks and a number of wooden sculptures. Reach new heights by challenging yourself on our great outdoor climbing wall with several different levels for all to enjoy. Experience our daring Leap of Faith – climb the 7 metre pole, balance on the platform and take a leap of faith aiming for the target before being assisted back to ground level!



Carlow – there is something to do for everyone in Carlow with towering mountain ranges and meandering rivers.



Huntington Castle & Gardens

Head to Huntington Castle and Gardens in Clongall, Co. Carlow and discover a treasure trove of historical architecture and objects. Meander down the serene Yew Tree Walk and admire the water features in Huntington’s delightful pleasure grounds.  The kids will love the woodland adventure playground, with swings, slides, balance beams and more to keep them entertained  Originally built as a defensive garrison, Huntington Castle was developed into a family estate by the Baron of Esmonde. Take a tour and view the old kitchens, drawing room and the refurbished conservatory, and hear the stories of the castle and its occupants brought to life. See the intriguing Fellowship of Isis Temple —in the 1970s, this spiritual organisation established the castle’s basement as a place of worship of the Egyptian Goddess.


Go with the Flow River Adventures

Go with the Flow River Adventures located in Borris Co. Carlow offer guided river treks, multi-day trips, canoe hire, courses and much more.  You can experience incredible trails, eco safaris and white-water adventures in Carlow and Kilkenny. Choose from traditional Canadian canoes, kayaks or new river surfers. Qualified guides with years of experience will help you all the way.  Go with the Flow know how to have fun on the river. Just call and arrange time and location, whether it be on the River Barrow or the River Nore, there is incredible fun to be had.Options include the discovery river adventure, guided river treks, canoe hire and multi-day trips. You are sure to have an excellent voyage of discovery and a renewed sense of what a beautiful countryside Ireland’s waterways provide.


The Treaty County – Limerick has a fascinating past, stunning countryside and is overflowing with culture.  East Limerick is located within Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and has a host of great places to visit and explore.  Stay a few nights in Limerick to enjoy this fantastic county.


Lough Gur Visitor Experience


A visit to Lough Gur Visitor Centre is a must and view the fascinating exhibitions at one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites. Make time for the audio visual show to learn about Lough Gur’s geology, botany, zoology and archaeology and immerse yourself in tales of local folklore and ancient Celtic festivals. Check out replicas of famous archaeological finds in this region including Stone Age pottery, the famous Bronze Age Lough Gur Shield. Learn about the activities of the first farmers in this rich archaeological area, including their dwellings, rituals, tools, implements and burial sites. Discover Lough Gur, the horseshoe lake at the bottom of Knockadoon Hill, see the 113 standing stones of the Grange Stone Circle and take a guided tour to discover the facts and magical myths of this scenic setting.


Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails

The Ballyhoura Mountain Bike trails are nestled into the beautiful Ballyhoura mountains straddling the counties of Cork and Limerick. The trails were designed by Daffyd Davis and runover 90km of the most wonderful undulating hills and forests that Ireland has to offer.


The trail system presents riders with a combination of narrow single track and boardwalk sections and also has sections of forest road climbs over short and long distances. The trails are laid out in 5 loops and each loop leads onto the next. The loops are waymarked in one direction – just pick the colour of the loop you want to ride and follow the arrows.


Tipperary is blessed with stunning scenery and iconic ancient sites to take your breath away and it’s not referred to as the Premier County for nothing!!  Chose one of the top quality caravan & camping sites in Tipperary for a short break to explore the county.


Rock of Cashel

The much-loved Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most treasured locations.  The 12th century round tower is the oldest surviving building on the Rock which also includes the ruins of a Romanesque chapel and High Cross. Also known as St. Patrick’s Rock, it is the 13th century Gothic Cathedral which captivates people the most and visitors can spend time exploring the ins and outs of its architecture. The cathedral is a large cruciform church without aisles and was built between 1230 and 1270. A 15th century castle and Hall of the Vicars are the entry points to this ecclesiastical enclosure and the site includes an audiovisual show and exhibitions that will bring the story to life for the kids


Cahir Castle

Cahir Castle is located on a rocky island on the River Suir in the centre of Cahir town, County Tipperary. It is one of Ireland’s largest and best preserved castles.  The castle has been the scene of sieges and bombardments for centuries. The powerful Anglo-Norman family, the Butlers, came into the possession of the castle in 1375. The castle was captured three times in its history: it fell to Devereux, Earl of Essex, in 1599 after it had been battered for three days with artillery; it surrendered without a fight to Inchiquin in 1647; and again to Cromwell in 1650. The castle retains its impressive keep, tower and much of its original defensive structure. Today, the castle also features an excellent audio-visual show which informs visitors about its eventful history. Don’t forget to take in a visit to the spectacular Swiss Cottage by taking the marked walk from the Castle.


Mitchelstown Caves

One of Europe’s major show caves, Mitchelstown Cave, is situated on the border of counties Tipperary and Cork. Tours by informative guides will take you through three massive caverns in which you are surrounded by indescribable dripstone formations, stalactites and stalagmites. Graceful calcite curtains hang from the sloping roofs, calcite crystals glisten like diamonds in the distance and one of Europe’s finest calcite columns, the huge Tower of Babel, stands tall.



These are just a few ideas for your trip to the Historic Heartlands of Ireland’s Ancient East. So whether you are planning a few days away or a longer break there is plenty to see and do as part of your caravan & camping holiday.  Click here for a list of top quality approved caravan & camping parks located within Ireland’s Ancient East

It is time to get planning and booking for your next trip away.  Camping Ireland has so much information to help you plan your caravan & camping trip away.  Our website is very user-friendly and has a number of great features which makes it very easy to navigate.  One of the new features is that you can now add filters to your selection.  This will allow you to get information on parks that are specific to your needs.

You can now filter for sites as follows:

Camping type – camping, glamping, mobile home hire, etc.

Holiday type – beach holiday, countryside, family-friendly, dog friendly, etc.

Facilities – beach nearby, playground, games room, shop, etc.


Region – Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, Dublin or Northern Ireland

Also, many sites are now offering online booking which will help you secure your pitch at the click of a button.

Whatever you want Camping Ireland has something to suit everyone.  Enjoy the independence and flexibility that camping in Ireland can offer in quality approved sites.  We look forward to welcoming you to Ireland’s outdoor living.