Ireland’s Ancient East runs from the Giant’s Causeway in Co. Antrim, to Newgrange in Co. Meath and onto the coves of Co. Cork.
The Ancient East trail endeavours to open the spirit of Ireland and give everyone a glimpse of its ancient ways, old stories and mythology to show people the real Ireland, its living culture, lush landscapes and hidden history
Myths, monastic ruins and medieval castles: the southeast corner of Ireland is packed with history and the easiest way to discover it all is on a self-drive tour with Irish Ferries. The area is accessed equally well through their two gateway ports of Dublin and Rosslare.
Irish Ferries has its own holidays team which can advise on, and book tailor-made touring holidays that include both the ferry and accommodation into one great-value package.
For example a seven-night break this summer, staying in welcoming four-star hotels , with ‘the full Irish’ breakfast each morning, and including return cruise ferry crossings for a car costs from £529 per person when two people share a double room and travel together.
Sail into Dublin on the Ulysses’ afternoon cruise and overnight just south of the city at the turreted Fitzpatrick Castle hotel on the hill above Killiney.
On day two drive through the scenic Wicklow Mountains to Glendalough. Here, in a beautiful valley and lakeside setting are the remains of a monastic city, founded in the 6th century by St Kevin. It’s a magical spot.
From here it’s a short drive to the Brook Lodge at Macredd in which boasts Ireland’s first certified organic restaurant. On day three discover medieval Kilkenny, which not only has an ancient castle, an abbey and a cathedral, but is home to Ireland’s oldest beer: Smithwicks.
Take a break from driving for a couple of nights at the contemporary and central Pembroke Hotel, just behind the castle. Head south to Waterford City and the Athenaeum House Hotel for a warm welcome and riverside location for two nights.
Waterford was founded by the Vikings and its treasures are on show at the Medieval Museum, while other ancient sites include the round Reginald’s Tower.
For the final night in Ireland, head to Wexford Town for a good nights’ sleep at the Tower Hotel, before catching the Isle of Inishmore’s morning sailing from Rosslare to Pembroke. 08717 300 400, www.irishferries.com/holidays