These pages describe ByRoute 3 between the Vee Road from Clogheen (Co. Tipperary / South) and Drimoleague (Co. Cork / West).
Lismore (Co. Waterford / West)
Lismore (Lios Mór – “Great Enclosure”) (pop. 1200), an exceptionally attractive town on the River Blackwater, in the southern foothills of the Knockmealdown Mountains, has a strong community spirit, an active social / sport scene, a great musical tradition, and good pubs, eateries and accommodation options.
Lismore town centre. (Photo – www.studyflight.ru)
Lismore was once the site of an an important monastic university, founded in 636 AD by Saint Carthage, aka Saint Mochuda. It reached its zenith in the C8th but was repeatedly sacked (on at least one occasion by men from Ossory) and eventually razed by the Vikings. Despite this, Lismore remained an ecclesiastical centre of importance until the C16th.
The present town, like nearby Dungarvan, was largely laid out in the late C18th and C19th by successive Dukes of Devonshire, who imported cut Portland stone from Chatsworth, the principal Ducal estate in Derbyshire, to construct the principal public buildings and landmarks.
Lismore Castle was founded by Prince John in 1185 on the site of the former Abbey (where his father, King Henry II, stayed in 1171) and has a fascinating history.
An Episcopal residence for several centuries, it was acquired by Sir Walter Raleigh, who sold it to Richard Boyle, subsequently the 1st Earl of Cork, whose fourteenth child Robert Boyle, the eminent scientist of Boyle’s Law fame, was born here in 1627.
Besieged and severely damaged by Lord Castlehaven‘s Kilkenny Confederacy troops in 1645, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, the Castle was susequently restored by Richard Boyle, 2nd Earl of Cork and 1st Earl of Burlington. However, the Boyle family did not take up permanent residence. King James II stayed in the Castle briefly during his flight into exile after the 1690 Battle of the Boyne.
In 1748, Lady Charlotte Boyle, Baroness Clifford, only surviving daughter and heiress of Richard Boyle, 4th Earl of Cork and 3rd Earl of Burlington, the noted Georgian architect, married William Cavendish, who became the 4th Duke of Devonshire in 1755, and served briefly as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and titular Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Their son William, 5th Duke of Devonshire, employed the Cork – born architect Thomas Ivory to carry out improvements at Lismore. His son, William George Spencer Cavendish, commonly known as the Bachelor Duke, largely designed the early C19th town, and also had the Castle totally remodelled by William Atkinson and later Sir Joseph Paxton, with contributions from AW Pugin.
Reconstruction work at the Castle in 1814 brought to light the C11th Lismore Crozier and the C15th Book of Lismore, aka the Book of Mac Cartagh Riabhach (an account of various saints’ lives and Marco Polo’s travels), both now kept in the NMI.
The castle (together with considerable amounts of land) is now the property of Peregrine Andrew Mornay Cavendish, 12th Duke of Devonshire, who resides here with his family for part of every year.
Famous guests have included Hollywood film star Fred Astair, whose elder sister Adele (née Austerlitz) lived here with her husband Lord Charles Cavendish, the 9th Duke‘s second son, until he died after a long illness in 1944, aged 39; she continued to use the castle ocasionally until shortly before her own death in 1981. Kathleen Kennedy, sister of future American President John F Kennedy, was married to the 10th Duke‘s eldest son William John Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, killed in 1944 in WWII action, aged 27.
Lismore Castle Gardens are open to visitors. These beautiful gardens, probably the oldest in Ireland, are of great historical interest. Edmund Spencer is said to have found inspiration here for his masterpiece, the Faerie Queen. The conservatory was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton. There is also a permanent display of contemporary Sculptures in the Garden. Delicious Devonshire cream teas are served on crested china in the former chapel. (Photo by Liam Hughes)
The Castle’s formerly derelict West Wing, sensitively restored, now houses the interesting Castle Art Gallery, which hosts major travelling exhibitions and occasional Public Talks. The gallery is run by the 12th Duke‘s eldest son William, the current Lord Burlington.
The Castle Courtyard is sometimes used for open-air theatre productions.
Lismore Castle is not otherwise open to the general public, although some rooms can be rented at certain times of year for functions; the High Gothic Banquet Hall seats up to 75 diners. Parties of up to 23 can book luxurious accomodation facilities when the Duke’s family is not in residence.
St. Carthage’s Cathedral (CoI) was founded c.12o7, but the present edifice dates from 1639. It was partially remodelled c.1820 by Sir Richard Morison, and the graceful spire, much admired by William Thackeray, was added by the Pain Brothers in 1827. The graceful interior contains some ancient tombstones, a unique McGrath family monument (1486), and a beautiful pre-Raphaelite stained glass window designed by Edward Burne-Jones, depicting Justice and Humility honouring Francis Curry, a nearly forgotten hero who did much to relieve suffering during the Great Famine.
The old Workhouse and Famine graveyard are grim reminders of mid-C19th poverty, starvation and disease in the area, which suffered a massive reduction in population between 1845 and 1850.
St Carthage’s parish church (RC), a fine C19th Lombardo-Romanesque building, largely the creation of Dublin-born Walter Doolin, was completed in 1884. The church contains some interesting Celtic Revival features, notably a set of stained glass windows commemorating saints associated with Lismore – the C12th reformer Saint Malachy (the first Irish saint to be canonised), Saint Cathaldus (patron saint of Taranto in Italy), Saint Colman, and (with contemporary picture of the Castle) Saint Carthage / Mochuda.
Lismore Bridge spans the River Blackwater at the junction with its tributary Abh na Shead. A ferry used to cross the river at this point until 1775, when the 5th Duke of Devonshire commissioned the bridge from Thomas Ivory. Partially destroyed by floods in 1853, it was rebuilt to the original elegant design.
