Days Out in......BALLYHOURA COUNTRY
Situated in the Shannon Region of Ireland, on the borders of counties Limerick, Cork and Tipperary, the Ballyhoura Country is an area of undulating green pastures, woodlands and rolling hills. A haven of beauty and tranquillity, where the pace of life is slow, it offers the discerning holiday maker the chance to re-discover quality living like it used to be, from the people of the Ballyhoura area; to explore the many historic monuments and visitor centres and participate in the wide range of sporting activities on offer in the area. Ballyhoura is also a central location for touring the whole south-west of Ireland, situated close to thriving towns and cities which offer a variety of entertainment and shopping alternatives, and less than one hour from countless sandy beaches and coastal resorts.
Come to Ballyhoura and let your imagination escape from the everyday humdrum to one or more of the area's unique attractions. Whether you're travelling by coach, car or bike, and out for an afternoon, a day or a week, you are always within easy reach of an experience that will take you to another world!
And this is truly another world! A world where you can cruise through centuries in a day, taking in striking Stone Age monuments, a variety of museums as well as some tranquil parks and gardensp; a world where hospitality is very real indeed, going beyond the realms of your aspirations and expectations to take on a whole new meaning; a world where the little pleasures of sharing everyday things with the locals of Ballyhoura - talking with them, walking with them and sharing a joke - is possibly the greatest attration of all!
The intriguing story of the Ballyhoura Country is about to unfold itself before you. So prepare for take-off as your mind embarks on the trip of a lifetime!
ANNESGROVE GARDENS - M, A, D, F.
A feast for the senses awaits you as at Annesgrove Gardens, a famous Robinsonian Garden, covering an area of some twelve hectares, and renowned for its magnificent shrubs, rhododendrons and azeleas. Originally planned and set by the Annesely family some three centuries ago, it is a place where time stands still, making it a living memento to the enchanting elegance of days gone by, and an ideal venue for leisurely strolls and picnics with someone special.
CROOM MILLS, WATERWHEEL AND HERITAGE CENTRE
A, B-50, C, D, E, F, G.
In Croom, you can come and live the story of an Irish country mill from the glorious days of its success to its demise in the 1940's, and make the acquaintance of the Catholic landed gentry family who built it, the local community who worked and supplied it, and the bakers who made bread from the flour milled there. Try milling yourself the traditional way!
de VALERA MUSEUM AND BRUREE HERITAGE CENTRE:
O, A, C, D, E, F, G.
A leisurely browse around the de Valera museum and Bruree Heritage Centre will serve as a lesson in both the political history of Ireland and the local history of a small Irish village. Dedicated to Eamon de Valera [1882-1975], former President of Ireland and one of the country's most famous statesmen, it houses a unique collection of personal belongings of this historic figure, as well as a wide range of articles which record life in Bruree in the early 20th century.
DONERAILE COURT AND WILDLIFE PARK:
O, A, B-50, D, F.
It has the shape of an estate where beauty and the landlord's pleasure were the guiding principles, rather than utility and profit. Preserving the grandeur known and enjoyed by the landed gentry in Ireland in times past, it is a magnificent tribute to God, to nature and to man's creativity. Covering an area of 160 hectares, it boasts one of the finest collections of old oaks in the country as well as various species of deer and birds. Points of architectural interest include the Georgian Doneraile Court, home to the St. Leger family until 1969, the portico gate lodge and the "Hunting Bridge".
IRISH DRESDEN WORKSHOP & SHOWROOMS:
M, E, F.
Established in Dromcollogher by Oskar and Johanna Saar following the destruction of the Mueller Volkstedt porcelain workshop in Germany during the Second World War, a visit to the Irish Dresden Workshop and Showrooms in Drumcollogher is a unique opportunity to appreciate the finer things in life. Combining one of Germany's most famous traditions with the best of Irish workmanship, you can experience the creation of the delicate Irish Dresden figurines first hand, and can take advantage of the great value for money in Irish Dresden on offer in the showrooms nearby.
