Explore Dublin City, where Gormlaith would have reigned as queen when married to Óláfr Sigtryggsson (known as Amlaíb in Irish sources), Norse king of Dublin and York.
Dublin City is spilling over with historic sites, exciting attractions, great shops and tons of eateries. And, although there is so much to see and do, a lot can be packed into one day in the city.
Start with a tour around the historic and prestigious Trinity College, a beautiful university that has known many notable alumni including Jonathan Swift, Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde. In the college’s Old Library, make sure to check out the Book of Leinster, a book featuring Queen Gormlaith and other Irish historical characters. There is then the infamous Book of Kells, a richly decorated book of the Gospels, to take a look at.
After a tour of Trinity take a wander along Grafton Street (just outside the university), one of Dublin’s busiest shopping streets and where buskers and street acts can be found entertaining passersby all day long. After an hour or so of shopping, have a picnic at St. Stephen’s Green, a park situated at the top of Grafton Street. The park’s pretty lake and green areas make it a perfect sanctuary from the busy streets of the city. Alternatively, pop into the famous Bewley’s Coffee Shop for Afternoon Tea if the weather doesn’t afford you a picnic.
Finish up your sightseeing with a tour of the stunning Christ Church Cathedral, founded by Gormlaith’s son, Sitric Silkenbeard, in 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. There is also Dublinia, a magnificent museum located beside Christ Church, detailing the ins and outs of the medieval city that once existed around Christ Church during Gormlaith’s husband, son and other kings’ reign.
End your day in Dublin with dinner in the city’s Temple Bar area. The area has plenty of restaurants catering to every budget – from burger joints to fine dining restaurants. If you’re still awake by 9pm then pop into one of the area’s many famous pubs for a great traditional Irish session and a pint of the “black stuff”.
Leave Dublin to explore Kildare, the area where Queen Gormlaith was born. Here you can imagine Gormlaith’s humble beginnings in Naas, County Kildare before she took the throne of queen.
Begin your Kildare adventure by visiting Castletown House, a stunning Palladian-style mansion in the town of Celbridge. Built in the 18th Century, Castletown is Ireland’s largest Palladian-style house, while the estate has over 100 acres of stunning woodlands and gardens just waiting to be explored. The estate underwent a restoration project in 1994, which transformed it into one of the finest public houses in Ireland.
Journey further along to the town of Newbridge, where the Newbridge Silver Museum and Visitor Centre is situated. This is a great stop for those interested in the craftsmanship that goes into making silver products or for those keen on picking up a unique gift. As you travel to Newbridge, be sure to make a stop in Naas, the birthplace of Queen Gormlaith. Here you will find the ruins of St Davids Castle and the Museum of Motorsport which is located near Mondello Park, a motorsport venue which offers high-speed driving experiences.
Kildare itself is a wonderful part of Ireland to journey across, it’s quaint villages, country roads and beautiful landscape proving popular with visitors. It is also home to some of Ireland’s finest racecourses with The Curragh, Punchestown and Naas all located in the county (an extra day would be needed to enjoy one of the races at these courses).
As well as being the location of some of the nations best racecourses, Kildare is also home to the Irish National Stud and Gardens, with the county considered by many to be the Equestrian Capital of Ireland. Highlights at The Stud include the Horse Museum, the Living Legends centre, the Stud itself, and acres of stunning grounds in the famous Japanese Gardens, and St Fiachra’s Garden. No trip to Kildare would be complete without a trip to the Irish National Stud, which is located in Tully.
Travel on to the historic Kildare Town, one of Ireland’s oldest towns, dating back to 480 AD. Here you can visit St. Brigid’s Cathedral, named after St. Brigid who is very much synonymous with the area.
In Kildare Town, the Round Tower (the highest in Ireland that can still be climbed), while St. Brigid’s Fire Temple, Kildare Castle and White Abbey all lie waiting to be explored and should be easily fitted into a few hours. Follow up with dinner at one of the cosy pubs located in the town centre before finishing your day by checking out the shops at Kildare Village, one of Ireland’s premier shopping facilities.
Should you want to experience something truly unique on your travels through Kildare, consider a visit to Lullymore Heritage Park in Rathangan. Lullymore provides a great insight into Irish Peatlands and the lives of people who lived in these bog land regions for generations. The Heritage Centre in the village of Athy is another great place to consider visiting, should time be on your side, as here you will learn about the history of Athy including its early Anglo-Norman days.
For golf fans looking to retrace the steps of Ireland’s kings and queens, while getting in 18-holes as you travel, Kildare is home to two of Ireland’s finest golf courses, with The K Club (former host of The Ryder Cup) and Carton House up there with the very best inland golf courses in Ireland.
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