One of the most legendary Irish skirmishes in history was the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. A landmark battle fought between English King James II and the Dutch Prince William of Orange near Drogheda, it’s commemorated today with Living History displays at the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre. Discover the ways of Baroque horses and the training of a Cavalry Trooper, hear tales of the regiments who fought here and witness for yourself the skills of a well-trained Musketeer.
Find out more about Ireland's most famous battle at the Boyne Visitor Centre
Today the National 1798 Rebellion Centre commemorates the events of that year; visitors can experience the sights and sounds of battle, with pike-charging rebels capturing Enniscorthy Town and the cannon-firing, musket-wielding Redcoats assaulting Vinegar Hill.
Discover the knights and rebels
of Wexford at Vinegar Hill.
A battle on a shorter, smaller scale was fought in 1236 by Rohesia De Verdon with her ill-fated husband at the 13th century Castle Roche near Dundalk in Louth. In order to see her ambitious castle built, Rohesia promised a local architect her hand in marriage in return for taking on the project.
Local legend has it that when the Norman castle was complete, Rohesia invited her new husband to join her in the bridal suite to enjoy the stunning views of surrounding county. Eager to keep Castle Roche’s secrets to herself, she pushed him from the window, causing him to plummet to his death; the window was known thereafter as the Murder Window.
Local tradition has it that the castle was besieged and blown up by the Cromwellian generals Hewson and Reynolds in 1651; while there are no contemporary records of these events, it probably best explains the ruinous state of the castle. Today the Rock of Dunamase commands stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the Slieve Bloom mountains.
One county over and only an hour away by car, the Hill of Uisneach
is Ireland’s mythological centre and ancient ceremonial site, wreathed in sacred mysteries. Located in Westmeath, it comprises a series of Neolithic monuments and earthworks. Historically, at Bealtaine (May), a fire was lit on Uisneach to celebrate the coming of summer; the lighting of the fire was the signal for igniting a series of flames on hills across the island.
According to legends, Ériu, a goddess sometimes seen as the personification of Ireland, met an invading force of Gaels at Uisneach where, after some conversation and drama, the poet Amergin promises to give the country her name. Feel the pagan atmosphere on the Hill of Uisneach as you watch the fires dance each May, heralding summer time.
It was here that lightning struck, men were massacred and St Patrick converted the King of Munster to Christianity – accidentally stabbing him with a crozier in the process.
Nothing can quite beat the sight of the Rock, looming up out of the Tipperary landscape like a fairytale castle. Walk uphill, step inside and you’re into another world, with impressive views across the Golden Vale.