2014 marks the millennium anniversary of the most savage battle in the entire history of Ireland and also the death of the greatest high king of Ireland, Brian Boru. Discovering Ireland are pleased to be able to offer a superb range of high quality tours of Ireland which commemorate these events, not only in 2014 but beyond.
These tours give you the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the great high kings and warriors of ancient Ireland. If you are descendant from one of the great clans of Ireland including the O’Brien’s, MacNamara, O’Grady’s you will be able to discover your heritage and the role that your very own ancestors played in the events leading up to and during the Battle of Clontarf . The fact is that nearly every clan in Ireland was involved in this battle.
Visit medieval fortresses, museums and memorials that will help you to feel connected to this ancient land. What is more if there are areas of particular significance to your family or clan we can personalise the tour to suit your precise needs. While you travel, enjoy the impressive scenery and intriguing history that Ireland has to offer.
While the 1000th anniversary of this pivotal battle will take place in April 2014, this wide-ranging series of chauffeured and self-guided tours of Ireland will be available for all those who wish to travel to Ireland in 2013, 2014 and beyond.
Brian Boru C.941 - 1014
Bryan Boru or Brian Boru as he was more commonly known was born in Killaloe in the year 941 or thereabouts. The son of Cennétig mac Lorcain and Bé Binn inion Urchadh, his family belonged to the Dal gCais Clan based in the province of Munster. Throughout his entire life Brian Boru struggled with the Vikings. After his brother Mahon was killed by Viking forces in the year 978, Bryan became the head of the Dal gCais and King of Munster.
As the Dalcassians and Brian Boru (Bryan Boru) were growing in power in the South of Ireland, his rival Mael Sechnaill mac Domnaill, High King of Ireland was gaining power in the North. In the year 1002, Mael Sechnaill succumbed to the powerful Brian Boru, thus making Brian Boru High King of Ireland.
For a short time after his initial reign as High King of Ireland, Brian Boru’s enemies subjected to his rule, but this was to be short lived. The King of Leinster Mael Morda allied himself with Sigtrygg Silkbeard the Norse King of Dublin and grew an army to fight against Bryan Boru and his following. Both sides collided on Good Friday morning in Clontarf in the year 1014. The Battle was fierce and savage with more than 10,000 men killed on that day. Brian Boru and his allies won the battle but Brian paid greatly with his life.
Day Trip 1: Enjoying Kilkenny!
Kilkenny City is long renowned as Ireland’s Medieval Capital, the city’s origins date back more than 1,500 years. Characterised by beautifully restored old buildings and covered slipways, Kilkenny City is small and compact enough to explore on foot, yet full of fascinating, historical buildings, and contemporary shops, design galleries, cafés and restaurants. Your stop here is sure to include the grand and imposing Kilkenny Castle with its onsite parklands which stands dramatically on a strategic height and dominates the 'High Town' of Kilkenny City or Saint Canice's Cathedral, the second longest of Ireland's medieval cathedrals which provides a seminal influence on Kilkenny life. Outside, your kids will enjoy the climb to the top of the 9th century round tower, once used by the monks for refuge.
Day Trip 2: Exploring Wexford
Wexford contains some of Ireland's most stunning scenery and it is easily accessed from Kilkenny. Your day trip today will take in the Irish National Heritage Park near New Ross, always a popular stop with kids; the park features replications of Irish homesteads, burial and worship sites, and takes the visitor on a tour through 9,000 years of Irish history. Continuing on your journey down to the tip of Hook Peninsula, you might wish to pay a visit to Hook Lighthouse which dates to the early 13th century and was a major feat at the time of its construction. The lighthouse is open all year round and prides itself in being a ‘Family Fun’ day out with activities for kids especially during the summer months. The ‘Ring of Hook’ road returns along the western side of the peninsula, passing the beaches at Booley Bay and Dollar Bay and on a promontory overlooking the town of Duncannon you will find Duncannon Fort which was built in 1588 as protection from the threat of attack by the Spanish Armada. On your return you may wish to visit the Dunbrody Famine Ship which is moored on the river in the centre of the town or Kennedy Homestead, birthplace of President John F. Kennedy’s great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy. The Dunbrody ship is always a popular stop with kids due to the costumed character tour guides and interactive exhibits.
Day Trip 3: Exploring Waterford
A short distance from Kilkenny, the city of Waterford can be found and the city has a host of sightseeing options; the House of Waterford Crystal for example exhibits one of Ireland’s most famous exports. Here you can take a guided Factory Tour, giving you first hand access to all areas of traditional crystal production. Visit the newly restored Bishops Palace which charts the history of Waterford from 1700 to 1970 or Reginald’s Tower; the oldest civic urban building in Ireland that is now home to an exhibition of historic and archaeological artefacts that tell the story of Waterford's Viking heritage. You may simply decide to explore the shops, bars and cafés of this compact city at your leisure or take a cruise along the River Suir which is a wonderful way to see the sights of Waterford. After your city exploration, you might decide to continue to Dunmore East which is one of Ireland’s most charming fishing villages and a popular seaside retreat for locals and international tourists or Tramore Strand which is more popular with kids due to the permanent amusement arcades and amusement rides close by. The heritage town of Lismore is also in easy reach of Waterford and here you can find many historic buildings here including Lismore Castle & Gardens and St. Carthages Cathedral. In Lismore also you can take the Towers Woodland Trail outside the town and view the unusual gate lodge and bridge constructed by landlord Arthur Kiely Ussher to impress his demanding wife. The cost of building the elaborate Gothic entrance proved so great that the intended manor house was never built!
