Last week I got a copy of Ireland’s Ancient East. A Guide to its Historic Treasures written by Neil Jackman.
The is a guide-book that covers over 100 sites located within the area of Bord Fáilte’s new Ancient East which includes the counties of Louth Monaghan, Cavan, Longford, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare, Offaly, Laois, Carlow, Wicklow, Kilkenny Tipperary, Wexford, Waterford and parts of East Limerick and Cork.
I must confess a copy of the old Shell Guide to Ireland published in 1967 lives in my car but I will now have to make room for Ireland’s Ancient East guidebook.
I must say I love this book and I can see myself using it a lot when visiting historic sites within the aforementioned counties. The book covers a wide range of sites ranging from 19th Century Historic Houses, medieval church sites to passage tombs. Some of the sites are well-known such as Clonmacnoise, Newgrange and the Rock of Cashel, but the author also includes equally impressive but lesser known sites such as Athassel Abbey near Golden in Co Tipperary and the Gaulstown Dolmen in Waterford.
As a guide-book the information for each site is researched to a high standard and the author hits the right balance between providing detailed historical information on of each site without overloading the reader with too much information. It also provides useful information about parking, clear directions and the location of the nearest town.
Last Saturday I took the book with me when visiting Lismore Castle in Co Waterford. I was able to sit in Lismore Castle gardens and read a concise history of the development of Lismore from its origins as an Early Medieval monastic settlement to its development into a Anglo Norman centre and later an estate town. It also alerted me to other sites within the town such as Lismore Cathedral.
The book also includes a very nice entry on one of my favourite sites and one of the best kept secrets of Co Waterford a place called The Towers at Ballysaggartmore located a few miles from Lismore on the Ballyduff-Lismore road.
The “Towers” are two ornate entrance lodges one of which is also a bridge that are situated on the former Ballysaggartmore Demesne commissioned by Arthur Kiely Ussher, one of the most hated men in 19th century Waterford.
This book would make a great present for anyone interested in exploring the Irish countryside. If you want to pick up a copy of the books its available in most large bookshops and on line at Amazon and Collins Press. It is also for sale at a discount on the Collins Press Website.
Useful web addresses