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Discover Ireland's past – historical walks on the Emerald Isle

©Failte Ireland/Courtesy Liam Murphy

Discover Ireland's past – historical walks on the Emerald Isle

Hiking Collection by Irland

12

Tours

98:43 h

229 mi

13,225 ft

Stone buildings can last for many centuries, even millennia. Since time immemorial, the inhabitants of Ireland have used this durable material: in antiquity, they built mounds, gates and chambers over their graves and lived in fortified forts. When Christianity took hold, churches, monasteries and chapels were added. Building techniques became increasingly sophisticated and then mighty castles and magnificent palaces grew out of the green soil.

Many of these historical sights are shrouded in mystery. Some are only preserved as ruins, others have been lovingly reconstructed. Some of the monuments can only be reached on foot, others are so large that just visiting them can turn into a hike. In this Collection, we present 12 walks through Ireland's exquisite history and highlight 10 additional fascinating sites.

We take you to the most magnificent castles, the most sublime monasteries and the castles with the best stories. Explore ancient burial mounds and immerse yourself in the time of the clans, the Vikings and the Normans. Visit ritual places of worship and stately fortresses, take a look underground at the history of mining. You'll find out how people once lived – from the Stone Age to the more recent past a mere few decades ago.

All these sights are set in the spectacular Irish countryside. Some are located by the sea, others high up on mountain peaks or on one of the islands. Combined with a hike, your visit to the past becomes the perfect day out. Two long-distance hiking trails take you on a journey back in time for several days.

Thanks to the island's mild climate, you can hike these Tours all year round with sturdy shoes and waterproofs. So, lace up your walking boots. Ireland's extraordinary historic sites are waiting to be discovered.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Cosan na Naomh (Saint's Road) – Wandern in Irland

    Difficult
    05:15
    11.3 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,675 ft
    1,175 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This pilgrimage route, called the Way of the Saints, has spectacular views over the Dingle Peninsula. You start on the sandy beach at Ventry and walk past Christian ruins, stone crosses and structures over a thousand years old at the foot of Mount Brandon.

    

    It starts in the small town of Ventry, which

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    by Irland

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  • Intermediate
    03:17
    5.87 mi
    1.8 mph
    975 ft
    975 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    On the just over nine kilometers long circular route, the spectacular Glendalough Valley awaits you with a small waterfall, great views of the valley and a fascinating ruin of a former mining settlement.

    

    Right at the beginning of your tour you have to master a steep climb, but the effort is worth it

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    by Irland

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  • Difficult
    33:08
    74.5 mi
    2.2 mph
    7,100 ft
    6,275 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    In the north of Ireland you can take a look into the past for several days and go two long-distance hiking trails in one: This route combines the Miner's Way, on which you immerse yourself in the history of mining, and the Historical Trail, on which you, among other things, one Explore millennia-old

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    by Irland

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  • Difficult
    42:57
    105 mi
    2.4 mph
    1,125 ft
    1,250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The National Famine Way commemorates the devastating famine that hit Ireland in the 19th century. On this long-distance hiking trail, you will follow in the footsteps of 1,490 hungry people who took this route in 1847 to set off from Dublin to America.

    

    The route leads from Strokestown Park through six

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    by Irland

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  • Intermediate
    02:43
    6.16 mi
    2.3 mph
    650 ft
    650 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This walking tour takes you to old copper mines, a museum and along the beautiful Irish coast. You start in Allihies, which you leave to the south. At the exit of the village you will pass the Copper Mine Museum, where you can now learn more about the mining history of the place as an introduction or

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    by Irland

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  • Easy
    01:09
    2.80 mi
    2.4 mph
    50 ft
    50 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    In the footsteps of aviation and radio history, you can take an easy and short circuit south of Clifden. It leads you past several lakes and partly on wooden plank paths over swampy area. You circle Lough Emlaghnabehy and discover a place where history was made.

