There’s no better place to start exploring the seafaring history of Ireland’s Ancient East than Cobh – last port of call for the doomed Titanic
. The pretty Cork town’s history is inextricably linked to the passenger liner that sank on 15 April 1912, after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage to New York. Titanic fanatic Michael Martin runs the Titanic Trail walking tour
and is full of haunting tales of bravery and tragedy.
At breath-taking Ardmore, believed to be the oldest Christian site in Ireland, the beautiful ruins of the cathedral sit alongside a 12th century round tower on the stunning Waterford cliffs. It’s thought that the 30 metre round tower was designed as a beacon to guide pilgrims to the site, which was heavily forested at the time. Nearby St Declan’s Well was a place of reflection; each year on Pattern Day – 24 July – pilgrims drink water from the stone well and pray with the appropriately named local nun Sister Declan. The Well and the church ruins also mark the start of a spectacular cliff walk with views over the Irish Sea. Discover the treasures of Sacred Ireland.
New Ross in County Wexford was a gateway for thousands of Irish people who left in search of a better life. The town is home to a replica of the Dunbrody
, a ship launched from Canada the same year that famine struck Ireland. Designed as a cargo vessel, it was refitted to take thousands of emigrants to North America, sometimes carrying over 300 passengers at a time. Today, local man Sean Connick runs the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience, a fascinating guided tour that sees costumed performers bring to life the harsh realities of life below deck.
Be dazzled by Hook Head. Along this stunning peninsula you’ll find another piece of wonderful maritime history: the world’s oldest operational lighthouse. Hook Head Lighthouse
has shone a protective beam for passing sailors for 800 years and remarkably, the original structure is still intact. Local legend has it that the first beacon on the site was lit by a 5th century Welsh monk called Dubhan, who established a monastery nearby. See life-sized holograms of St Dubhan and William Marshal bring the stories to life inside the lighthouse’s ancient walls.
Explore the highlights of Ireland's Maritime Gateway in more detail.
Surprise yourself and unearth some of Ireland’s most intriguing stories with a visit to Ireland’s Ancient East this autumn. Begin some more journeys by browsing some carefully curated itineraries.