Ireland's Ancient East

History, Folklore & Fantastic Storytellers

welcome to
Ireland's Ancient East

Visit Ireland's hidden gem

As you explore Ireland’s Ancient East join us in Carlow, a hidden gem on Irelands East coast. You will wander through 5,000 years of incredible history. Explore and experience many magical journeys through Ireland’s Ancient East by visiting some of its best attractions and landmarks. 

From family adventures, quirky experiences and cultural gems Ireland’s Ancient East offers plenty to see and do on a short break or longer holiday. Why not avail of a mid-week or weekend stay at the Woodford Dolmen Hotel and check out all that Ireland’s Ancient East has to offer?

Learn the stories of a place and you’ll come to understand the soul of its people. From ancient high kings to modern-day poets, saints and scholars, Ireland’s Ancient East is vibrating with legendary tales. Prepare for a real-life journey through this mystical place.

St Laserian’s Cathedral & driving route trail

Enjoy a visit to one of Ireland’s finest medieval churches; St Laserian Cathedral. Only a 15 minute drive from our hotel. Located in Old Leighlin, about 15km south of Carlow Town.

St Laserian’s is a wonderful example of a late-12th-century cathedral. The house of worship stands on the site where St Gobban founded the monastery in the 7th century.

Continue your journey and explore the St. Laserian’s self drive route trail, which covers the mid-Carlow area and features a number of sites of national significance.

Visit landmarks such as the exquisite Adelaide Memorial Church with its exuberant decorative work and the Quaker burial grounds at Ballykealey and Ballybrommell and much more.

This self drive route is FREE.

Information, map and details of St Lastrian’s Trail – Driving Route


Carlow county museum

Visit the award winning Carlow County Museum and see what you’re missing! Carlow County Museum is located on College Street in the Cultural Quarter of Carlow Town. Just a 10 minute drive from our hotel and admission is FREE.

Visit the four galleries, and the museum has a wide collection of items and artefact. Why not also visit the Visual Carlow too? As Ireland’s home to Contemporary Art – The Visual is just a 210 metre walk from this attraction.

Carlow County Museum and Tourist Office is opened Monday to Friday, 10.00am – 12.30pm, with last admission at 12 noon; then will re-opens at 2.00pm – 4.30pm, with last admission at 4.00pm.

Pre-booking is an essential requirement, as a time slot must be chosen by visitors. Group sizes are currently limited to 6 people. Book your place by phoning the Museum on 059-9131554 or emailing museum@carlowcoco.ie

Check out the Carlow County Museum website

Brownshil Dolmen

One very unmistakable monument dating back to pre-historical times is the great Brownshill Dolmen the east of Carlow town. Brownshill Dolmen has a granite capstone weighing over 100 tonnes, making it the largest of its kind in Europe.

FREE to visit and drive to this landmark from the hotel in under ten minutes.

The massive capstone rests on two portal stones which flank a door stone and slopes downwards to the west where it rests on a low boulder. Its date of construction has been estimated at between 4,900 and 5,500 years ago and experts believe religious rites were performed at the site.

Located on Hacketstown Road and surrounded by quiet meadows, it’s a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike in Ireland.

More information and directions to Brownshill Dolmen

Huntington Castle and Gardens

Experience Carlow’s very own Huntington Castle, just a 30 minute drive from the hotel. The castle was built in 1625 as a garrison on the strategically important Wexford to Dublin route. After fifty years the soldiers moved out and the family began to convert the castle into a home. The family continue to renovate and restore to the present day. 

A guided tour of the castle takes approximately 40 minutes and brings the history and stories of the castle and its occupants to life. If you are looking for something unusual, deep in the basement of the castle you will find the mysterious Temple of the Goddess. Tours are available everyday May to September, starting at 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm. An adult tour ticket is priced at €12, and €6 per child, family discounts available. 

Be sure to also explore the fantastic gardens which were laid out in the 1680’s by the Esmondes. Explore the world famous yew walk, a highlight which is thought to to be over 500 years old. Tickets cost €6 per adult and €3 per child (this includes entry to the Playground). Gardens are open daily May to September, 10am to 5pm.

Relax and enjoy the tearooms which feature a wealth of choice, from locally baked treats, to gifts and pocket money toys for the kids.

Huntington Castle and Gardens Website

Carlow castle

Carlow Castle is one of the most important Anglo-Norman castles in Ireland. Open to the public on week days only, and FREE to visit. 

Carlow Castle is situated beside the banks of rivers Barrow and Burrin near the centre of Carlow Town. This landmark is only a 10 minute drive from our hotel. 

Carlow Castle is thought to have been built by William de Marshal (Earl of Pembroke and Lord of Leinster between 1207 and 1213) and is similar in design to Ferns Castle in County Wexford. At one time Carlow was an important and strong military fortress, strategically sited at the confluence of the rivers, and the castle withstood repeated attacks in 1494 and 1641.

Today, two battered towers and part of an intervening wall are all that remain after a local physician tried to remodel it as an asylum in 1814.

For more information or to contact Carlow Castle


Take a Great day trip to the tiny city Kilkenny

Kilkenny castle & parklands

You’ll never be short of things to do here and places to explore, with plenty of top attractions for the family to enjoy.

Such as Kilkenny Castle, Parklands & Design Centre which is a 30 minute drive from our hotel. Admission is FREE of charge from 14th May to 31st December 2021.

Few buildings in Ireland can boast a longer history of continuous occupation than Kilkenny Castle. Founded soon after the Norman conquest of Ireland, the Castle has been rebuilt, extended and adapted to suit changing circumstances and uses over a period of 800 years.

It is essential to pre-book tickets online in advance of your visit and all visitors to Kilkenny Castle are required to wear face covering. Self guided tour; Open daily 9.30am – 5.30pm & Kilkenny Castle Park and Garden; Open daily during May, June, July and August 8.30am – 8.30pm.

Kilkenny Castle website

Kilkenny Design Centre

For those interested in crafts, Kilkenny Design Centre is part of the Castle’s Yard built in the 1780’s. The yard houses the National Design and Craft Gallery, one of the most exciting venues in Ireland, and Textures, a new retail space showcasing the best in Irish art, craft and design. Tickets to explore the Kilkenny yard are €10 pp. Available daily, contact 056 77 22118. 

Kilkenny Design Centre website

Explore Carlow

This really is a place you need to explore and enjoy Carlow has a huge amount to offer in history, folklore and with fantastic storytellers dotted around the county ready to tell you a story. Make Woodford Dolmen Hotel is your accommodation hub as you explore Ireland’s Ancient East! We’re surrounded by neighbouring counties with many more wonderful attractions and experiences waiting for you to uncover.