With a sprig of three-leaved clover – and a mounted cross to make his point – St Patrick changed Ireland’s history forever when he preached Christianity to the King of Munster at the Rock of Cashel in the 5th century. Over 1,500 years later, this picturesque hilltop site looming over Tipperary’s Golden Vale is remembered as the spot where Patrick’s message first took root.
Stroll through layers of Norman and ancient Christian heritage before travelling to the charming village of Thomastown. A good place for a bite to eat here is Sol Bistro, a featured pit stop on Kilkenny’s Food Trail. It’s a popular spot that adds a Mediterranean twist to its locally sourced produce.
Close to the village on the other side of the River Nore is the home of visionary philosopher George Berkeley, Jerpoint Abbey. This serene 12th century church was once the spiritual heart of a now vanished Irish province, the Kingdom of Osraige. Today, this Cistercian structure is considered a national monument for its elegant cloister and intriguing stone carvings. Branch out further in Jerpoint Park, where the sacred crosses and medieval structures form part of a mysteriously deserted medieval settlement from the 12th century.
It’s thought that the name of your next stop, Kilkenny city, derives from the patron saint of St Canice’s Cathedral. The exquisite stained glass windows of the city’s cathedral and imposing Celtic Round Tower alongside it both encapsulate the significance of this hallowed place through the long ages of Kilkenny’s medieval history.