    

    The name of this trail refers to Guglielmo

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    by Irland

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  • Intermediate
    03:06
    7.30 mi
    2.4 mph
    350 ft
    350 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This tour on the island of Inis Oírr - English Inisheer - takes you back in time: Mystical stones, shipwrecks and medieval ruins await you between green meadows, stone walls and a wonderful coastal landscape.

    

    Inis Oírr belongs to the Aran Islands and literally means: "Eastern island". The archipelago

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    by Irland

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  • Intermediate
    02:36
    5.73 mi
    2.2 mph
    625 ft
    700 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Sailor, trader, pirate queen: many stories are told about Granuaile (Gráinne Ní Mháille or English Grace O’Malley). The daughter of a clan chief lived in the 16th century and stood up to hostile clans and even the Queen of England. She was notorious on water and on land, plundered castles and ambushed

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    by Irland

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  • Easy
    00:43
    1.56 mi
    2.2 mph
    175 ft
    175 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This short hike takes you to the caves in Keash Hill. The hike begins at a parking lot by the church in Keash. You walk a short distance along a small road and then turn right into a slope. There it goes steeply up to the caves. A total of 17 of them are lined up on the steep rock face. From up there

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    by Irland

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  • Easy
    01:11
    2.89 mi
    2.4 mph
    50 ft
    50 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This hike is a true journey through time. Although it is quite short at less than three miles, you can spend several hours here, because you will pass many witnesses of the Middle Ages - above all the impressive Trim Castle, whose stately walls served as the backdrop for the film Braveheart.

    

    You start

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    by Irland

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  • Easy
    01:12
    2.96 mi
    2.5 mph
    25 ft
    25 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This leisurely loop leads northeast of Limerick along the River Shannon. With hardly any inclines worth mentioning, you can enjoy a relaxing river hike here. The route starts in the small town of O’Briensbridge, which is named after the bridge that crosses the Shannon. The mighty stone bridge dates from

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    by Irland

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  • Easy
    01:24
    3.02 mi
    2.2 mph
    425 ft
    425 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This relaxing loop takes you to the Woodstock Estate south of Inistioge. The hike begins in the small town with the stone bridge that is well worth seeing. You leave it to the south and walk along the bank of the River Nore, where you enter a forest.

    

    In a big curve you hike to the Woodstock Estate, which

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    by Irland

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  • © OSM

    Cahercommaun Ring Fort

    Hiking Highlight

    Almost 16,500 tons of stone were needed to build the Cahercommaun Ring Fort in the Bronze or Iron Ages. Research has shown that there were several buildings inside the ring when it was in use. Forts were built to protect the people and to have defenses.

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    Tip by Angelina Kuhlmann

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  • © OSM

    Newtown Castle

    Hiking Highlight

    The Burren College of Art has been using Newtown Castle as its location since 1994. It was originally built by the O'Briens clan. The keep, still visible today, dates from the 16th century.

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    Tip by Angelina Kuhlmann

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  • © OSM

    Hill of Tara

    Hiking Highlight

    In the catchment area of the Boyne Valley you will find not only the impressive historical stone tombs of Brú na Bóinne but also the Hill of Tara. Looking back at the history of this magical place, the Hill of Tara can arguably be called the heart of earlier Irish history and paganism.

    Up until the 12th century it was one of the most important religious and power-political places in Ireland. For a long time the Hill of Tara was used as the center of power for the so-called Hochkönige. The traditions report that the coronation of the Hochkönig by the fate stone should have taken place. The coronation stone still exists today. According to tradition, he should have uttered a scream when the rightful king touched him. The mythology differs from the reality, because there never was one Hochkönig in Ireland. So the Hill of Tara was most likely used by several regional rulers.

    But even before the 3rd century AD, the place must have had a religious significance. That is what the buildings and finds suggest. Today, of the former monuments, the hill of the hostages (a passage grave), various Raths (circles of the earth from the Iron Age), the stone of destiny and the St. Patrick's Church are still present. It is believed that in earlier times there were wooden structures in various places on the Hill of Tara that are no longer there today.

