If you're avoiding the airport queues and staying at home this summer, Ireland's Ancient East has some fab staycation beauty spots for you and the family. For some alfresco fun with the family this summer - look no further than our top east cost picnic spots!


Loughcrew

Loughcrew is not only the site of the 4000 year old neolithic passage tombs located at Sliabh na Callaí (Hill of the Witch), from where you can get spectacular views of the beautiful Co. Meath, but also has the gem that is Loughcrew House and Gardens, with its quirky gardens and lakeside walks. Park at the house and either picnic in its grounds, or take your supplies to the cairns for a picnic with a view!


Carlingford

Site of St. John's Castle high above the lough, many Watersport activities, dramatic mountain backdrops, beautiful medieval village and the Greenway to Omeath, Carlingford is a great day out for all ages. Great spots to stop for a bite to eat are the many picnic benches along the sea wall in the village, the picnic benches up in Slieve Foye woods, or the many tiny beaches with stunning views along the greenway.


Battle of the Boyne at Oldbridge

This part of the Boyne Valley is steeped in history, not least of all Oldbridge House and Gardens, the site of the infamous Battle of the Boyne in 1692. The house has been restored to its former glory and runs tours and reenactments during the summer. Beloved by locals, it has huge, well tended gardens in front of the house where families spend hours under the many gorgeous old trees, on blankets or one of the many picnic benches. There's tons of space for a game of football or badminton, and lots of walks around the estate, and round by the Boyne Canal. The beautiful boardwalk along the river outside the estate means you can easily walk in and out of nearby Drogheda.


Howth

A lovely place to spend the day, Howth is easily reachable by public transport via the Dart at Howth Junction. There are tons of little eateries and gastropubs all specialising in seafood, with lovely views, little markets, and the marina to explore, but if you're set on finding the perfect picnic spot, there's no better spot than Howth Summit, the breathtaking views of Dublin bay well worth the walk from the village.


Slieve Gullion

A firm favourite with families from North Dublin to Belfast, Slieve Gullion is set on the south side of the Mourne mountains, in between Dundalk and Newry, and has a fantastic playground, cafe and beautiful fairy trail walks up the mountain. Go as high as little legs allow, or simply dawdle and enjoy the mysterious magical sights along the way. The views are fantastic whatever the level, and there's plenty to see and do with ample space for lovely picturesque picnics.

Iveagh Gardens

Still a hidden gem of a garden square in Dublin City, the Iveagh gardens are usually not as crowded as nearby and better known Merrion Square. In the heart of Georgian Dublin, it's a welcome break from hot crowded streets, with lots of cool shady spots, and benches for impromptu picnics. There's tons of smaller events and evening music gigs during the summer months too.


Ardgillen Castle

Hugely popular for families in local north Dublin and Drogheda, Ardgillen's castle is set in massive picturesque grounds which sweep down to the sea. Take a ball, a big picnic, loads of friends, and be prepared to want to camp out all day. The small but super fun playground is very busy, but there's so much else to explore and do in Ardgillen, the kids won't mind if you give it a miss.


Clogherhead

There's nothing like fresh fish and chips from the van at the pier in Clogherhead. The fish shop also sells delicious chowder and with plenty of picnic benches outside, there's loads of room to enjoy the freshest fish around. If you've packed your own picnic, you can camp out on the spectacular rocky outcrops, or even on top of the hill with 360 views of the coastline from Down to Dublin.

May 18, 2022 — Louisa Maher

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