Blarney Castle /
Gunpowder Mills and Kinsale
The Lakes of Killarney
The Ring of Kerry
Tralee and Dingle
SHIPS, LIONS and WHISKEY
How to Get There
This Day Trip is centered on 3 locations; Cobh, Fota Wildlife Park and the Jameson Heritage Centre in Midleton.
Cobh (pronounced "cove") has for centuries been associated with the sea. Located within Cork Harbour - one of the finest natural harbours in the world, it was a British naval base until 1937. It was renamed Queenstown in 1849 at the time of a visit by Queen Victoria, before reverting to its original name this century. It is from here that over 2.5 million Irish people emigrated around the world, many to the USA. During the Napoleonic Wars in the 1800's, hundreds of sailing vessels could be seen at a time in the harbour. When trans-Atlantic travel became more popular in the latter part of the last century and up to today, Cobh was/is a stopping point for many of the worlds greatest ocean liners including the QE II. The Sirius, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic from East, sailed from Cobh in 1838. Cobh was the last port of call of the ill-fated Titanic in 1912.
Today the town with its uniquely preserved Victorian architecture is dominated by the magnificent St. Colman's Cathedral. Places to visit include:
Cobh, The Queenstown Story, The Lusitania Memorial, Old Yacht Club and Cobh Museum. Cobh is also ideal for those who enjoy watersports such as sailing and windsurfing.
There is also some fine accomodation, restaurants and evening entertainment in Cobh.
Just a few miles from Cobh on the Cork road is Fota Wildlife Park. Covering over 40 acres of grassland, Fota is one of the most modern wildlife parks in Europe. The animals are not kept behind bars or obvious barriers, yet visitors can roam the park in total safety. Among the animals and birds kept there are; giraffe, zebras, antelope, ostrich, monkeys, flamingos and penguins. Kangaroos, macaws and lemurs have complete freedom of the park. Fota's primary function is the conservation and breeding of endangered species and it is the world's leader in breeding cheetahs.
There is also an arboretum at Fota which contains many trees and shrubs found from the Himalayas to South America. A fine 18 hole golf course is also located at Fota.
Amenities include signposted walks, picnic benches, coffee and souvenir shops. Fota is open from April to October.
Returning to the main Cork / Waterford Road (N25) and driving approx 8 miles (13 Km), to the East is the town of Midleton. Midleton is best known for its distillery, where some of the best Irish whiskeys and spirits are produced, including "Paddy" and "Jameson". A visit to The Jameson Heritage Centre is must for all whiskey connoisseurs. Discover how whiskey has been made over the years and you could win a "Whiskey Diploma" testing your whiskey tasting expertise. A complimentary glass of Jameson whiskey is given to all visitors over the age of 18.
Midleton is a prosperous market town which developed from a 12th century monastery. The main street is wide with colourful shops. Just a few miles South of Midleton is the Trabolgan Holiday Village.
Click on the following for details of accomodation, restaurants and evening entertainment in Midleton.
How to Get There
This Day trip again is centered on 3 locations. The Rock of Cashel, Cahir Castle and the Mitchelstown Caves.
The Rock of Cashel is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Ireland. The buildings which crown St. Patrick's Rock present a mass and outline hardly equalled in these islands. The oldest and tallest of the buildings is the Round Tower which was built in the 12th century. Today the Rock is covered by 8 buildings which make up the entire structure. Cormac's Chapel was begun in 1127 by King Cormac Mac Carthaigh and consecrated in 1134. It appears to be the earliest Romanesque church in Ireland. Much of its architecture comes, possibly, from Bavaria or the Rhineland, although the small scale of the Chapel is characteristically Irish, as also is the simple ground plan, without aisles. Preserved within Cormac's Chapel is the splendid but broken sarcophagus which was once regarded as the tomb of King Cormac. It was brought into the chapel for safety over 100 years ago.
Separated from the chapel of Cormac is the Cathedral, an aisleless building of cruciform plan, having a central tower and terminating westword in a massive residential castle. It was built during the mid-13th century. The castle is a plain rectangular structure 24 metres in height. Its lower 3 storeys are covered by a pointed vault above which is the principal room.
The central tower, in which the Cathedral culminates, is a massive square structure of only a little less height than the early Round Tower belfry. It is approached by a winding stairs from the south transept, rising by 127 steps to the summit at the roof-walk.
The perfect Round Tower, nearly 28 metres in height is built of wrought masonry and sandstone. Facing south-east is the doorway, about 3.5 metres above the ground. 3 plain lintelled windows light the storeys above the entrance. In the top-most story are 4 triangular-headed windows.
The Rock enclosure is approached today, as at all times, by an inclined path on the southern side. On the right is a range of 15th century buildings consisting of the dormitory and the Hall of the Vicars Choral. Both sections are two storeys in height and lighted with numerous windows. A large part of the Choral has been completely restored. At the far end is St. Patrick's Cross, which stood for the last 800 years on the Rock and has been taken under cover for its greater safety.
About half mile west of the Rock, and clearly visible from it, is Hore Abbey which was founded by the Cistercians in the 13th century. Situated in the middle of Cashel is the Dominican Friary which was also built in the 13th century. Today all the buildings on the Rock are being completely restored. For those looking for further details on the Rock of Cashel a superb book is available from the Tourist Office in the town.
Although the town of Cashel itself is quite small there are many fine shops and restaurants. A visit to the City Hall is a must for all visitors. The Centre will provide the visitors with a series of changing exhibitions, a large scale model of Cashel in the 1640's, highlighting the lesser known treasures of Cashel such as the Bolton Library. A multi media presentation will allow the visitor hands on experience to search for queries in several languages.
At the foot of the Rock of Cashel is a National Heritage Centre. The imaginatively folk theatre features the Bru Boru performing group in three live perfomances daily. Irish traditions and celebrations will be explored in music, song, story telling and dance. The evening banquet will evoke the Court of Brian Boru and imaginatively reconstruct the revelry of the great halls which resounded to the music. dance, poetry and sagas which had been passed down from generation to generation since the dawn of history. The informal "Teach Ceoil" - music house sessions will take place nightly and will present the traditional music, song and dance of Ireland in an intimate and cost atmosphere.
Also at the Centre are: Laser facsimile copy of 'The Book of Kells", excellent restaurant, information service in Irish Heritage, Craft Shop and Genealogy Centre.
Returning south along the N8 is the town of Cahir. The main tourist attraction of Cahir is the castle in the centre of the town. Built on a rock in the middle of the River Suir, it represents the pinnacle of mediaeval skill. It has the only working portcullis in Ireland. Its origins are traced back to the 3rd century when a dun [fort] was built on the Rock and gave the town its original name "City of the Fishing Fort". It was probably fortified by the O'Brien's of Thomond in the century prior to the Norman invasion. The present structure is Norman and dates to the 13th and 15th centuries. The Butlers were granted the Castle in 1375 and it remained in their possession until 1961. On the death of the last owner it passed into the hands of the State and was designated a National Monument. The Castle has many attractions including an audiovisual show.
ther sites to see in Cahir include Cahir Abbey, St. Paul's Church, The Fountain and the Swiss Cottage.
Th Swiss Cottage (pictured top right) was built by Richard Lord Cahir in 1810. It was designed by John Nash, who also designed the Brighton Pavillion (Southern England) and Regency Street, London, England. Built in the Cottage Orne style it has some of the first commercially produced Parisienne wallpaper.
Cahir has a small shopping centre with some attractive Gift/craft shops and restaurants.