Tipperary is known as The Premier County, and Shauna O’Halloran has been discovering why.

* This article was originally published in IrishCentral's sister publication, Ireland of the Welcomes. Subscribe to this bi-monthly print magazine here *

Of course, during lockdown, all our travel plans are put on hold but we can still dream about our next vacation in Ireland. If you're planning on visiting County Tipperary you'll have plenty of things to see and do to keep you entertained. Remember to check opening times and restrictions before you visit as these may vary.

Rock of Cashel

One of the most visited heritage sites in all of Ireland, the Rock of Cashel and its group of medieval buildings and high crosses has by now achieved iconic status. The site was the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster for hundreds of years, before the Norman invasion. Most of the existing structures on the rock now date from the 12th and 13th centuries.

Opening times can vary from season to season. Tel: +353 (0) 62 61 437; www.heritageireland.ie.

Swiss Cottage

Swiss Cottage, Cahir, County Tipperary.

Swiss Cottage, Cahir, County Tipperary.

This ornamental cottage or ‘cottage ornée’ was once part of the estate of Lord and Lady Cahir and is typical of the type of fantasy houses the gentry of the late 19th century liked to entertain guests at. It was restored in the 1980s before being opened to the public. The three-story cottage is nestled amongst extensive woodland and nearby riverside walks are plentiful.

The cottage is closed during the winter months and reopens in March. Tel: +353 (0) 52 41144; www.cahirtourism.ie.

Ahenny High Crosses

The Ahenny High Crosses in Carrick-on-Suir stand four meters (13 ft.) tall each, and date from the 8th century. They are covered in an intricate, interlacing design, and display religious scenes more common to Ireland’s High Crosses on their bases. They also feature ‘Bishop’s hats’, removable capstones, and are said to be representative of a period of change between the older High Crosses and later, more pictorial crosses.

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The Bolton Library

This library houses a unique collection of Antiquarian books, gathered by the Archbishop of Cashel from 1730-1744. The collection includes a 12th century manuscript, The Nuremberg Chronicle, and works by Dante, Swift, Calvin, Erasmus and Machiavelli, as well as a variety of maps and church silver. The library is housed in the Chapter House on the grounds of the Cathedral Church of St. Patrick’s Rock in Cashel.

Visitors are welcome from Monday-Thursdays. Tel: +353 (0) 62 61944; www.cashel.ie.

Athassel Abbey

Just outside the picturesque village of Golden, lies the historic site of Athassel Abbey. Founded in the late 1100s, this Abbey was, during medieval times, the largest, active monastic site in Ireland. A fire in 1447 devastated the church, after which the tower was rebuilt, but the buildings were subsequently neglected and fell into ruin. Cited as the most impressive achievement of the Augustinians, the buildings are today in the care of the Office of Public Works, while the nave of the Abbey is used as a cemetery.

South Tipperary County Museum

Founded in the 1940s, this purpose-built County Museum is located in the heart of Clonmel’s civic center. The permanent gallery houses a collection of archaeology and art which charts the social, political, military, industrial, and folklife of the county throughout history. The second gallery hosts varying exhibitions, each with its own outreach/education program.

Open Tuesday to Saturday. Tel: 00353 (0) 52 6134550; www.southtippcoco.ie .

Glen of Aherlow

The Glen of Aherlow, County Tipperary.

The Glen of Aherlow, County Tipperary.

This quiet country valley is home to some of Ireland’s most breathtaking scenery, making it a popular holiday destination. The Galtee Mountains are to the south of the glen, with the Slievenamuck Ridge and its five corrie lakes to the north, affording it spectacular views. The Glen of Aherlow Nature Park is available for walking enthusiasts, through 50 acres (20 hectares) of woodland, while cycling, fishing and horse-riding are also popular activities in and around the lush valley.

Tel: +353 (0) 62 56331 (The Glen of Aherlow Faílte Society); www.aherlow.com.

Cashel Heritage Center

Get to know the rich heritage of Cashel through the variety of exhibitions at this center. A large scale model of Cashel in the 1640s will bring visitors back in time, while The Charters of Cashel, King Charles II (1663) and James II (1687), are on display permanently. Situated in the Town Hall, the Heritage Center has a shop selling local crafts and relevant books.

Admission is free. Tel: +353 (0)62 62511; www.cashel.ie.

Lough Derg

Lough Derg, County Tipperary.

Lough Derg, County Tipperary.

Not to be confused with the pilgrimage site in County Donegal, Lough Derg is Ireland’s ‘pleasure lake’, the southernmost Lake of the River Shannon, which provides the northern boundary of the County Tipperary. The Lough Derg region on land provides a scenic landscape, while the Lake itself is a hive of activity, since it is serviced by a range of water sports and is teeming with fish for keen anglers. Sailing, kayaking, waterboarding and fishing are all popular sports on the lake, while those lucky enough to own their own boat will enjoy launching from any one of the many marinas.

The Craft Granary

This restored 19th-century grain store is now used to showcase the hand-made crafts from all over the south-east of Ireland. Featuring pottery, glassware, woodturning,  occasional furniture, photography, fashion accessories, soft furnishings, handmade cards, jewellery, children’s toys with a Celtic twist and local food products, there is plenty on offer for all to enjoy, with a high level of craftsmanship. 

