Lismore enjoys one of the prettiest positions of any Irish town, overlooking the River Blackwater beneath the Knockmealdown Mountains.
Founded by Saint Mochuda, also known as St. Carthage, the town is renowned for its early ecclesiastical history – something you can dip into with a visit to its medieval cathedral, notable for a vibrant stained glass window by the pre-Raphaelite artist, Edward Burne-Jones.
But it’s Lismore’s Anglo-Norman castle that inevitably makes the lasting impression.
This is one of Ireland’s iconic sights. Dating from the 12th century and home over the years to both Sir Walter Raleigh and Robert Boyle (the Father of Modern Chemistry), the castle passed to the Duke of Devonshire in 1753 and continues to peer down imperiously over the river. The castle itself is closed to visitors, but you can visit its gardens and contemporary arts space.
Lismore is also home to Dervla Murphy, the well-known travel writer – apt, given that it hosts the globally-renowned Immrama Festival of Travel Writing every summer. Michael Palin, Ranulph Fiennes ,Paul Theroux, Pico Iyer and many other famous names have detoured for this literary festival in a town where “the blue sky bends over all”, as W.M. Thackeray once wrote.
The award-winning Lismore is a heritage town and its Heritage Centre explains about its many historical attractions including St Carthage’s Cathedral, Ballysaggartmore Towers and Lismore Castle with its contemporary art gallery and extensive gardens.
Tourin House & Gardens
Tourin House and Gardens are situated three miles from Cappoquin and the Heritage town of Lismore, County Waterford in the South East of Ireland.
The main House at Tourin was built in 1840 in the then fashionable Italianate style. The main feature inside is a fine double oak staircase.
Tourin Gardens extend over 5 acres and include a Walled Garden. A fine collection of camellias, rhododendrons, magnolias and other shrubs give a beautiful seasonal display of colour. Rare and mature trees include a Champion London Plane Tree. Lovely walks along garden and woodland paths lead to Tourin Quay and a pond with wild duck and other wild life.
Overlooking the river Blackwater, the original historic sixteenth century Tower House still stands and can be seen from the garden.
The Towers Walk
Ballysaggartmore Towers are imposing gothic style buildings situated near Lismore in pleasant woodland walking and picnic areas. The magical towers provide a fairy tale setting which does not reflect the sad period in Irish History where extravagance and starvation lived side by side.
They were constructed for an Anglo Irish Landlord, Arthur Keily-Ussher no later than 1834. He held an estate of approximately 8000 acres, the majority of which was rented to tenant farmers but he retained approximately 1000 acres as a personal demesne.
The Towers Built in 1850 by Arthur Kiely-Ussher for his wife, the extravagant gates were the only part of the castle to be built as money ran out soon after their completion. The Kiely-Ussher family then resided in a modest house on the grounds – since demolished the small castle is not open to the public.
Lady Louisa’s Walk
Lady Louisa was the daughter of the 7th Duke of Devonshire, ancestor of the current owner of Lismore Castle, the 12th Duke of Devonshire. The Spout is a natural spring well that provided water for the estate workers in the castle until the early part of the nineteenth century. Lady Louisa’s walk is primarily a woodland walk along the riverbank. One can expect to find woodland plants such as beech, ash, ferns, spindle tree, holly and ivy as well as wood sorrel, golden saxifrage and wild garlic to name but a few.
St Carthage’s Catholic Church
St Carthage’s Catholic Church dates from the 1880’s. It is largely the creation of Dublin-born Walter Doolin (1850-1902) and was erected between 1881 and 1884. The church contains some interesting stained glass of the Celtic Revival, notably a set of three windows commemorating saints associated with Lismore – Cathaldus, Carthage (with contemporary picture of the Castle) and Colman.
St Carthage’s Cathedral
St. Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore is a Church of Ireland cathedral. Christianity has been practised on this site for over 1,000 years. Most of the current structure dates back to the 17th century dating back as the Cathedral was destroyed in 1630, and rebuilt starting in 1663.It was re-roofed and refurbished in the 18th century. Of note is teh 12th century Norman Wall, the McGrath Family Tomb and the Edward Burne-Jones pre- Raphaelite stained glass window.