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Welcome to our blog post “Top 10 Places To Visit In Southern Ireland Before You Leave For Mars!”
As you may already know, we have already started our Irish adventure with other articles such as “Top 10 places to visit in Western Ireland” & “Top 10 places to visit in Eastern Ireland” so the next obvious move is “Top 10 places to visit in Southern Ireland”. The only question was how far north before it’s no longer south.
Well, we decided to draw the Southern Line at Limerick, so that basically includes the lowest 8 counties, as this kind of works with our other articles about East & West Ireland. Enjoy!
The Hook Lighthouse is in the county of Wexford and is the oldest operational lighthouse in the world, being built 800 years ago by the Knight William Marshall. Recently voted as one of the top 10 tourist attractions in Ireland, The Hook Lighthouse offers guided tours all year round, so you can marvel at the exhibitions and stories of the Medieval Lighthouse. There are even Whale & Dolphin sightings from the shores with a decent pair of binoculars in the winter months.
- Address: Hook Lighthouse, Churchtown, Co. Wexford, Y34 KD93, Ireland
- Phone Contact: +353 51 397-055 / 397-054
- Web Address: www.hookheritage.ie
- Getting There: Hook Lighthouse is located at the tip of the Hook Peninsula in County Wexford, Ireland. The lighthouse on the R734.
- 40 minutes from New Ross town
- 50 minutes drive from Wexford town
- Opening Times:January to May
Daily 09:30 – 18:00
Tours every half hour from 10:00 – 17:00June, July & August
Daily 09:30 – 18:00
Tours every half hour from 10:00 – 17:30 (and later during peak periods)September to December
Daily 09:30 – 17.30
Tours every half hour from 10:00 – 17:00
- Price: Guided Tour Rates
- Adult €9.00
- Senior / Student €8.00
- Child under 5 yrs free (with accompanying adult / family)
- Family (1+1) €12.00
- Family (1+2) €15.00
- Family (2+1) €20.00
- Family (2+2) €22.00
- Family (2+3) €24.00
- Online Booking: Online Booking Available
- Parking: Hook Lighthouse hosts an extensive free visitor car park for cars and mini buses and coaches
26 Miles North West from Hook Lighthouse is the medieval City of Waterford. The origins of the City are closely linked to the River Suir. The Vikings used the river to help them build a settlement here in the 10th Centruy, where they thrived and controlled much of this area for many decades. You must visit the Viking virtual reality adventure world in Baileys New Street, nearby the Waterford Viking Triangle.
Waterford is mainly famous for it’s Crystal’s, first manufactured here in 1783 and is renown throughout the world. You can visit the factory and take a tour to see how the crystals are made. It really is fascinating!
There are many attractions in Waterford and has you would expect, many bars, cafes, shops & restaurants catering for all tastes, but it also has wonderful beaches, including nearby at Dungarvan & Tramore.
3. Kilkenny Castle
Built in the 12th Century, Kilkenny Castle served as a dominating Norman fortress beside the River Nore. By the 14th Century, it was owned by one of Ireland’s most powerful family’s the Butlers, but the Butlers’ wealth and the Castles condition deteriorated and the Castle was sold to the town of Kilkenny for £50 in 1967. Now restored to a state of noble grace, the sophisticated rooms are decorated with period paintings and furnishings lovingly restored by the current owners.
There are Craftsmen on site to show you some of the Medieval ways, who also produce and sell their original works. The guided tours are particularly fascinating.
- Address: The Parade, Kilkenny City, R95 YRK1, Ireland
- Phone Contact: +353 56 770 4100
- Web Address: http://kilkennycastle.ie/visitor-information/
- Getting There: From nearby Dublin City Centre, 1.5 hours S/W journey
- Opening Times: Monday – Sunday 9.00 to 5.30 June-Aug, 9.30 to 5.00 rest of year
- Price: 8 Euros Adults, 4 Euros Children & Students & 6 Euros Senior Citizens
- Parking: Plenty of parking spaces & disabled access to ground floor only
4. Cahir Castle
Cahir Castle is nestled along the banks of the River Suir in County Tipperary. It’s one of the largest in Ireland and was built by the O’Brien family in 1142. In the 1960’s the Castle was left to the Irish state, after Lord Cahir died.The Castle was besieged twice in 1847 & 1850, the latter when the guardian of Lord Cahir, George Matthew surrendered to Oliver Cromwell, without a single shot being fired, during Cromwell’s conquest of Ireland.