KILMALLOCK MUSEUM AND HISTORIC TOWN TRAIL:
O, C, F.
Follow in the footsteps of men and women from the Middle Ages and set out on the self-guided Historic Town Trail through the narrow streets of Kilmallock. A good start is the Kilmallock Museum, housed in a 19th century town cottage, which serves as an introduction to the heritage of the mediaeval fortress town, noted for its imposing gates, as well as its fine 12th century Collegiate Church and Dominican Priory.
LOUGH GUR HERITAGE CENTRE:
M, A, C, D, E, F, G.
Nestling along the peaceful lakeside shores of Lough Gur is an archaeological gem of great international significance, which includes the remains of stone circles and standing stones, as well as ancient burial chambers and cairns erected up to five thousand years ago. At the Lough Gur Heritage Centre their meaning is brought home to visitors through interpretive panels and audio visual means, serving as a reminder of the ingenuity of "primitive" man.
NATIONAL CO-OPERATIVE DAIRY CENTRE:
O, A, B-50, C, D, E, F, G.
Learn more about the history of dairying in Ireland, and the economical and social implications which the establishment of the Co-Operative Movement brought about in this country on a visit to the National Co-Operative Dairy Centre in Drumcollogher. Located in the country's first co-operative creamery, it has been faithfully restored to preserve the atmosphere and character of a Co-Op Dairy in Ireland at the turn of the century - complete with a working steam engine, boiler and milk vats from the time - and dedicated to the Founder of the Movement in Ireland, Horace Plunkett.
SPRINGFIELD CASTLE DEER CENTRE:
M, A, B-50, C, D, E, F.
Welcome to the charming old world of the Springfield Castle Estate, home to the Sykes family and to their six-hundred-head herd of deer. With its especially designed and constructed trailer, visitors are taken on a guided tour of the deer farm, where children can feed and pat down the different species which they meet en route. History of the evolution of the deer and of deer farming in Ireland is presented on attractive interpretive panels; with attractive woodland walks, picnic areas and a children's playground, the Springfield Deer Castle Centre has something for everyone.
M, A, D, F.
Discovered in 1833 the Mitchelstown Caves are amongst the finest Limestone caves in Europe, extending over an area about 16 kms long and 5 kms wide, between Cahir and Mitchelstown. A haven of mystery and intrigue, it is a chilling and exciting place for visitors and explorers alike. Up to one km deep, the showcave boasts some spectacular stalagmite and stalactite formations; the Tower of Babel, standing 10 metres high, is a wondrous sight and a timeless tribute to the power and wonder of nature.
BALLYLANDERS WILDLIFE BOG:
O, C, F.
Ballylanders Wildlife Bog is situated at Griston Bog on the west side of Ballylanders village. It is home to a wide range of flora and fauna now in danger of extinction in many parts of the world. To faciltate easy viewing of the park, a special wooden walkway has been put in place, which visitors can use as they guide themselves through this peaceful peatland with the help of the informative interpretive boards.
BALLYHOURA MOUNTAIN PARK:
O, C, F.
This is a natural park of woodland, rugged mountain, grouse moor and peat bog, which covers an area of approx. 10,000 hectares. With its abundance of beautiful trees and plants, it is an ideal venue for nature trails and birdwatching. Thanks to its marked walking routes, visitors can fully enjoy its peace and beauty at leisure, or at a more lively pace along the fitness and orienteering trails if preferred.
KILFINANE EDUCATION CENTRE GARDENS:
O, C, F.
A haven of peace tucked away within a hive of activity, the Kilfinane Education Centre Gardens bear witness to the skill of the gardeners at whose hands this impressive landscape was moulded, covering an area of approx. 1 hectare, the gardens are classical in style and dominated by a fountain feature. Noted for its fine roses in season, the abundant colourful plants and rolling greens combine to provide a perfect place for croquet, bowling or simply sitting back and enjoying the spectacular surroundings. In addition to the Day visitor attractions listed above there are over ten working farms in the Ballyhoura Country which welcome visitors, each one specialising in a different type of agriculture. Please call Ballyhoura Country Holidays - Reservations, to request our separate brochure on Ballyhoura Country Farm Visits, free of charge.