Lismore Canal, dug in 1793 to link Lismore with navigable reaches of the River Blackwater further downstream, was in occasional use as late as 1922 (when the railways were severely disrupted by IRA activities) and is still partially accessible to small boats.
Lismore Railway Station was opened in 1872 for the Fermoy – Lismore railway extension and later the Waterford, Dungarvan and Lismore Line, the most scenic and expensive stretch of track in Ireland, known locally as ‘The Duke’s Railway’ after its Chairman and main shareholder. A plaque commemorates the 1904 visit to Lismore of King Edward VII and his long-suffering Danish wife Queen Alexandra, who were received everywhere they went on their Irish tour with rapturous enthusiasm. The last train passed through in 1967. Part of the impressive complex is now used as a Centre for Traditional Skills.
Lismore Heritage Centre, occupying the imposing old Town Hall / Courthouse, has multi-media displays providing fascinating insights into local history, including a permanent exhibition devoted to Robert Boyle. The centre also contains a 130-seat Theatre and conference facilities, a Craft Shop and a tourism information point.
The Monument was erected in 1872 in memory of Archdeacon Ambrose Power, reputedly much loved for his generosity.
The Millennium Park in the town centre and Lady Louisa’s Walk along the river are both pleasant places to stroll.
Lismore is the home of international travel-writer Dervla Murphy.
The annual Immrama – Lismore Festival Of Travel Writing is held every June.
Lismore House Hotel, built in 1797 to provide extra guest accommodation for the Castle, claims to have been first purpose built hotel in Ireland, and has accommodated many famous guests during its long history.
O’Brien Chop House, run by Justin & Jenny Green of Ballyvolane House, is probably the best restaurant in Lismore.
Lismore is close to Cappoquin and Tallowbridge on ByRoute 2.
Ballyrafter House Hotel, an attractive country house, was built in the early 1800’s for the Duke Of Devonshire’s estate. Set in a wooded demesne in the foothills of the Knockmealdown Mountains, the hotel is popular with locals for its snug pub and admirable restaurant, and also offer excellent facilities for anglers.
Ballysaggartmore Towers, aka Kiely’s Folly, must be the most bizarre gatehouse in Europe. The weird structure was built in 1850 by the much hated local landlord Arthur Kiely-Ussher at the urging of his socially ambitious wife, who was envious of his brother’s Strancally Castle – in her view, the Grand Lodges (1834) were not imposing enough. The towers were not the only part of the magnificent pile planned, but money ran out soon after their completion, and the Kiely-Ussher family was then forced to reside in a modest house on the grounds (since demolished). For many years their name was used to frighten small children in the area. The towers provide a fairy tale backdrop to a pleasant woodland walking and picnic area.(Photo – IrishFireside)
St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn is the only modern community of Cistercian nuns in Ireland. The main building was constructed on the site of Ballygarron Castle between 1695 and 1704 by Richard Gumbleton of Kent, who named it Castle Richard; his grandson Richard had the mansion remodelled in 1795, and it was renamed Glencairn Abbey by his son Richard, who died unmarried in 1819 on the Aegean island of Scio. The property passed to his elder sister Lavinia and her husband Amyas Bushe, whose descendants sold it to the Cistercians in 1926. The convent was badly damaged by fire in 1973. The beautiful grounds contain a very elegant church and a small guesthouse for women on retreat.
The Glencairn Inn, run by Fiona and Stéphane Tricot, offers charming old world B&B accommodation and exceptionally good food and wine at the award winning Pastis French Bistro.
Ballyduff & Mocollop (Co. Waterford / West)
Ballyduff, a well-appointed village with an architecturally striking Garda barracks and a bridge spanning the River Blackwater, best known for its superb fishing facilities, is home to a very lively performing arts community.
Ballyduff Comhaltas is very active in promoting traditional music and dancing.
The Booley House, a unique form of entertainment held in Saint Michael’s Hall on Wednesday evenings during the summer months, showcases the talents of local performers of all ages in music, song, dance, storytelling and drama. Tea and cakes are served at your table. Afterwards the audience usually joins the cast in a local pub.
Ballyduff Castle, on the exceptionally scenic riverside Lismore-Fermoy road, was erected in 1628 by Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork.
Mocollop is remarkable mainly for its name, the etymology of which is unknown. An 1834 article in the Dublin Penny Journal extravagantly described it as “one of the prettiest landscapes which imagination can convey to the mind“.
Mocollop Castle, an Anglo Norman stronghold low down on the northern bank of the River Blackwater, was where James FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Desmond, died in 1462. It was reduced by Oliver Cromwell‘s artillery in 1649 to a picturesque ruin.
It is thought that the elevated site of Mocollop’s ruined medieval church (CoI until c.1910) and cemetery may have been used for early Christian worship.
Tubbernahulla (Tobber na h’Ulla – “Well of Penance / the Oils”) is the location of a Holy Well undoubtedly dating from Druidic times, now dedicated to Saint Michael. Beside it there is a “petition bush” / wishing tree, usually with rags tied to various branches.
Ballyduff is not far from Tallow on ByRoute 2.
Araglin / Araglen
The Araglin / Araglen River gives it name to a valley, village and bridge in a rather lovely but ill-defined district between the Knockmealdown Mountains and the Kilworth Hills, astride the borders of Counties Cork, Waterford, and Tipperary. Alhough the countryside now appears unspoilt, the area has a strong tradition of iron smelting. (Photo by Cormaic 1902)
The Araglin Animal Shelter provides accommodation for abandoned animals, some quite exotic, until new homes are found for them.
The Araglen Carnival, a week-long celebration held annually towards the end of July, is one of the longest-running events of its kind in Europe, with over 50 editions to date.
Araglin village contains some interesting modern thatched houses.
Araglin village is