Here’s a little-known tourism fact: Europe’s only toy soldier factory is located in Ireland.
What’s more, it’s immensely popular with both tourists and locals, having been awarded a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence each year for the past three years.
The Prince August Toy Soldier Factory and Visitor Centre is located in the village of Kilnamartyra in Macroom, Co. Cork.
It’s been around for close to 40 years, since 1976, when Lars Edman and his wife moved to Ireland from their native Sweden, bought a factory and began production.
The small, mostly local staff produces hundreds of molds for tin soldiers, as well as the figurines themselves, ranging from the traditional toy soldiers, to animals, to "Lord of the Rings" characters, to Irish heroes such as Michael Collins and Brian Boru.
The visitor center offers live casting demonstrations, giving kids and adults alike the chance to watch as the tin soldiers are cast and hand painted using the same methods that began in the 17th century. Visitors over the age of six can even take a turn themselves.
There’s a gift shop offering a vast array range of molds as well as figurines (both finished and unpainted).
There are also galleries of the different types of toy soldiers to be marveled at, but the biggest hit has to the handmade Battle of Waterloo diorama, unveiled this past June to coincide with the 200th anniversary. It was created by Andre Rudolph, from Germany, over the course of eight years and incorporates 15,000 hand cast and hand painted Prince August toy soldiers. How’s that for dedication?
For more information or to plan your trip, visit the Prince August website here.