When the Sun Sets

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As the light fades and the stars appear over Ireland’s Ancient East, the landscape begins to look and feel different. Deep forests take on a secretive, magical quality and the echoing halls of the great houses seem to hold more mysteries than they did in the light of day. It’s at night that it’s easiest to connect with the old legends and strange tales of this very ancient part of the world.
For starters, walk in the shoes of Gaelic nobility with a ringfort stay at the Irish National Heritage Park, on the banks of the River Slaney in Wexford. A feature of the newly Christianised Ireland of 1500 years ago, the replica ringfort is surrounded by a strong oak palisade complete with a tall watch-tower. The picturesque big house inside has stone walls and a thatched roof, with a cosy central hearth, and sleep 6 to 8 people comfortably.

The park closes at 6.30pm, when you’ll be left in complete freedom to roam as you like—exploring the woods, watching the wildlife and enjoy the views across Slaney Estuary.
A lake with reeds in the foreground and heritage buildings in the background
A Celtic cross and a stone and thatch heritage building
The Irish National Heritage Park, on the banks of the River Slaney in Wexford.
Staying in Wexford, Loftus Hall near New Ross is said to be Ireland’s most haunted house and contains a dark and strange history.

A large mansion house on the Hook Peninsula, rumour has it that the estate is haunted by the ghost of a young woman. Originally built in the 14th century during the time of the Black Death, Loftus Hall has seen many owners over the centuries. Today the house is famous for spookily immersive tours of the ground floor, conducted by night - your chance to discover the nocturnal secrets of Loftus Hall for yourself.

   
Loftus Hall, Co. Wexford, video by Johnny Brew
Loftus Hall at night

Loftus Hall, Co. Wexford

Loftus Hall, Co. Wexford
For a more cosy, night-time experience, discover the art of storytelling - an age old tradition that has helped shape the culture and history of Ireland’s Ancient East. As the winter nights grow darker, gather by the fireside at one of the houses of the Stories From the Hearth initiative, organised by the County Wexford Storytelling Network.

There are seven houses in the network, from Clonegal in the north of Wexford to Kyle Forge, Crossabeg in the south of the county. Each one has a unique quality that must be experienced, while songs, recitations and dancing guarantee a lively session. The Fear a Tí or Bean a Tí will always have a welcome tale for all those young and old, not to mention a cup of tea.
Immerse yourself in some chilling history with a night-time tour of the dungeon corridors of Wicklow Gaol, sure to set your spine tingling.

Built in 1702, the gaol was locally known as “The Gates of Hell” and held thousands of prisoners during the Great Famine, the 1798 Rebellion and the War of Independence.

Only the brave sign up for the adults-only Wicklow Gaol Night Tour, a chance to explore the chilling tales of this historic site in the company of a troupe of local actors in the dark of night.

Exterior shot of Wicklow Gaol
Child prisoner in Wicklow gaol
Left: The gloomy exterior of atmospheric Wicklow Gaol. Right: Re-enactment of a child prisoner in a Wicklow Gaol cell.
Recover from your gaol experience with a more relaxing nocturnal activity next. Follow in the footsteps of Saint Kevin and sample the stillness and serenity of the Wicklow landscape by the light of the moon. The Full Moon Walk Enniskerry is organised by Hilltoptreks.ie and takes in some of the most scenic parts of Wicklow and Dublin, like Glendalough, Luggala and Djouce.

Each two to three hour tour will take place close to Enniskerry Village and include many of the great wooded trails in the area - with fantastic 360 degree views from the top of a hill across the eastern coastline of Dublin and Wicklow.
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Left: Dusk in Glendalough Right: Glendalough at sun set
With narrow cobbled lanes and mysterious charm, it should come as no surprise that medieval Kilkenny is bursting with strange tales.
A series of historic tragedies have left its mark on the city and Kilkenny Ghost Tour explores their legacy with a walking tour by night—taking in the curse of Sir Richard Shee, the famous witch trials and Kilkenny Prison, amongst other macabre stories. Every visitor to the tour is asked to wear a witch’s hat and cape to ensure their safe passage through the city lanes and carry a lantern to guarantee their safe passage through the medieval city.

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