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22nd Sep 2021

6 incredible hidden gems to explore this autumn in Ireland’s Ancient East


Brought to you by Discover Ireland

Ireland is a riot of colour this time of year, with leaves on the trees putting on a final dramatic display before yielding to winter. To make the most of this short but sweet season, head to the many gardens, parklands and forest parks for some of the finest leaf-peeping in the country.

Need some destination inspiration? Here are some awesome autumnal experiences that will make you fall in love with Ireland’s Ancient East.

Slane Castle, Co Meath

Slane Castle is situated in the heart of the Boyne Valley, on a green bank with the River Boyne flowing below. It is an incredibly scenic setting. Love music? Then strut around The Concert Field Walk, which meanders through mature woodland where birdsong and babbling streams provide the soundtrack before opening up to a wonderful view of the back of the Castle.

Continue on to the iconic Meeting Tree, a magnificent Spanish chestnut where separated friends reunite at the legendary concerts. This time of year the leaves melt into shades of butter yellow and golden bronze before quivering to the ground.

Castletown House & Parklands, Co Kildare

At this time of year, Castletown House and the surrounding parklands seem to take a leaf out of the American Fall foliage notebook. With over 60 tree species, including Wellingtonia over 30 meters tall and oak over 300 years old, Castletown House & Parklands is simply spectacular.

A unique way to enjoy the autumn colours is on the Harry Potter Inspired Tree Trail. Begin on Lime Tree Avenue and have fun identifying weeping willows, yew, fir and ash trees all with a connection to the schoolboy wizard.

Rossmore Forest Park, Co Monaghan

Get your fall fix at the resplendent Rossmore Forest Park, located just 3km outside Monaghan town. The park has six looped walks among its lakes and forests of towering trees.

Looking up, the Sierra or giant redwoods seem to touch the sky, their warm autumn colours shimmering in the sunshine. There’s also an avenue of beautiful, old gnarled yew trees. This stretches almost 500 meters from the walled garden to the graveyard. In autumn, when it is ablaze with colour, it is one of the most romantic walks in the country. The Giants Sculpture Trail is one of the park’s newest features, and a stroll along here is an absolute must on any visit to Rossmore. One of the park’s must-visit hidden gems is the playground, so be sure to give it a visit if you’re travelling with kids.

Altamont Gardens, Co Carlow

Pack a picnic and make your way to the Altamont Gardens in Tullow and enjoy a few hours of peace and serenity surrounded by nature. The Altamont Gardens are a marvellous mix of formal and informal gardens. There’s an elegant avenue of sculpted yews that lead down to a lake encircled by rare trees.

Stretch your legs on the riverside walk flanked by ancient oak trees and make your way through the Arboretum with foliage a tremulous arrangement of fiery reds and glistening golds this time of year.

Mount Usher Gardens, Co Wicklow

Wander through groves and glades along the banks of the River Vartry at Mount Usher Gardens in Ashford. Here you can bask in the joy of nature surrounded by over 5,000 species of plants. Each season is a cacophony of colour, but autumn is the most brilliant.

Pretty red toadstools adorn the ground and the Maple Trees and Golden Larch are afire with colours from the lightest yellow to the deepest burgundy. The star of the season, however, is the Sweet Gum tree which shows off its whole gaunt of colours. Prepare for a vibrant spectacle of oranges, reds and purples. 

Slieve Bloom Mountains, Co Offaly & Laois

With so much colour and flora and fauna around, autumn is a marvellous time to visit the Slieve Bloom Mountains. The trails lead into woodlands of ash, beech, hazel, holly, oak, Scots pine and Douglas fir.

Hints of the season are all around, including ripe blackberries. Go on, pick some and enjoy the quintessential taste of autumn in Ireland. Surrounded by a multicoloured palette of leaves against a crisp blue sky. It’s all incredibly idyllic and immensely enjoyable.

Capacity restrictions may be in place at visitor attractions, sites and restaurants so you are encouraged to book ahead to avoid disappointment. The Leave No Trace principles help us make as little an impact as possible on the incredible Irish landscape as we explore the outdoors this autumn and beyond. Keep outdoor areas safe, clean and free from waste/hazards, and help protect the natural environment. Love this place, leave no trace.

Brought to you by Discover Ireland