Blarney Castle and Gunpowder Mills
The Lakes of Killarney
The Ring of Kerry
Tralee and Dingle
Distances shown are direct, Road distances are longer.
Cork as can be seen from the above map is an ideal central location for you holiday in Southern Ireland. Travel is easy and relaxed especially if you have your own or a hire-drive car. For shorter journeys bicycling is ideal for those who enjoy the open air and the peace and tranquility of the countryside.
Ireland has a low population density so most of your journeys will be on single lane roads and some dual-carrigeways. Trunk routes ( National Primary Routes) are indicated by the letter "N" before a number, such as the N22 from Cork City to Killarney. Secondry roads are indicated by the letter "R". Road signs give distances in either miles or kilometers.
Blarney Castle is the home of the world famous Blarney Stone. Legend has it, that whoever kisses the stone will be given eloquence "the Gift of the gab". Blarney Castle was built in 1446 by Cormac McCarthy,the King of Munster. Legend has it that the Blarney Stone was given to Cormac McCarthy by a witch when he saved her life, other people believe that it is mentioned in the Bible as "Jacob's pillow, and was brought to Ireland during the time of the Crusades by Jeremiah the Prophet.
At the base of the castle is Blarney Rock Close a collection of large boulders and rock formations forming a mystical rock garden. This is believed to be the remains of a Druidic settlement and place of worship. Many features have been given names such as the "Druids Alter", "Witches' Kitchen" and the "Wishing Steps". Many rare trees are also found here.
Blarney Castle and Rock Close are open all year from 9:00am to 5:30pm daily.
Blarney House built in 1874 is just a short walk from Blarney Castle. It houses a fine collection of paintings and there are walks through the informal gardens to Blarney Lake.
There are several craft shops in the village including Blarney Woollen Mills where you can buy the best of Irish produce including Aran knitwear, tweeds, crystal and china.
There is also some fine accomodation, restaurants and evening entertainment in Blarney.
On your return trip stop off at the Royal Gunpowder Mills in Ballincollig. The Mills date from 1794 when Charles Henry Leslie built the first mill along the bank of the River Lee. During the Napoleonic Wars eleven years later, the British Board of Ordnance purchased the mills and vastly increased their size. An Army barracks was built alongside to protect the mills. These barracks now called Murphy Barracks are occupied by the Irish Army.
When the war ended in 1815 the demand for gunpowder declined and it wasn't until the 1830's when a Liverpool company bought the mills that the final and biggest expansion took place. By the mid 1850's over 500 people were employed and the mills supplied black gunpowder all over the British Empire. By the turn of the century cordite was rapidly replacing gunpowder and the mills finally closed in 1903.
Today the mills provide a unique insight into life during the nineteenth century and are a place of great interest to both locals and visitors.
There is also some fine accomodation, restaurants and evening entertainment in Ballincollig.
Kinsale is the Gourmet Capital of Ireland. Its numerous restaurants offer some of the finest seafood dishes to be found anywhere in the world. There is a wide variety of sports and activities available including Deep Sea / shark fishing, Scuba Diving, Yachting / Sailing and Boardsailing. See the Sports and Activities Page for further details.
Kinsale is one of the oldest population centres in Ireland. It's position on the estuary of the Bandon River has been associated with fishing, sailing and commerce far beyond memory. It as designated as a medieval wine port in 1576 and Desmond Castle was built as a Customs House also in the 1500's. Kinsale has been the site of several battles, the most famous being in 1601 when the Spaniards occupied the town for 100 days against the might of Elizabethan England.
In 1678 construction began on Charles Fort, just a couple of miles to the East of Kinsale. Today Charles Fort is one of the finest surviving examples of a 17th Century Star Fort. The fort has two enormous bastions overlooking the estuary and three looking inland. Within its walls were all the accomodation requirements for the garrison of the fort and their families. Charles Fort is open to the public from April to October.
Just a few miles to the East of Kinsale is Oysterhaven a very quite and sheltered harbour where the Oysterhaven Holiday & Activity Centre is located. A few miles further on is Robert's Cove with a small sheltered beach.
To the West across the New Bridge there is a fine beach in Garretstown and further South is the Old Head of Kinsale off which the ill-fated Lisutania sunk.
Today Kinsale is being developed as a key heritage town and is essentially for the tourist, being renowned as the gourmet capital of Ireland holding its own Gourmet Festival in October, with twelve of its restaurants forming the Kinsale Good Food Circle. Kinsale is a maze of narrow streets never far from the water. Many of the numerous sports and activities available are to found near the yachting marina. Kinsale has many pubs and bars, and a superb choice of accomodation. There is also a wide variety of evening entertainment.
The following few photos are views from around the town.
.... Continue to Part 2