"An unusually attractive country house"

  Ballyrafter Country House Hotel Accommodation in Lismore Ireland  
  Over the Mountains

A Hindu Bridge in County Waterford

Dromana Bridge was just a pokey place to cross the Finish River until Lord Villiers Stuart married a high society bride in the mid-1800's. His tenants erected a fantastic Moorish castle made of paper maché over the bridge to greet the young bride. She was so delighted that Villiers-Stuart decided to make the bridge a permanent fixture, and this incredible vision still graces a local road.


The Ghost of Petticoat Loose

You're looking at the final resting place of the ghost of Petticoat Loose. In the early 1800's her ghost terrified the district. Finally, a local priest led a procession of parishioners to lonely Bay Lough where he exorcised the ghost. Why Bay Lough? Because it's waters are so deep their depths have never been plumbed. So they say.


Saint Declan's Path

In the early years of the fifth century, the Christian Bishop Declan worked successfully to set up a Christian community in Ireland's south. The path between Declan's ecclesiastical centre and the rulers at Cashel eventually became known as Saint Declan's Way. It followed the trade routes of the day, gently undulating across the Irish countryside before climbing into the mountains.

The Mountains in Rhododendron season  

Saint Patrick's Cow

The various parts of the Declan's path were given memorable names by the locals. There was the Path of the Saints and the Track of St. Patrick's Cow. The local mountain range bears the evocative name Knockmealdown, Hill of the Honey Fort.

Like any modern highway, it was along these paths that towns grew and castles and churches were built. Modern travelers can follow the trail still, parts of which are nearly unchanged since Declan's time 1600 years ago.


Mount Melleray Abbey

The Knockmealdown mountains are a delight, and the crisp hill air favours some of the most remarkable rhododendron blooms to be found anywhere. A spectacular view can be had from the heights.

Mount Melleray Monastery and its nearby grotto with a world famous statue of Mary is also worth a stop. Then it's down the mountainside to the green fields of County Tipperary.


Swiss Cottage

The next major stop is Cahir, home of two remarkable buildings that are part of the National Park system. The first is the Swiss Cottage, a style of building that was all the rage around the time of Marie Antoinette. Queen Marie, before she lost her head to the guillotine, loved to play at being a peasant, and the richest families in Europe followed suit. The Swiss Cottage is the best remaining example of these ornate "Peasant" palaces, an incredible example of the simple pleasures that a fortune can buy.


Cahir Castle

Also in Cahir is one of the finest medieval castles to be found in Ireland. Freely explore its winding passages, hidden servants alcoves, and high battlements. A great experience! There is an exceedingly pleasant path along the river that winds between the Swiss Cottage and the Castle.


The Rock of Cashel

Cashel was the seat of the Kings of Munster for more than a thousand years and the ecclesiastical centre of southern Ireland for nearly as long. The Rock is a stupendous place. The whole is eye filling and a quite splendid climax to St. Declan's Path.


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