Illustrated Guide to Ireland's Eastern Legends

A picture paints a thousand words, and these colourful illustrations by Irish artist Steve McCarthy bring some of the most fascinating tales of Ireland's Ancient East to life in vivid colour.
From hurling to Vikings, giant statues to Cromwell, explore the deeper meanings behind some of the phrases and sayings of our culture — given a humourous twist with this vivid series of images. There are so many stories waiting to be explored in Ireland's Ancient East this winter, and these anecdotes make the perfect starting point!

The Kilkenny 'Cats'

Do you know where the Kilkenny Hurling Team's nickname, the 'Cats', comes from? It refers to the incredible fighting spirit of the team, originating in a story about two stubborn cats — they fight to the death, eating each other up until only their tails were left! Quite the origins story for a team that reguarly triumph in the legendary Irish sport of hurling. Experience more of Kilkenny’s great stories to help you plan your adventure in Ireland’s Ancient East.

By hook or by crook in Wexford

Did you know that the phrase 'by hook or by crook’ originated in Wexford? In the 17th century, invader Oliver Cromwell vowed that his armies would attack Waterford by the town of ‘Hook’ (on the Wexford side) or from ‘Crooke‘ (on the Waterford side). Let your imagination soar back to the days of Cromwell at Hook Lighthouse, or experience Wexford’s range of great stories this weekend in Ireland’s Ancient East.

Illustration of two soldiers grappling over hooked sticks

Viking legends of Waterford

Though commonly used today, the phrase ‘to pay through the nose’ has a surprisingly dark history, originating in Viking Waterford! Irish locals used to pay Vikings ‘nose money’ — in other words, protection money designed to ensure the locals did not part company with their noses. Experience Waterford’s great stories this weekend in Ireland’s Ancient East.

The Metal Man of Tramore

Towering majestically over the coastal town of Tramore, the giant Metal Man has presided on the eastern shoreline since 1823, protecting ships in stormy weather. According to local legends, he can be heard whispering ‘keep out, keep out’ in the wind! Learn the story of the Metal Man, and experience Waterford’s great stories this weekend in Ireland’s Ancient East.

Illustration of the Metal Man statue with birds

So this year, discover the magic of the Kilkenny Cats, imagine the days of Cromwell at Hook Lighthouse in Wexford, keep a tight grip on your nose in Viking Waterford, or contemplate the mighty Metal Man of Tramore. Let these sparks of culture ignite your passion for Ireland's Ancient East, and inspire you as you embark on a tour of discovery around this enchanting region. 

Top Places to Visit

And that’s just a taste of the stories and experiences that await you as you plan your escape in Ireland’s Ancient East!

For more attractions and activities
check out the See & Do section