SOUTHEAST IRELAND. From rolling green hills over ancient ruins and rough coastlines up to graveyards that aren’t what they seem – the Southeast of Ireland as it all. I got the chance to have a local showing me around, so prepare yourself for some inside tips.
How’s it going? I’m grand – as they say here in Ireland. I just moved into my flat in Dublin and spent the last week exploring my new neighborhood. But I’ll share some more about that with you soon.
For today, I prepared some of my favourite spots in the Southeast of Ireland for you. This part of Ireland is often referred to as the ‘Sunny South East’ and includes the five counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford, and Wexford. It is known for its vibrant cities, rolling hills, picturesque river valleys, and craggy coastline. In addition, many early visitors, invaders, merchants etc. left a mark on the land. They created countless historic structures and marks – giving this area the name as Ireland’s historic region. Today, it is a flourishing centre of art and craft as well as home to many heritage sites. In other words, the Southeast of Ireland is beautiful – inside and out.
Fennelly’s in Callan
This will be your starting and breakfast point. After all, you can’t go sightseeing without a proper brekkie! Callan is only a 15 mins drive outside of Kilkenny and has plenty of parking possibilities. Fennelly’s is a beautifully designed art café with a vibe that makes you feel like you stepped into your grandma’s kitchen. I can highly recommend the smashed avocado with a poached egg on homemade brown bread. YUM! But basically, all the breakfast (and lunch) dishes at Fennelly’s are delicious. And don’t even get e started on the coffee… YUUUM! (If you’re feeling rebellious, have some lemon tarte for breakfast. It’s out of this world!)
Kells Augustinian Priory
Kells Augustinian Priory – which has nothing to do with the ‘Book of Kells’ btw – was founded in 1183. It just gets me so excited to imagine that I get to walk on the ground where people have been walking on for freakin’ 835 years! I mean you can almost smell the history. The priory is also often referred of as ‘Seven Castles’, which makes sense if you consider its size. It has more the appearance of a fortress with its collection of medieval towers, houses, and graveyards, all within the striking walls. In total, the area is over 12.000 m2 big.
There’s a car park right in front of the entrance and the entry is free. So, I don’t wanna hear any excuses. The Kells Augustinian Priory is a must-see!
Jerpoint Abbey is only a short drive away from lovely Thomastown, which is the perfect place to have a lunch stop. Jerpoint Abbey was built in the 12th century. Besides the many magnificently sculptured cloister arcade, you can also go on the roof of parts of the Abbey, leaving you with a stunning view over the whole side. The Visitor Centre right next to the abbey houses an interesting exhibition about the sculptures and history of Jerpoint.
For a student, the admission fee is €3 (regular €5).
Inistioge Wood Walk
The beautiful historic village of Inistioge is one of South Ireland’s many hidden gems. Located directly on the river Nore, it offers some of the best scenery in the region. You can not only follow plenty of river paths and woodland hikes but also grab a drink in one of the many pubs and restaurants. Especially the gardens of the recently restored Woodstock estate are worth a visit. Also, before you enter the town you will river over a magnificent ten arch stone bridge that dates back to 1765.
Nicholas Mosse Pottery
The mugs and plates of Nicholas Mosse are famous in the Kilkenny region and beyond. Not far away from Thomastown, you can see how they are made as well as make some significant deals in the pottery outlet. It’s worth a stop if you are looking for some souvenirs that don’t scream ‘Tourist shop’.
Bunmahon and the Copper Coast
I managed to cross one big point on my Ireland bucket list: Going for a swim in the Celtic Sea. It was absolutely freezing but so flipping beautiful! We went to the Bunmahon beach close to Waterford. It is a 2.5 km long sandy beach and – other than Tramore – away from tourists and amusement parks. It is backed by sand dunes and a popular spot for surfing and kayaking.
You can also find the area’s mining center in Bunmahon. As you might have guessed, the Copper Coast was THE place to be for copper mining during the 19th century. Near the village, you even find some of the Tankardstown Engine House is still standing.
If you have the time, you can follow the Copper Coast Road: the R675 stretches from Dungarvan to Tramore and is considered to be one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world.
That was it. My favourite spots in the Southeast. I only got the chance to visit Waterford briefly, which is why I did not list it. However, for what I got to see, Waterford is definitely worth a visit. I’ll come back one day! What are your favourite spots in the Southeast of Ireland?