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Ireland's Ancient East

Take it all in this Summer with Só Hotels

Explore all that Ireland’s Ancient East has to offer and stay in our conveniently located hotels along the way. Stay at the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise before journeying south to Charleville Park Hotel, county Cork. Enjoy four-star comfort and luxury during your adventures around Ireland’s historical landmarks.

Day 1 - Emo Court, Rock of Dunamaise, Lullymore Heritage Park

15 minutes from the Killeshin Hotel


As you set off on your Ancient East adventures, begin your travels exploring the midlands with a break to The Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise. Easily accessible from the M7, the hotel is located just five minutes from junction 16. From here, there’s so much within easy driving distance to explore. Take a drive to Emo Court & Parklands, just 15 minutes from our doors. Enjoy a walk around the lake and see some of the wide variety of woodland creatures such as the native squirrels! The house itself is steeped in history as one of Ireland’s largest manor houses. Just fifteen minutes from here, you can visit the amazing Rock of Dunamase. Dating back to the ninth century, this impressive structure is of important historical significance to the region. Climb to the top and enjoy some spectacular views of the Laois countryside below. For a fun family afternoon, we strongly recommend a visit to Lullymore Heritage Park, about half an hour from the hotel. Located in the Bog of Allen, find out more about Ireland’s peatlands with a tour through the bogland on the biodiversity boardwalk. Learn about the history of Ireland during the famine and the 1798 rebellion with a stop at their replica Irish cottage and exhibition, 19th century famine soup kitchen, hedge-school and neolithic farmstead. There’s so much for keeping the kids entertained too with a petting farm, playground, indoor play area and 18-hole mini golf course! It’s the perfect destination on your family break to the midlands. When you return to the Killeshin in the evening, why not indulge in a delicious meal in the Cedar Bar and unwind with a cocktail prepared freshly by our team.

Day 2 - Abbeyleix Heritage House, Castlecomer Discovery Park

20 minutes from the Killeshin Hotel


On your second day, there’s still so much more to discover in Ireland’s Ancient East. After a delicious breakfast in the Cedar Rooms Restaurant, set off for Abbeyleix Heritage House where you can learn about the historic town of Abbeyleix in the museum located in the building of the old boys’ national school. Learn about the link the town has to the Titanic and the landlord family that once ruled the area. From there, adventure and family fun await at Castlecomer Discovery Park, just a short drive away. Set across 80 acres of woodland, the park is home to exciting outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy. Choose from Ireland’s longest zip-line, tree-top walk high above the sycamores, archery with trained instructors, canoeing on the lake and even axe throwing! There’s lots for smaller children to try too with their Junior Woodland Adventure Course, Bouncing Net and Elf & Fairy Village. Explore the park with an orienteering session and follow one of the four walking trails through the natural woodland. You can prebook your chosen activities in advance online so you get the most out of your visit. There is a café at the park to enjoy tea or coffee between your activities or we can prepare a picnic basket for you before you leave in the morning so you can enjoy your lunch under the trees! When you return to the hotel, relax and unwind in our Leisure Club. Enjoy a soak in our Jacuzzi and take some time out in our sauna and steam room to rest your muscles after your day of adventure.

Day 3 – National Reptile Zoo, Kilkenny Castle

55 minutes from The Killeshin Hotel


After checking out from the Killeshin Hotel, set off for Kilkenny in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East. Just under an hour’s drive from us, discover this medieval city with a rich history dating back to the 12th century. The city is full of wonderful cafes, restaurants, boutiques and gift shops. A trip to Kilkenny city would not be complete without visiting the impressive Kilkenny  Castle located in the heart of the city on The Parade. Set upon over 50 acres of rolling parkland, visit the remodelled 12th century castle, restored to its previous Victorian splendour. The Castle is home to an extraordinary collection of paintings, tapestries, furniture and objets d’art. Wander through the Ante Room, Drawing Room, Library and Picture Gallery and view the intricate furniture and decorative pieces from a bygone age of wealth and luxury. The estate itself is also a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with mature woodland, manmade lake, terraced rose garden and a large playground for the little ones to enjoy! While you’re in the city, we highly recommend a visit to the National Reptile Zoo, guaranteed to keep the kids entertained! Explore over 50 exhibits including snakes, lizards, iguanas, crocodiles and alligators. Take a tour through the zoo and learn some interesting facts about the exotic reptiles they care for. When you’re ready to head off for the evening, your next stop is just two hours away at Charleville Park Hotel.  Indulge in a delicious dinner to round off your day at the Park Bar.

Day 4 – Ballyhoura, Ballhass Lakes

30 minutes from Charleville Park Hotel


While you’re staying at Charleville Park Hotel, you have to take advantage of being at the heart of Ballyhoura country. The picturesque mountains provide an impressive backdrop to exciting outdoor activities, all available within a short drive of the hotel. There’s something to suit everyone. Try one of the bike trails along the Ballyhoura mountains or take in the scenery with a relaxing walk along with one of the sixteen marked routes along rivers, woodland and rugged mountain trails. If you’re looking for some exciting family fun on the water, look no further than Ballyhass Lakes, Mallow. Try some water activities like kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding or try the sport of wakeboarding with a beginners class in this thrilling sport. A mix of surfing and water-skiing, this is a great option if you’re looking for something a little different! Ballyhass Mallow is also home to Munster’s largest AquaPark, suitable for kids of all ages. There’s plenty to keep you entertained on the land too with archery, axe-throwing, high ropes and a zipline that takes you right over the lake. You can prebook your activities in advance online so you can create your perfect fun family day out! When you return to the hotel in the evening, relax and unwind in our Leisure Club and enjoy a restful night’s sleep in our spacious and comfortable rooms.

Day 5 – Blarney Castle, Cork city

50 minutes from Charleville Park Hotel


After a delicious breakfast in the Greenfinch Restaurant, finish off your Ancient East adventures with a trip to the world famous Blarney Castle. Set on over 60 acres of gardens and woodlands, explore the different walkways and gardens. Visit the variety of themed gardens such as the Fern gardens, Himalayan Walk, the Jungle full of tropical plants and the Poison Garden containing deadly and toxic plants such as wolfsbane and nightshade. Take a stroll by the riverside or lake and discover the caves by the riverbanks. Nearby you’ll find the Rock Close, an ancient druid settlement. Find the amazing historical features such as a dolmen, wishing steps and a witch’s kitchen. Of course, while you’re there, you have to kiss the Blarney Stone and see if the legends are true! It’s said that those who kiss it receive the gift of eloquence. Learn about the folklore surrounding this famous stone. During the summer months, Blarney House is open for guided tours to learn more about this Scottish Baronial mansion dating back to 1874. While you’re in the area, why not visit the Blarney Woolen Mills for some unique souvenir ideas and authentic Irish knitwear. To finish off your Ireland’s Ancient East adventures, take the 15-minute drive into Cork city and take in the sights and sounds of the city streets. Visit the English Market to sample some local food, enjoy delicious food & cocktails in the Victorian quarter, and if you have time, we highly recommend seeing Cork City Gaol. Journey back in time to the 19th century and explore the hallways of cells. Learn about what life was like for the inmates during their imprisonment. The Gaol is also home to the Radio Museum where you can learn about the early years of Irish broadcasting. Radio Eireann began to broadcast Corks’ first radio station, 6CK, in 1927 from the centre of the main building. A wonderful way of finishing off your Ancient East adventures!