Where better to begin your journey than at Lough Gur, where a horde of Viking treasures awaits.
Iron knives, jet bracelets, spindle whorls and a store of Danish silver reward the visitor at the Heritage Centre beside this tranquil lake, along with the silent stone forts of Carraig Aille. From here, it’s a leisurely drive to Tipperary and the stunningly scenic Glen of Aherlow.
The peaks of the Galtee Mountains and softly wooded Slievenamuck envelop you as you pass through this timeless valley, unchanged since the Vikings tramped through it so many centuries ago… Well known for its wonderful walks, follow one of the eight looped walking trails through the glen. Afterwards, treat yourself to afternoon tea by the fire at Aherlow House. A short distance away looms the imposing Rock of Cashel, seat of Brian Boru, King of Munster and the man who would eventually defeat the Vikings in the Battle of Clontarf.
The historic walled town of Fethard is the perfect pit stop for an enlightening walking tour, complete with ancient stone gateway (and explicitly carved Sheela-na-Gigs). At the mouth of the River Colligan in Dungarvan, rumours of Viking footprints still whisper through the town. The Waterford County Museum faithfully preserves these tales over a millennium of history.
If you have more time:
Call in to the Old Market House Arts Centre in Dungarvan, where local art is displayed against the beautiful backdrop of the building’s 17th century walls. Or visit Cahir Castle, which looks like it grows out of a rocky outcrop by the River Suir. One of Ireland’s largest castles, it has witnessed bloody sieges, brutal bombardments and cousinly killings since 1142.