    With the spread of Christianity, the Hill of Tara lost its importance as a place of worship. But today it is still considered the home of gods and druids and numerous myths surround this place: heritageireland.ie/visit/places-to-visit/hill-of-tara.

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    Tip by Angelina Kuhlmann

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  • © OSM

    The Old Barracks

    The Old Barracks serves as a Heritage Centre for the Iveragh Peninsula. It is home to various exhibitions that relate to the local area, including The Great Southern and Western Railway, The Life and Times of Daniel O’Connell, The Fenin Rising of 1867, The 1916 Rising and Monsignor Hugh O’ Flaherty (The Scarlet Pimpernel).

    The History of The Old Barracks

    The history of the Heritage Centre or Old Barracks is fascinating. The building was constructed between the years of 1870 and 1875 as a police station for the Royal Irish Constabulary.
    The authorities wanted an imposing building to protect the Irish end of the transatlantic telegraph cable which entered the sea at Valentia Island. The Old World and New World were connected at last and the authorities did not want the humiliating situation of an uprising cutting that link. In fact only one year after the cable had been laid in 1866 there was an ill fated uprising in Cahersiveen by the Fenians.

    The British authorities were so anxious to get the barracks built that the plans were mixed up in the haste to get the building constructed that we have a building that was originally designed for the Punjab in India! Somewhere in the Punjab there is a town with a barracks or police station that was designed for Cahersiveen. Unfortunately this story is probably incorrect. The British commissioned the architect Enoch Trevor-Owen to design the building and the Schloss style of architecture was popular with Trevor-Owen.
    cahersiveen.ie/the-old-barracks
    theoldbarrackscahersiveen.com

    Tip by Edvard

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  • © OSM

    Staigue Fort

    Hiking Highlight

    Meter-high, sturdy stone walls were once supposed to protect a clan head or some other powerful person here. The facility dates from the Iron Age, before Christianity came to Ireland. You get in through a narrow and low opening in the wall. Once inside, you can let your imagination run wild: there were probably several houses and other buildings as well as tents standing close together in the limited, safe space.

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    Tip by Mareike

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  • © OSM

    9,000 years of Irish history: in this spacious open-air museum you will discover how people once lived here. The focus is on prehistoric settlements, early Christianity and the era when first the Vikings and then the Normans stormed the island. Reconstructions bring these epochs back to life. You can see, among other things, a castle and a monastery, Viking houses and ring forts.

    If you want to delve even deeper into history, you can take a guided tour, take a class and even spend a night like a Viking.

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    Tip by Mareike

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  • © OSM

    Trim Castle

    Hiking Highlight

    Trim Castle is located in County Meath's picturesque Boyne Valley. It dates back to the 12th century and is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. That alone is impressive. In the center is the Keep, a residential and defense tower with a cross-shaped floor plan. Some may recognize the castle from the film Braveheart, some of which was filmed here.

    The bridge that spans the River Boyne next to the castle is also worth a look. It dates back to 1303. Then you can take a tour of the pretty town of Trim. A themed path starts at the visitor center and takes you through the medieval streets and to other historical sights.

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    Tip by Mareike

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  • © OSM

    Kylemore Abbey

    Hiking Highlight

    Kylemore Abbey is beautifully situated on the banks of a lake surrounded by wooded hills. The monastery is housed in an imposing 19th century castle. Behind the walls, splendidly furnished rooms and halls as well as an exhibition on the history of the place await you. A church in neo-Gothic style also belongs to the property.

    After the visit, you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings with a stroll along the lake shore and through the gardens. The tea house offers meals and baked goods based on the nuns' recipes, as well as herbal teas straight from the garden.

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    Tip by Mareike

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  • More Tours & Highlights

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    12
  • Highlights
    10
  • Distance
    229 mi
  • Duration
    98:43 h
  • Elevation
    13,225 ft

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