Best Things to Do in Clonmel, Clonmel, the largest town in County Tipperary, situated in the Suir River Valley, with the Comeragh Mountains and Slievenamon always visible in the distance.
During Oliver Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland in 1650, the town fought fiercely and inflicted heavy casualties on his New Model Army before negotiating a peaceful surrender and becoming famous.
Later, during the Palatinate of County Tipperary, the town became a major political and judicial center, and the Main Guard building is a beautiful relic from that time.
Clonmel is now most famous as the home of the cider company Bulmers.
You may visit the Comeragh Mountains and Slievenamon to get a feel for Ireland’s natural beauty, and fascinating historical landmarks like the Rock of Cashel are conveniently located nearby.
Best Things to Do in Clonmel
South Tipperary Arts Centre
The South Tipperary Arts Centre, located on Nelson Street, is a bright Modernist structure on the banks of the Suir that serves as a regional cultural hub for art exhibitions, talks, live music, dance performances, and poetry readings.
The center also organizes off-site events, including the Japanese film season held in April 2018 at the LIT Clonmel campus in the northern part of town.
In honor of International Women’s Day and the centennial of women’s suffrage in Ireland, the “Ain’t I a Woman?” exhibition was on display at the center on Nelson Street. The exhibition featured the works of Aideen Barry, Pauline Cummins, and Kathy Prendergast.
Just a short drive down the Suir will bring you to Ireland’s most impressive Elizabethan home.
The 10th Earl of Ormond, Thomas Butler, had the Medieval castle of Ormond Castle transformed into a stately home in the 1560s.
What makes the construction of this unfortified structure so extraordinary is that it took place when Ireland was once again in turmoil after Henry VIII’s re-conquest earlier in the century.
In the summer, when the home is accessible for tours, visitors may examine how much of the original structure has been preserved.
Elegant plasterwork in the style of Elizabethan times adorns the ceiling and frieze of the first-floor gallery, and two massive fireplaces add to the room’s grand feel.
The ruins of a castle built in the 14th century can be found behind the manor house.
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This mountain chain, which begins to the southeast of Clonmel and extends all the way to Waterford, is a hiker’s and climber’s paradise.
The glacier that formed the beautiful coums (or cirques) in the Comeragh Mountains is well-known. These coums are amphitheatre-like depressions surrounded by high cliffs and have deep loughs (lakes) at their bases.
Getting to the trailhead for a loop that passes through two of the range’s most breathtaking natural views takes less than half an hour by car.
You will visit the 80-meter-tall Mahon Falls and travel across a moor dotted with grazing sheep and goats to reach Coum Tay, which is surrounded by towering cliffs.
This 721-meter hill to the northeast of Clonmel is impossible to overlook.
Slievenamon’s lower slopes are ringed by a number of lesser hills, several of which are crowned by Neolithic cairns.
The rounded hillsides make the hike up from Kilcash to the peak surprisingly easy to navigate.
Slievenamon, which translates as “Mountain of the Women” in Gaelic, is named after a mythological race that female contestants in the quest for the hand of the eligible warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill ran.
Fionn had feelings for one of the runners, Gráinne, and helped her improve her chances of winning.
There are two prehistoric cairns at the peak, and if you visit on a clear day, you can see all the way down to the Comeragh range in Southeast Ireland.
Clonmel Golf Club, located in a parklike setting at the foot of the Comeragh Mountains, is known for its challenging play and breathtaking views of the Suir Valley and Slievenamon.
The original 1911 layout was updated with new bunkers in 2010.
Clonmel’s best hole is the 14th, a par-3 that plays 185 yards from a picturesque elevated tee.
Green Fees are reasonable (€15.00-€25.00 in April 2018) and guests are welcome, however it is advisable to make a reservation, particularly for weekend rounds, as this is a popular members club.
Clonmel Junction Festival
From the first weekend of July to the ninth, the Clonmel Junction Festival hosts a variety of artistic performances and exhibitions, including street theater, live music and dance, circus acts, stand-up comedy, and visual art installations.
St. Patrick’s Well, one of many interesting venues, plays host to performances, and the streets are lined with pop-up restaurants and stands selling tasty treats.
Glut, a collective headquartered in Cork, opened a stand at the festival last year, introducing attendees to locally foraged foods including as jams and pickles.
Three days of free food and music were held on Clonmel’s Narrow Street in 2017.
The Main Guard is a courthouse that dates back to the late 17th century and was restored in the early 2000s.
A five-bay arcade made from repurposed sandstone from the demolished Inislounaght Abbey can be found on the ground floor.
The Palatinate of County Tipperary held court in what is now known as the Main Guard, which featured individual quarters in addition to a drawing room and eating area.
When James II visited Clonmel in 1689, these were used to house him. Nicholas Sheehy, a Roman Catholic priest, was tried at the Main Guard and executed by hanging, drawing, and quartering during the Penal Laws era.