Tel: +353 (0) 52 7441473; www.craftgranary.com.

Mitchelstown Cave

Mitchelstown Cave, County Tipperary.

Mitchelstown Cave, County Tipperary.

Known as the Showcaves of Ireland, Mitchelstown is one of Europe’s premier cave sites. Sitting at the foot of the Galtee mountains, the tour of the cave takes visitors through three enormous caverns to see impressive stalactites, stalagmites, and the calcite curtains which hang from sloping roofs. The cave belongs to the same family that discovered it in 1833, and tickets for a 3km (1.8 miles) guided tour are available from the family home. 

Tel: +353 (0) 52 7467 246; www.mitchelstowncave.com

Cahir Castle

Cahir Castle, County Tipperary.

Cahir Castle, County Tipperary.

This castle dates back to the 13th century when it was built upon an existing stone fort site. It was enlarged and remodeled over a period of time between the 14th and 17th centuries before falling into ruin. Following a partial restoration in the 1840s, the castle is now managed by the heritage service for Ireland, and has become one of the country’s best known sites.

Open all year round, although opening times are seasonal. Tel: +353 (0) 52 41011; www.cahirtourism.ie.

Ormonde Castle, Carrick-on-Suir

This Elizabethan Manor house is thought to be one of the finest examples in Ireland. Built by Thomas, the 3rd Earl of Ormond in the 1560s, it is the country’s only major unfortified dwelling from that time period, while the interior of the house boasts impressive original plasterwork, including portraits in plaster. Open from April – September, the house is accessed via a free, 45-minute guided tour.
Tel: +353 51 640787; www.heritage.ie

Clonmel, Thurles and Tipperary Racecourses

If it’s a day at the races you’re after, this County is home to three premier racecourses. Clonmel Racecourse is a challenging National Hunt course that has been in existence for over 150 years, while Thurles is principally a jumping track. Tipperary Racecourse is situated just outside of Tipperary Town, and is one of Ireland’s principal summer racecourses.

Brú Ború         

This cultural center is at the foot of the Rock of Cashel, and home to the study and celebration of native Irish music, song, dance, theater and Celtic life. There is a folk theater, a genealogy center and a restaurant on-site, and the Brú Ború traditional group hold frequent performances at the center. The genealogy suite keeps records of births, deaths and marriages for a number of parishes, for those looking to explore their family roots.

Open all year. Tel: 353 (0)62 61122; www.comhaltas.com.

Thurles Famine and War Museums

 Located in the Protestant church of St. Mary’s in Thurles, the Famine and War Museums commemorate the many people who lost their lives through disease and starvation during the Great Famine in Ireland of 1845-1850, as well as exhibiting a collection of war memorabilia. The remainder of the 12th-century church is still used today as a place of worship for the Church of Ireland community of Thurles.

Tel: +353 (0) 504 31175; www.faminemuseum.com.

Fethard

This medieval walled town was the site of a major settlement by a Norman Lord in the 13th century. Whilst Fethard was a prosperous town throughout the 1200s, the danger associated with the hinterlands of the town led to the creation of a town wall, as with many Norman towns of the same time. Today, the Fethard Folk Farm and Museum is one of the town’s top attraction, with thousands of exhibits from folk and farm life, all housed in the former railway station near the town walls. Facilities include a café, picnic area, playground and ample parking.

Tel: +353 (0)52 31 516; www.fethard.com.

Bansha Wood

Situated on the slopes of Slievenamuck (Mountain of the Pigs), this woodland provides a place for walkers and ramblers to discover the native flora and fauna of the area. Originally part of the Moor estate, Moor’s Rock is one km from the car park and offers panoramic views of Cork, Tipperary and Limerick. This quiet and peaceful woodland is home to the red squirrel and Fallow deer.

Tel: 353 (0)52 41 453; www.discoverireland.com/ www.coillte.ie.

Semple Stadium

Semple Stadium in Thurles is the home of GAA (the Gaelic Athletic Association)  in Tipperary and for the larger Munster area. It is considered to have the finest playing pitch in the country, and with a capacity of 53,500, it is the second-largest stadium in Ireland after Croke Park. Thurles is the place it all began, when, on 1st November 1884, the seven founding members met to establish the Gaelic Athletic Association for the Preservation and Cultivation of National Pastimes. It is for this reason, perhaps, that many a Tipp native is proud to call their own county the home of the Games, and a trip to any fixture at Semple Stadium is bound to be a memorable experience.

Tel: +353 (0) 504 22702; www.tipperary.gaa.ie.

Farney Castle, Holycross

This unique building remains the only round tower in Ireland to be occupied as a family home. Currently inhabited by Irish designer Cyril Cullen, it also acts as his design studio and retail outlet. Cullen creates and sells his famous knitwear and porcelain designs at the castle, where he lives with his wife and four daughters. Tours of the castle are offered Monday-Saturday for a nominal fee, while entry to the gift shop is free of charge. There is also a gift shop on site.

Tel: +353 (0)50 44 3281; www.discoverireland.com.

* This article was originally published in IrishCentral's sister publication, Ireland of the Welcomes. Subscribe to this bi-monthly print magazine here *

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