Cappoquin (Co. Waterford / West)
Cappoquin is located in beautiful wooded surroundings below the Knockmealdown Mountains, where the River Blackwater bends at a sharp 90º angle (into the former bed of the River Suir). Nowadays notable mainly for an excellent bakery and teashop, the village’s rich past is refleced in its elegant C19th architecture.
The Market House dates from 1628 (Photo – Cappoquin Community Development Co.)
The handsome six-arched Avonmore Bridge spans the River Blackwater near its junction with the Glenshelane River. The bridge, built as part of local relief works during the Great Famine, replaced an earlier wooden structure first erected c.1620.
The Port of Cappoquin
Cappoquin’s old quayside near the curve in the River Blackwater is all that is left of the Port of Cappoquin, used from the mid C18th by cross-channel ships attended by lighters (load-lightening barges) from Youghal and Tallow.
The construction of the Red Bridge for the new railway in 1870 was the end of the era of tall-masted schooners, but river trade was carried on into the first part of the C20th by steamships. Some, such as the S.S. Dartmouth Castle, a paddle boat ferry between Cappoquin and Youghal, had hinged funnels, while others used the new steamer quay downstream.
It has been suggested that a Maritime Museum should be opened to preserve the history of the Port.
Richmond House, an imposing early C18th edifice, is an attractive place to stay and / or eat. Owner Paul Deevy is one of Ireland’s top chefs, and meals are a treat.
Cappoquin House & Gardens, built in the C18th on the site of an old Geraldine castle, enjoys magnificent views over the river. The riverside bamboo garden is very attractive. Sir Richard Keane‘s family have lived here for over two centuries, filling the mansion with interesting furniture and artefacts.
Glenshelane River Park
Glenshelane River Park, aka Cappoquin Woods, is a lovely Coillte forest beside the Glenshelane River where it meets the Rivers Monavugga and Glenafalla before flowing into the River Blackwater.
The Glenshelane River (Photo by finoshea)
Formerly attached to the Keane properties of Glenshelane House and Belville House (childhood residence of novelist Molly Keane), the “Glen of the Fairies” woods feature pockets of ancient oak, and wild foxgloves, honeysuckle and primroses in season.
Resident fauna include fallow deer, red squirrels, foxes, badgers, hares, rabbits, Irish stoat, pine martins, woodmice, pygmy shrews, long-eared bats and a great variety of birdlife, notably grey herons and wagtails along the riverbanks.
Marked trails provide great views of the Knockmealdown and Galtee Mountains in the distance.
Boola Bridge, 4km north of Cappoquin, is the site of a grotto known locally for unexplained sightings and apparitions.
Mount Melleray Abbey is a working monastery in the Knockmealdown Mountains, founded by Irish Cistercians expelled from an abbey at Melleray in Brittany in 1834, and has a splendid Grotto. The present Abbey was largely constructed from the remains of Mitchelstown Castle in Co. Cork, burnt down by Republican irregulars in 1923. The monks welcome visitors in search of solitude. (Photo – Cappoquin Community Development Co.)
Above Mount Melleray, the County Boundary at the top of Glenafallia between Knocknafallia (2189ft) and Knockanask (1500ft) commands magnificent views over Co. Tipperary.
Cappoquin is at the northern end of the Lower Blackwater Region, a tour of which is highly recommended.
Cappoquin is within easy reach of both Lismore and Clogheen on ByRoute 3, and is also linked by road to Clonmel (Co. Tipperary).
Tourin House & Gardens, the home of the Jameson family of Irish whiskey fame, can only be visited in spring and autumn. The house was designed c.1840 by Abraham Denny for the Musgrave family, using stone from an early Georgian structure built next to the original C17th Roch family Tower House, still standing (foreground). The gardens are beautiful, with mature woodland illuminated by glorious displays of rare azalea, magnolia and rhododendron. The estate straddles the River Blackwater.
Norristown Castle, on the western bank of the River Blackwater. once belonged to Valentine Greatrakes (1629~83), a famous healer who included King Charles II was amongst his patients; aka “The Stroker”, he cured “the King’s evil” (Scrofula) and other diseases by stroking with his hands and by hypnotism and faith healing. He also lived at Affane House, on the other side of the river, reached by a ford known locally as the cooples, used in ancient times by monks on the Bóthar na Naoinmh (“Saints’ Road”) between Lismore and Ardmore Abbeys.
The nearby Famine Graveyard is reputed to be the birthplace of Saint Declan.
Camphire (Co. Waterford / West)
Camphire, at the junction of the River Bride with the River Blackwater, was once an important trading hub in its own right, with quays used over the centuries to load timber and iron ore.
Camphire is the venue for annual international Horse Trials / three day eventing every August.
Camphire House was built by Captain John Ussher, a veteran of the 1704 Battle of Blenheim, whose son St George Ussher St George succeeded him as MP for Carrick-on-Shannon and was created 1st Baron St George, of Hatley St George, Co. Roscommon in 1763, but died in Naples in 1775 without male descent. (Photo –Irish Waterway History)
The current bridge (1975) spanning the River Bride is less attractive than its predecessor, which had an opening span, but is a good spot to observe wildife on the river.
The nearby ruined church at Okyle dates back to the late Middle Ages.
Camphire is within easy reach of Knockanore in the Lower Blackwater Region.