Ancient East trail to boost tourism
Tourism chiefs are expecting a fifth more visitors to flock to Ireland's eastern counties with the launch of a historic trail through some of the country's oldest landmarks.
The Ireland's Ancient East initiative has been drawn up to rival the west coast's Wild Atlantic Way, which has been hailed a huge success since it was officially launched last year.
The tour will span several counties stretching from Newgrange and the Boyne Valley in the north east, through the midlands, to Kilkenny's Medieval Mile, Waterford's Viking Quarter and on to Cork.
Along the journey, tourists will travel through attractions from four distinct periods charting over 5,000 years of Irish history.
Tourism Minister Paschal Donohoe said the trail would match the Wild Atlantic Way.
"With the great amount of history and heritage in such a relatively compact area, Ireland's Ancient East will allow us to seriously build on the assets we have in the east and south - and the significant investment which has been made in tourism attractions in the region over the last few years," he said.
"While appealing to a different type of a visitor, I am confident that Ireland's Ancient East will prove as effective and popular as the Wild Atlantic Way and will deliver significant additional numbers of visitors, revenue and jobs to the region".
Ancient Ireland will be showcased through prehistoric sites like Newgrange and the Brownshill dolmen in Carlow; the early Christian period at the likes of Clonmacnoise, Glendalough and Mellifont Abbey.
Trim Castle, Hook Head lighthouse and the Rock of Cashel will represent the medieval times, while Anglo Ireland will be seen at a number of the great houses and gardens from the period.
Failte Ireland believes the newly-branded tourism region can bring 600,000 more overseas visitors - a rise of 20% - to the east of Ireland.
This would mean a 950 million euro (£687 million) boost to the economy over the next five years, it claims, with a knock-on increase in jobs.