Looking for a truly immersive Irish experience while touring south east Ireland? We've taken a look at 5 must-see experiences in the region known as Ireland's Ancient East.
Capture the essence of Irish history & culture; unearth the stories behind those who emigrated and discover the industries that thrived and became world renowned. Or, sample the locally sourced produce while mingling with the locals. When all is done, youll really get a picture of the forces that have shaped the Ireland we know today.
1. House of Waterford Crystal
When you step inside the blowing room on the Waterford Crystal factory tour, you're first confronted by noise and bustle. This is an atmosphere that has stayed more or less the same since 1783 when the factory opened.
Even today, Waterford Crystal glassware is a prized possession in many households worldwide; displayed with pride on special occasions.
It takes the attention of four highly-trained craftsmen, and their assistants, to produce each piece of crystal. With each glassware expert having achieved 8 years of training, there's a lot of experience poured into this craft.
Further along during the tour, you'll witness glass-blowing, moulding and cutting; not to mention the meticulous inspection that ensures each piece is of the highest standard.
2. Cobh Heritage Centre
Almost 80 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry. From centuries of emigration, the Irish have spread themselves across the globe. The Cobh Heritage Centre is full of these stories. From emigration to the ill-fated Titanic and Lusitania, the exhibits artfully tells the stories of those who left these shores. Be that from famine, in search of better opportunities, or forcibly because of criminal conviction.
For those looking to trace their family history, there is even a resident genealogist. The heritage centre is situated in a beautifully restored Victorian Railway station.
3. The English Market
As the esteemed Rick Stein once said, "the best covered market in the UK and Ireland."
The English Market is a must-see when touring south east Ireland and the city of Cork. It's always bustling with tourists and locals alike. There's a wide variety of food and goods, from locally produced organic fare, to clothes and trinkets.
The stall owners are always helpful & patient and never pushy. Be sure to grab a bite to eat in the restaurants on the first floor, the perfect spot for a bit of people watching.
4. Jameson Experience, Midleton, Co. Cork
Whether youre a whiskey connoisseur, enjoy a little tipple now and then or a history buff, youll find the Jameson whiskey tour a delight. Opening in Dublin over 200 years ago, they moved to Midleton, Co. Cork, in 1975 in order to grow.
The tour includes a short film, and a guided walking tour, led by friendly and informative guides. Everyone on the tour receives the Jameson signature drink - a whiskey, ginger and lime. Pro tip: make sure to volunteer at the end for some Whiskey comparison sampling!
5. Dunbrody Famine Ship
Built in Quebec, the boat in New Ross is an exact replica of the original ship. The year of her launch in 1845 coincided with the Great Irish famine. The mass migration that followed, put a great strain on the limited passenger ships, including the Dunbrody. Hundreds crossed on board the three masted barque from Ireland to New York. Conditions on board, particularly for those in steerage, were pretty bleak.
The exhibition sets out to help you relive what life was like for those who left all behind to face an uncertain future. Dressed in period costume, actors bring to life those who once voyaged across. They even give guests a small part to play in their re-enactment.