About 18km (11 miles) southeast of Kilkenny, this atmospheric Cistercian monastery dates from the 12th century. Highlights of the ethereal ruins, which are preserved in a peaceful country setting, include a sculptured cloister arcade, Romanesque architecture in the north nave, and unique stone carvings on the medieval tombs (some of which supposedly have traces of original paint on them, but we’ve never been able to find it). The staff is quite friendly and knowledgeable about the local area. Ask for details of where to find the mysterious, ghostly ruins of the Church of the Long Man, about 16km (10 miles) away. If you’re lucky, they’ll be able to direct you—it’s very hard to find otherwise, and a local secret you may find yourself sworn to keep. Tip: If you’re here in spring or autumn, plan your visit toward the end of the day. Wandering around these ancient places as the setting sun blushes the walls in peach and gold is an unforgettable experience.