Brave a Battleground

Stand tall in one of Ireland's historic battlegrounds. Throughout the dramatic locations of Ireland’s Ancient East, the battlegrounds of bygone days lie silent—where once absolute power was won and lost, where short-lived alliances were formed and betrayals unearthed, heroes live on in legend.
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.
Left: Crowds watching a reenactment Middle: Firing canons at the Battle of the Boyne Right: Actors in Battle of the Boyne costume
A more recent episode in Irish history can be explored in Wexford, on the famous Vinegar Hill.
The Battle of Vinegar Hill was fought during the Irish Rebellion of 1798, when over 15,000 British soldiers launched an attack outside Enniscorthy in Wexford, the largest camp and headquarters of the Wexford United Irish rebels. It marked a turning point in the rebellion, as it was the last attempt by the rebels to hold and defend ground against the British forces.
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.
Left: Castle Roche Right: Rock of Dunamase
Over a century before Rohesia and her antics took place, the Rock of Dunamase was coming into its own as a marriage dowry. Now a spectacular castle ruin in the midst of the Laois countryside, it was once a dowry for Aoife, daughter of the King of Leinster, upon her marriage to the Norman conqueror Strongbow in 1170.
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.
Finally, the Rock of Cashel holds a battle tale or two in its ruins.

Said to have been dropped in the heart of the Golden Vale in Tipperary by the devil, the rock’s majesty comes to light within the Gothic cathedral, round tower and 15th century castle that still stand today.

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.

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