KEY TO SYMBOLS
- O = Open year round
- M = Open May - September
- (N.B. Group bookings by arrangement at any time)
- A = Admission charge applicable
- B = Tea room / restaurant on premises, and details of capacity
- C = Interpretive panels
- D = Toilet facilities
- E = Souvenir shop on premises
- F = Car parking available
- G = Audio - visual presentation
OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST TO VISIT ARE:
BLACKWATER HERITAGE [Mallow Area]
Discover the wealth of historical and other features when you drive into the Blackwater Triangle - there's no mystery to it, just amazement at how much there is to see!
TOUR A - Centered on Doneraile / Buttevant
1] DONERAILE WILDLIFE PARK
Formerly the St.Leger demesne, this 400 acre park is now controlled by the Wildlife Service of the Office of Public Works. It contains fine old woods, open grassland, formal ponds and a rich variety of flora and fauna. The Awbeg river flows through the estate. Three species of deer - Red, Fallow and Sika, together with a herd of Irish red deer. Plans are under way to develop a nature park where animals indigenous to Ireland, such as fox, badger, otter and wild pig, etc., will be seen. [Open in the public]
2] DONERAILE COURT
This Georgian mansion overlooks the park and was once the home of the St.Leger family. This is leased by the Public Works to the Irish Georgian Foundation, who will restore it and this work is continuing. It was here that Elizabeth St.Leger was made a Freemason in 1712, the only Irish lady to become a Freemason. [Tea Rooms only open to public]
3] ST. MARY'S CHURCH
The Church of Ireland in Doneraile was built by the St. Leger family in 1630; the present building was erected in 1816. The church tower has a peal of six bells. Many of the St. Legers are buried in the nearby graveyard. Mary's steeple was the finishing point for a cross-country horse race in 1752, from the steeple in Buttevant to the steeple in Doneraile, a distance of four and a half miles. This event originated the racing term "Steeplechase".
4] BUTTEVANT CASTLE/BARRY'S CASTLE
This was built by the Norman family Barry in the 13th century; it was then taken by Lord Deputy Sir Henry Sidney in 1568, but was then regained by the Barrys. This was held until early 19th century until it was sold to a John Anderson, who made a number of alterations but never completed his plans. The ruins look over the Awbeg river. Access is gained through the Protestant churchyard or from Mill Lane.
TOUR B - Centered on Castletownroche / Killavullen
1] BALLYMACMOY HOUSE & CAVES
Ancestral home of the Hennessy family. There is an extensive cave network beneath the house, these are now open to the public - enquiries to be made at the house. Richard Hennessy started making brandy in Cognac, France, in the 18th century and now the Hennessy name is known far and wide.
2] BRIDGETOWN ABBEY
Situated at the confluence of the Blackwater and Awbeg Rivers this was a Priory for Canons Regular of St. Augustine, founded in 1214 by the Roches. Norman sandstone mouldings can be seen here, amongst later limestone renovations. A town and bridge once existed nearby. Kilcummer viaduct is visible from the Abbey, spanning the Awbeg River; the Mallow to Waterford railway line formerly ran across this bridge. [Accessible]
3] CASTLETOWNROCHE/BLACKWATER VALLEY CASTLE HOTEL
This castle/hotel is beautifully situated overlooking the Awbeg river. The castle was built in the 13th century by the Roches, a Norman family, until 1650 when the castle was attacked and besieged by Cromwellian forces. The damaged castle was given to Lieutenant Colonel John Widenham, and the castle renamed Castle Widenham, most of which was rebuilt as we see today. The castle is now a hotel, the tower being part of the original structure.
4] ANNESGROVE GARDENS
One of Ireland's great arboreal gardens. Within the grounds is a fine 18th century Country House, woodland and walled gardens, and a varied collection of rhododendrons, rare trees and shrubs. [The gardens are open to the public, the house is private].
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