This arcade was filled in at the turn of the 19th century and only recently restored to its original layout.
St Patrick’s Well
One of the largest holy wells in Ireland can be found in an idyllic area at the foot of a limestone cliff.
Located on the western suburbs of Clonmel, the waters here have been said to have magical properties, drawing pilgrims from all over the world for centuries.
A Celtic stone cross, aged but still standing, rests in the pool’s center, while the empty shell of a chapel sits on the water’s edge.
Families also picnic here on nice days, in addition to visiting as pilgrims.
The well itself is visible, so parents can see where their kids are getting their fresh water from as they splash around in the pool.
Possibly the most intact medieval town in Ireland is located just north of Clonmel, a little over a ten-minute drive away.
Since King Edward I of England authorized the construction of such walls throughout Ireland in 1292, Fethard, which was founded at the turn of the 13th century, has been surrounded by them.
More than 90% (1100 m) of the wall remains intact in the modern era, and within the maze of streets within the defenses are mansions from the 15th century, friaries, and a church from the 13th century.
The highest point of the wall is 7.6 meters, and the North Gate, the only remaining town gate, still displays wickerwork from the time it was built.
The wealthy Carey family, who owned a school, commissioned the construction of this Eclectic mansion at the start of the 19th century, but they never lived there.
You may be forgiven for mistaking the Norman great hall, Celtic round tower, and Gothic arches of Carey’s Castle for those of a much older structure.
The castle is in a glade amongst oak, beech, ash, and spruce forest, and the path to it runs alongside the mossy Glenary River, making for a picture-perfect backdrop.
An unbroken icehouse can be found away from the main structure.
If you enter the woodland silently, you may be able to spot fallow deer while sparrow hawks soar overhead.
This gorgeous six-hectare lake on the western side of town is actually completely artificial, which may come as a surprise to some.
At the end of the 18th century, landowner Stephen Moore filled in an area of marshland to produce Marlfield Lake.
This reservoir was previously used to generate electricity for nearby mills, and it is filled by the spring at St. Patrick’s Well.
As an important home for a variety of ducks and swans, including coots, herons, mallards, and swans, Marfield Lake is now protected as a wildfowl reserve.
Tipperary County Museum
The county museum has been in its current location since 2000, and it explores the history of Tipperary from several perspectives.
The museum houses a huge 25,000 artifacts, some of which were loaned by the National Museum of Ireland.
The cultural, military, and social histories of the area are chronicled in one gallery, while the other hosts rotating, topic-based shows.
The jersey worn by Gaelic football player Mick Hogan when he was killed at Bloody Sunday in 1920 is on display, as is Ireland’s first Olympic medal, won by T. F. Kiely in 1904 at St. Louis.
Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel is a rough-hewn limestone rock topped with Medieval monuments in the Golden Vale, and it is easily accessible from Clonmel.
Although most of its structures date to the decades after the Norman Invasion of the 13th century, it served as the seat of the Kings of Munster for centuries before that.
Cormac’s Chapel and a round tower from the 12th century, a cathedral from the 13th century, and a castle from the 15th century make the rock one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations.
Cormac’s Chapel, with its carved tympanums above its main doors and an unique Irish painting from the period, is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in all of Ireland.
St. Patrick’s Cross, carved in the 1100s, with a supporting stone thought to have been used at the coronation of the Kings of Cashel in the 300s, is on display in the Cashel Museum, located in the 15th-century Hall of the Vicars Choral.
Cahir Castle, located on an island in the River Suir, is an impressive Medieval stronghold.
Its construction began about the middle of the 12th century, and two centuries later, the powerful Butler family was handed ownership. Although the castle was restored in the nineteenth century after it had been abandoned, the majority of its buildings date from the sixteenth.
An exciting multimedia exhibition recalls the sieges and battles fought for this fortress, and you’ll discover the many films and TV shows, such as The Tudors and Excalibur (1981), that have been filmed here. Take a 30-minute tour and explore historic features like a working portcullis, original machicolations, dungeons, and secret tunnels, as well as watch an exhibition about the siege of 1599.
Swiss Cottage, Cahir
A tiny cottage orné commissioned by Richard Butler, the 1st Earl of Glengall, in the early 1800s awaits you after a stroll from Cahir Castle.
These quaint dwellings date back to the Romantic Era, when city dwellers longed for the simpler life of the countryside.
The iconic Royal Pavilion in Brighton was designed by Neoclassical Regency architect John Nash, who is widely credited with designing the Swiss Cottage.
The cottage is charming in its eccentricity, what with its thatched roof and rose garlands decorating the front porch.
The salon’s walls are papered with a pattern created by the Parisian wallpaper business Joseph Dufour et Cie in 1797; the music room is furnished with period instruments; and the hall features an elegant spiral staircase.