Drive the short 20-minute journey to the pretty town of Kells where you’ll break for lunch. This historic location is where terrified monks fled to (with the famous Book of Kells) after escaping Viking raids on the island of Iona in the 9th century. Ancient history is everywhere in this bustling town, with the carved high crosses, oratory and round tower still whispering of the holy men and artists who lived here. Try the Bookmarket Café for books and coffee, or the Butterfly Café for wonderful cakes – then walk them off with a guided tour of the town.
Your next destination is one county over – Offaly, where you’ll discover the tranquil riverside location of Clonmacnoise on the banks of the Shannon. The bones of Christian saints and ancient kings rest side by side at this world-famous monastic settlement, founded in 544 by St Ciarán. Look for the "whispering door" in the cathedral: lepers would stand here and still be heard across the cathedral when they came to confess their sins... while the priests would keep a safe distance. This medieval seat has been plundered by Irish tribes, Vikings and Normans alike and features a stunning collection of sculpted stone crosses.
Travel back in time to the early Middle Ages for the final destination of the day – the historic town of Athlone in Westmeath, where you’ll stay for the night. With a beautiful location on the banks of the Shannon and plenty of accommodation options, this easy-going town is home to a national monument in the form of its regal 13th century castle. You’ll have time for the castle tomorrow; in the meantime, head for dinner at Athlone’s Thyme restaurant, then enjoy a pint at Sean’s Bar, which claims to be the oldest pub in Europe.