Are you looking for somewhere different to visit this Summer? Well, look no further than Munster Vales – an incredible 1,100 kilometre stretch of olden routes and time-worn trails through the counties of Waterford, Tipperary, Cork and Limerick.
Munster Vales has plenty of activities and sites that are certain to keep everyone entertained, whether you’re looking for adventure activities or to explore the great outdoors. There is also the unique ‘Taste the Vales’ Food Trail which links Munster Vales fabulous variety of local food producers and providers, meaning that whatever kind of food you’re in the mood for, we’ve got you covered!
You’ll need to plan your visit for over a few days so that you can fully experience all that the region has to offer. To get you started, we’ve selected six highlights to give you an idea of what you can experience on a visit to the region.
So, let’s get started!
1. Incredible mountain ranges
If you’re a couple or a solo traveller who loves hiking and exploring the great outdoors, then Munster Vales needs to be on your bucket list. You can hike to the five highest points of the Munster Vales – encompassing the Comeragh, Knockmealdown, Galtee, Ballyhoura and Nagles mountain ranges. The Ballyhoura Mountain range is the adventure capital of Ireland with the largest mountain biking trails in the country spanning 52km across the range, while the Nagles, located in the north of county Cork, has everything from nature trails and heritage sites to breath-taking scenery.
2. St Declan’s Way
St. Declan’s Way is a 115km pilgrim walking route which takes you all the way from St Declan’s Monastery in Ardmore, Waterford to the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary. It follows the route that Declan took when going to Cashel to meet Saint Patrick in the fifth century. The route finishes at the early Christian monastic site at Ardmore with its stunning round tower where St Declan built his monastery. There are over fifty other heritage sites along or close to the trail route so it is the ideal activity to learn about the history of the region.
3. Liscarroll Donkey Sanctuary
You’ll definitely love a visit to the Liscarroll Donkey Sanctuary in Cork where you can book some time at the open farm and check out how Lockdown Lockie, the foal, is getting on. Over 5,200 donkeys from all parts of Ireland have been taken into care there since the sanctuary was set up, while Knockardbane Farm is home to over 100 donkeys. There is also a Visitor Centre and picnic area on site so you can relax and have a bite to eat while you’re there.
4. Doneraile Wildlife Park
Also in Cork, is the amazing Doneraile Wildlife Park, located north of Mallow. This beautiful walled park extends over more than 400 acres and is bisected by the Awbeg River. You can explore the stunning gardens, sweeping parkland vistas, groves of ancient trees, rivers and lakes. You’re almost certain to see some deer and cattle herds as well as a profusion of wildlife and plants. This is definitely a must for a nature lover and a perfect stop on a trip through the Ballyhouras region.
5. Lough Gur
Lough Gur in Limerick is a shallow lake measuring 3.5 meters at its deepest level. When you visit the iconic site you can follow a trail that will take you on a walk to the most ancient monuments and historic sites in Ireland. The exhibition in the visitor centre provides an overview of one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites and is the only area in the country where you can see visible evidence of every age since Neolithic times. Visitors can also find out about the rich heritage of Lough Gur through the interactive multimedia exhibition that brings to life over 6,000 years of archaeology and history.
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6. Ormond Castle
Anyone interested in learning about history will want to visit Ormond Castle in Tipperary, which is one of the finest examples of an Elizabethan manor house in Ireland. Thomas, 10th Earl of Ormond, built it in 1565 in honour of his distant cousin Queen Elizabeth. The magnificent great hall, which stretches almost the whole length of the building, is decorated with some of the finest stucco plasterwork in the country. Audiovisuals and technological installations bring the castle’s intriguing history to life while you explore The Long Gallery and The Earl’s Chamber. Admission is free but pre-booking is advised.
These are just some of the many highlights of what you can experience on a visit to Munster Vales. Hopefully, this gives you an idea of where to start when planning a visit but we’ll be posting again soon with more suggestions of activities and sites.
Tríona O’Mahony is the Destination & Marketing Manager of Munster Vales . Munster Vales’ main objective is to promote the geographical area as a unique brand, linking the counties of Waterford, Tipperary, Cork and Limerick and everything in between.