Thursday, 22 December 2016


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lismore_049.jpgThe road from Youghal to Lismore via Tallow enjoys spectacular views of the Knockmealdown mountains. At the mid point between Youghal and Tallow is the appropriately named Half Way Bar with attendant shop and adjacent stable block - both Guinness and Murphys are on tap and friendly conversation is freely available.

Lismore is somewhat anglicised, comfortable in its sophistication and “take us as you find us” welcome. Lismore has a definable history dating back to 635AD and compact town (unlike England, Ireland sees no need to define locations with cathedrals as cities). You'll see St Carthage's Church of Ireland Cathedral, a castle of heroic proportions that has been owned by the Dukes of Devonshire for more than 300 years after being acquired through marriage to a daughter of the last Earl of Cork. The first Earl, Robert Boyle bought the estate from Sir Walter Raleigh who was having trouble paying the £12 a year ground rent! John F. Kennedy was a visitor and Adele Astaire, Fred's sister, married the younger son of the 8th Duke and spent many years as a resident. It's possible that Fred, who was a regular visitor, developed some of his more outré moves whilst tripping from one to another of the many bars the town boasts. The proprietor of the eponymous Eamonn's bar feels that it is better that I leave out much of this particular part of the castle’s history - so suffice it to say the 20ft high, stone walled garden is absolutely beautiful.

The cathedral is small but perfectly formed, displaying amongst other treasures a stained glass window by one of the leading lights of the pre-Raphaelite movement, Burne-Jones, a delightfully decorated arched ceiling and a wonderfully carved stone tomb made for the McGrath family in the 16th century.

Lismore Castle gardens are a happy combination of creative talents contributed over nearly 400 years. They are still being developed today and now contain modern sculptures sitting in harmony with walls and towers built by Sir Joseph Paxton (architect of Crystal Palace) in the 1840's.

The castle used to have a cluster of houses on the right hand side as you made your way to the main gate - however the 6th Duke decided to have the lower garden constructed - which required the demolition of these properties and the tenants were relocated some half a mile away into new purpose built properties - however they were not particularly impressed with their being so far from the hustle and bustle and named the area Botany after Botany Bay in protest at their deportation!!

Lismore is renowned for its restaurants - among which we recommend Barça and Cafe Moulise and has heard good reports for Castle Lodge and Eamonn's Place - Richmond House and Buggys epicurean delights are regularly acclaimed. You will also find a highly regarded craftsman jeweller in the High Street – Jonathan is partial to a pint so discuss the finer points of your commission with him at the bar – parting with the bulk of your disposable income will never be more enjoyable.

The staff at the information centre are delightful and the guided walk at 3 euro per head is an absolute bargain. It would appear that tradition dictates that the heir to the Dukedom, and thus responsibility for the amazing Chatsworth Palace in England, serves his apprenticeship at Lismore and the new Lord Burlington is enthusiastically shouldering this role by opening a section of the castle as an arts centre – apparently there are Lucien Freuds and Rothkos soon to be on view .


Lismore Heritage Centre
The history of Lismore
Lismore Castle Gardens
Lismore - National Heritage Town
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