Day Trip 4: Exploring County Wicklow: The Garden of Ireland
Wicklow is often referred to as the Garden of Ireland and since it is only a hop, skip and a jump from Kilkenny it is an ideal day trip destination for you and your kids! You might start your day’s touring by visiting the Chocolate Garden of Ireland, one of Ireland’s newest family attractions where you can learn all about chocolate production, growing cocoa, how Easter eggs and other chocolate goods are made, and even have a go at creating and decorating your very own chocolate product! From here the beautiful Glendalough Valley is less than one hour drive. Glendalough “the glen of the two lakes” is a truly spellbinding place - an ancient monastic settlement and two clear water lakes beneath the sheer cliffs of a deep valley, which was carved out by glaciers during the Ice Age. The monastic settlement has been a centre for pilgrims and visitors since its foundation by St. Kevin in the 6th century, there are beautiful walks for you and your kids to explore at your leisure and bikes can be hired in nearby Rounwood if you are feeling adventurous! with Tarzan Swings, rope bridges, rowing boats, water slides, rafts, canoes, junior go-carts, mini golf, picnic areas, a restaurant and lots more the Clara Lara Funpark is bound to be a hit with younger kids!
Day Trip 5: Exploring Tipperary & Clare
One of your first stops today should be Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, an essential visit for any family tour of Ireland. Built in 1425, the majestic castle was restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendour. The houses and cottages of the folk park spread out at the foot of its massive walls, much in the way that the cottages and crofts of olden times would have clustered around its base. Not too far away, kids young and old will enjoy Craggaunowen! Situated on 50 acres of woodland; the Park interprets Ireland’s pre-historic and early Christian periods through reconstructed dwellings and tools that existed in Ireland during these times. You may of course want to visit the town of Moneygall where President Barrack Obama claimed his ancestry in 2011 and on your return stop by the famous Rock of Cashel, Cashel was once the seat of the Kings of Munster and capital of this southern province. The Rock, which rears above the plain, dominated the land routes southwards. Kings of Ireland as well as Munster came to this spot and St. Patrick is known to have preached on the rock and converted the local King, Aenghus, here in the 5th Century. Not far away Cahir Castle was once an important stronghold of the powerful Butler family and it retains its impressive keep, tower and much of its original defensive structure. It is one of Ireland’s largest and best-preserved castles.
Day Trip 6: Exploring Cork
Cork contains some of Ireland's most beautiful scenery, historic sites and locations and it is easily accessible from Adare. Your day trip today will take in the famous Blarney Castle where you and your kids will enjoy kissing the famous Blarney Stone which is said to grant the gift of eloquence! Your Irish Tourism detailed itinerary will help you explore the nearby town of Cobh which was the last port of call for the ill-fated titanic in 1912 and is also the gateway to the prominent Spike Island which has hosted a monastery, a fortress and a prison within its 104 acres. A short distance from Cobh, Fota Wildlife Park is always a hit with younger kids, the park is not like a conventional zoo, wherever possible animals thrive in an unrestricted environment, which allows them to roam free, while mixed with other species and of course human visitors! You might decide to stop in Cork City en-route. Here there are a number of interesting places to visit including St.Finbarre’s Cathedral, The Church of St. Anne Shandon, The English Market, Cork Gaol or the Crawford Art Gallery to name but a few.
Day Trip 7: Exploring the Capital!
The journey from Kilkenny to Dublin is less than two hours but there are places where you may wish to stop en-route. The National Stud for example comprises three separate attractions. The 1,000 acre Farm at Tully has been in use as a Stud Farm since 1900. There is a Horse Museum tracing the history of the horse in Ireland using artefacts, illustrations and text and the Japanese Gardens situated in the grounds were the first of their kind in Ireland and in Europe. On arrival in Dublin explore all that this cosmopolitan city has to offer. Attractions include Christ Church Cathedral which was founded in the year 1030 and the adjacent Dublinia which is very popular with the younger generation. You might choose to visit the National Wax Museum a favourite attraction for kids young and old or pay a visit to the Butlers Chocolate Experience where you and your kids can become chocolatiers! Of course you may wish to take time out to shop in Grafton Street or any one of a number of narrow and quaint streets that the café strewn city centre has to offer. This afternoon, why not spend some time in the Temple Bar area. This small area boasts a dazzling choice of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops to suit all tastes and pockets, all within easy walking distance of Temple Bar's many cultural centres and galleries.