Deep - but not too deep - in the Kilkenny countryside lies Jerpoint Park, one of our favourite little stop-offs. It seems to encapsulate everything that you want in an Irish tourist attraction.
Jerpoint Park is a working farm home to grazing sheep but rather surprisingly also boasting the historically significant ruins of an abandoned 12th century town aaaand the supposed tomb of St Nicholas of Myra, AKA the inspiration for Santa Claus. Even with this last potentially tacky titbit this is somehow a classy visit which is some achievement. And it's the whole package that sets this above the usual farm visit ilk.
The heritage tour is excellent and they have garnered a lot of information, especially from the cemetery and the tombs. The tour guide is obviously very interested in the archaeological discovery on his land - wouldn't you be? - and this comes across well in the tours.
Enjoy the Irish countryside which stretches out before you, chat with the friendly local land owners, tour a unique set of ruins, experience a sheepdog demonstration and get the all-important tea and scones. What more does one want in life?
It's also a new enough attraction and far enough off the beaten path that it's still quite quiet (as long as you don't arrive at the same time as a coach tour) which gives Jerpoint Park a serene atmosphere. If you arrive during the week then there's a good chance you might even get a private tour.
This is a really convenient visit less than ten minutes off the M5 motorway connecting Dublin, Kilkenny and Waterford. Just down the road is Jerpoint Abbey which is separate visit altogether and honestly the fairly generic ruins of Jerpoint Abbey are the lesser of the two.
Photos with thanks to: Roselinde Bon, Becki Enright & Lola Akinmade Åkerström