Thursday, September 29, 2011

Discover Medieval Ireland's Historic Legends

Step into Ireland’s lively and colorful Medieval past with a medieval themed vacation filled with castle banquet feasts, traditional music and art, spectacular cathedrals, medieval ruins, fully-restored 12th century houses and old world villages – you can even stay in a Medieval Castle and learn about the ancient art of falconry.

Despite violent incursions by the Vikings and the spread of Christianity, medieval Ireland maintained a distinctive identity due to its relative isolation by water. Much of this magical land with its many medieval treasures, were left intact. Today there are a plethora of medieval sites and experiences to be had, here are a couple of the ones that cannot be missed by those wishing to discover Ireland’s medieval legends.

Powerscourt is one of the most beautiful country estates in Ireland. Situated in the mountains of Wicklow, it was originally an important strategic site for the Anglo-Normans who came to Ireland in the 12th century. By the year 1300 a castle had been built here and was in the possession of the le Poer (Power) family from which it takes its name. The succeeding centuries saw the castle held for different periods by powerful families such as the O'Tooles and the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Kildare.

Irish National Heritage Park
A visit to the Irish National Heritage Park is like no other you can imagine. Surprises await around every turn as you explore 35 acres of this remarkable heritage trail. From campsite to Ringfort, from mill to Fulacht Fiadh, from Crannog to Viking house, every activity is an unexpected adventure into 9000 years. The world you enter is an authentic recreation of Ireland’s heritage. Homesteads, places of ritual, burial modes and long forgotten remains will enlighten the casual visitor and interest the scholar.

Rock of Cashel
Eclipsed in legend, the Rock of Cashel is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century. According to local mythology, the Rock of Cashel originated in the Devil's Bit, a mountain 19 miles north of Cashel when St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave, resulting in the Rock's landing in Cashel. The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for hundreds of years prior to the Norman invasion.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Feast your eyes and spirits on St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland. Built in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, there has been a church on the site since the 5th century. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest church in Ireland with a 140 foot spire and is one of two Church of Ireland cathedrals.

National Museum of Ireland, Archaeology
The Medieval Ireland exhibition contains three galleries entitled Power, Work and Prayer, reflecting the three-fold division of medieval society - nobles, common people and clergy. The lifestyle of nobles is explored, while surviving arms and armor reflect the distinctive characteristics of warfare in medieval Ireland. The exhibition looks at the different forms of agriculture (pastoral and arable), which were practiced. Finds from urban excavations illustrate Ireland’s import trade and the various crafts and industries operating in towns. The Irish church changed fundamentally in the 12th Century, although many older church traditions survived. The exhibition also looks at religious practice and devotion as well as church furnishings, including a fine selection of late medieval reliquaries: book shrines, bell shrines and crosiers.

Adare, Old World Village
Renowned as Ireland's prettiest village, Adare is a major tourist destination with many tours of Ireland stopping off in Adare. The local heritage centre gives a deep insight into the history of the village and also hosts a number of craft shops and a restaurant. With thatched roof cottages and Tudor style houses, beautiful gardens and ivy clad medieval churches in beautiful surroundings on both sides of the street beside the river Maigue. For those who want to linger and learn more visit the Heritage centre and step back in time.

Trinity College and the Book of Kells
16th Century Trinity College is the home to the greatest surviving product of mid-8th century Irish monks, the illuminated Book of Kells. The illustrations and ornamentation of the Book of Kells surpass that of other Insular Gospel books in extravagance and complexity.

Bunratty Castle Banquet
The most complete and authentically restored and furnished castle in Ireland, a colorful folk park and the famous Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquets. This is one tourist attraction you are not going to want to miss! Each night the Ladies of the Castle, aided and abetted by the Earl of Thomond’s Butler, welcome guests from the four corners of the globe to dine at The Earl’s Banquet at Bunratty Castle. The entertainment provided by the world renowned entertainers is a fitting compliment to a mead reception in the Great Hall of the castle, a four course traditional feast and of course good wine.

Craggaunowen Castle
Craggaunowen Castle, built in 1550, is a fortified tower house located near Sixmilebridge, County Clare, Ireland. It was built by John MacSioda MacNamara, a descendent of Sioda MacNamara, who built Knappogue Castle in 1467. It stands on a crag overlooking the lake in the grounds of Craggaunowen Park, an archaeological open-air museum.

The Ancient Art of Falconry at Ashford Castle
Why not round off your Medieval Vacation with a stay at an authentic 13th century castle? Stay at medieval Ashford Castle, located deep in the heartland of Mayo and set against a spectacular backdrop of forests, lakes and mountains. The stately architecture, surrounded by magnificent gardens makes Ashford Castle, a place where time stands still.

Ireland’s First School of Falconry, at Ashford castle, offers visitors the chance to experience the ancient art of Falconry first hand on a private Hawk Walk. They specialize in lessons using beautiful Harris hawks, but in addition to hawks the school is home to a variety of eagles, owls and falcons. Within minutes of arriving, you will have a hawk on your glove and be setting off to fly your hawk or hawks in the gardens and woodlands surrounding Ashford Castle.

As you travel through the lush green countryside of Ireland, you can imagine the Ireland of centuries gone by: ladies at court, fine feasts, jousting knights and a world where magic was still very much alive. The turbulent history of Ireland with raiders coming from all directions will come alive before your eyes as you learn about historical events, the arts, religion and the multiple facets of life in medieval Ireland. Discover Ireland’s historic legends on a medieval tour of Ireland with Celtic Tours.

With many self-drive vacations to Ireland, let Celtic Tours help plan your medieval vacation to Ireland. Have a group of people that want to experience Medieval Ireland? Try a Celtic Tours group tour of Ireland. We can create a customized Ireland vacation to suit you and your groups needs! Give us a call today 1-800-833-4373 to start planning your group tour today!

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