Start your day in Dublin City with a tour of Christ Church Cathedral, a building founded by Sitric Silkenbeard in c.1030. The building is also associated with the likes of Strongbow and the Patron Saint of Dublin, Laurence O’Toole. Walk through the cathedral and be captivated by 1,000 of years worth of history. While at Christ Church be sure to visit the Dublinia Museum, where you can discover more about the Viking past of Dublin, and the impact of Viking kings like Sitric Silkbeard in founding and developing the city.
From here, walk across to Dublin Castle where it is possible to discover more about the Viking’s reign in Ireland. Below the castle, excavations have uncovered parts of the structure of the medieval castle alongside the remains of some of Viking Dublin’s original defences.
From Dublin City, consider a trip to the coastal town of Clontarf, the location of Ireland’s most famous battle, where the Viking king Sitric Silkbeard took on the King of Ireland, Brian Boru. While Sitric was defeated, he continued in his role as King of Dublin for years to come. Take a walk around this picturesque town and be sure to explore the grounds of Clontarf Castle.
Return to Dublin City via North Dublin and discover more recent history at the EPIC Museum, Dublin’s Emigration Museum, located in Dublin’s Docklands. Follow your visit to the museum with a trip to the Jameson Whiskey Distillery for a sample of Ireland’s most famous whiskey and a tour around the historic building. Nearby are then plenty of restaurants to finish your day with a delicious meal.
Journey south of Dublin to Wicklow and to the deeper parts of Ireland’s Ancient East. As you journey through the rugged hills and mountains of County Wicklow, it is easy to imagine the ancient Irish kings and queens who would have traversed them as they made their way to and from Dublin thousands of years ago.
Make your first stop a visit to Powerscourt House and Gardens, where 19 hectares of gardens lie waiting to be explored and where you’ll understand why Wicklow is known as the “Garden of Ireland”. The views from the House of its gardens and the surrounding landscape down to Triton Lake are something else. A massive highlight of Powerscourt House is also the Powerscourt Waterfall, Ireland’s highest waterfall. What’s more, Wicklow is home to the beautiful stately homes of Russborough House and Parklands in Blessington, should you have time to stop and admire them too.
As you make your way further south, the magnificent views over Wicklow Mountains National Park will almost stop you in your tracks. With over 20,000 hectares to explore, there won’t be time to see it all but there should be time for lunch at one of the park’s great picnic spots, whilst looking out over the park’s stunning views. Leave a few hours to then experience the trail to the incredible monastic city of Glendalough. The glacial valley is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland with many lakes and monuments just waiting to be explored. Founded by St. Kevin in the 6th Century, the area of Glendalough is a must-see for anyone visiting Wicklow.
As you reach Wicklow Town, visit Wicklow Gaol to gain insight into the intriguing history of prison life over the last 200 years. The interactive tour takes you back in time to some of the most important dates in recent Irish history. The town itself was supposedly founded around 795 by the Vikings. Make sure to check out the Black Castle ruins which overlook the harbour and are a reminder of the Norman invasion.
Finish up with dinner at one of Wicklow Town’s many restaurants or enjoy some pub grub and live music at one of its bars.
Ireland's most famous king, Brian Boru ended the High Kingship in Ireland and famously defeated the Vikings at Clontarf.View timeline
Recognised as the 'Warrior Queen of Connacht', Maeve is one of Ireland's most iconic historical characters, and arguably the most famous Queen.View timeline
The ancestor of the famous Uí Néill dynasty, some 3 million Irish people are believed to be descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages.View timeline
The famous Pirate Queen, Grace O'Malley protected the west of Ireland from English attacks.View timeline
The Viking King of Dublin, Sitric was the son of Óláfr Sigtryggsson and Gormlaith.View timeline
The former wife of the great king Brian Boru, and mother to his rival, Sitric Silkbeard.View timeline
The King of Leinster, Dermot is responsible for the Anglo-Norman invasion and centuries of British Rule in Ireland.View timeline
Wife of Anglo-Norman warrior Strongbow, Aoife was the Princess of Leinster and daughter to King Dermot of Leinster.View timeline
A former King of Ulster, Conchobar was briefly married to Queen Maeve of Connacht.View timeline
Believed to be the first Queen of Ireland of foreign or non-Celtic lineage.View timeline
The last King of Ireland and son of Turlough O'Connor, King of Connacht.View timeline