In the middle of a swathe of pristine green fields lies a site that touches at the very heart of Irish history. This is the Hill of Tara – a place with a 5,000-year history, seat of Ireland’s High Kings and capital of the mythical god-like race of Tuatha Dé Danann.
Legend meets history here in spectacular fashion, as a special atmosphere haunts the emerald-coloured mounds, hills, ditches and banks. The verdant landscape continues towards the heritage town of Kells, famed for its high crosses richly carved with biblical scenes. From Kells, you’ll pass the two loughs of Bawn and Lene towards Fore Abbey, a grey ruin that rises spectacularly out of a lush, tranquil valley. Founded by St Fechin in the 7th century, Fore is famous for the “seven wonders”, including water from a holy well that doesn’t boil and a tree with three branches that won’t burn.
The tearooms at Tullynally Castle Gardens are ideal for a pit stop before wandering around this Gothic building, home to the Pakenham family for over 350 years. Overlooking Lough Derravaragh – the legendary lake of the Children of Lir – it’s the largest house in Ireland still in private hands. Try the Sunday afternoon Victorian tour, to learn about the secrets of “life below stairs”. Fascinating.