In 1981 the Castle was used as a location for a battle scene in the Film Excalibur.
The Castle’s attractions include a fantastic audio visual show full of great information for the visitors.
- Address: Castle Street, Cahir, Co. Tipperary, E21 P652
- Phone Contact: +353 (52) 744 1011
- Web Address: http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/south-east/cahircastle/
- Getting There: Centre of Cahir Town (Heritage Town).
- Opening Times:March – Mid June
Daily 09.30 – 17.30Mid June – August
Daily 09.00 – 18.30September – Mid October
Daily 09.30 – 17.30Mid October – February
Daily 09.30 – 16.30Closed: 24th – 30th December inclusiveAverage Length of Visit: 1 – 1.5 hours
- Price: Adult: €5.00, Group/Senior: €4.00, Child/Student: €3.00,Family: €13.00
- Parking: Plenty of parking spaces
- Payment facilities: Please note there are no credit or debit card facilities at this site.
5. Rock Of Cashel
Legend has it that the Devil took a bite out of a nearby mountain (known as the devils bit) and broke his tooth. In Agony,he dropped the piece of rock and the Cashel was built n top of it. The Rock Of Cashel is one of Ireland’s most spectacular historical sites. The Castle is in the middle of a prominent green hill, surrounded by ancient fortifications. The enclosure contains a 13th Century Gothic Chapel, a complete round tower, and a 12th Century Romanesque Chapel, High Crosses and hall of vicars.
The word ‘Cashel’ is an anglicised version of the Irish word “caieseal” meaning fortress. The site is also known as “The Cashel Of Kings” & “St Patrick’s Rock”.
As well as the wonderful buildings, the Rock also has Guided tours (Check with site) and an audio-visual show plus exhibitions.
- Address: St. Patrick’s Rock of Cashel, Cashel, Co. Tipperary, E25 KX44
- Phone Contact: +353 62 61437
- Web Address: http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/south-east/rockofcashel/
- Getting There: Location: 500m from the centre of Cashel town off the Dublin Road. Bus Route(s): Contact Busaras, Travel Centre +353 1 836 6111
- Opening Times: 9am-7pm early Jun–mid-Sep, to 5.30pm mid-Mar–early Jun & mid-Sep–mid-Oct, to 4.30pm mid-Oct–mid-Mar
- Price: Adult : €8.00, Group / Senior : €6.00, Child / Student : €4.00, Family : €20.00 (Please note you can only purchase tickets at the site only)
- Parking: Plenty of parking spaces
- Disabled Access: By prior arrangement, please contact site
6. Blarney Castle & Stone
Probably one of Ireland’s best known attractions. The Blarney Stone isn’t the only reason to visit this top site. The Castle is a great historical importance in its own right, so it’s great to have two attractions in the same site. The Blarney Stone sits high on the tower of Blarney Castle. To kiss the Blarney Stone one leans backwards holding onto an iron railing. Once kissed you gain the gift of eloquence. The saying goes “Kiss the Blarney Stone and never be lost for words again”
The Castle was built 600 years ago by Irish Chieftain Cormac McCarthy and here are just some of it’s attractions:
- Badger’s Cave
- The Court
- The Dungeon
- The Witch Stone
- The Estate
- The Battlements view
- The Stone from Below
- The Wishing Steps
- Witch’s Kitchen
- The Lake
All of these are quite fascinating. For more information as to what they are please see this site exploreblarneycastle
- Address: Blarney Castle & Gardens, Blarney, Co. Cork
- Phone Contact: +353 (0) 21 438 5252
- Web Address: www.blarneycastle.ie
- Getting There: Location: Blarney Castle is situated in Blarney Village which is 8 km northwest from Cork city in the South of Ireland. See the map on the site.
- Opening Times: 9 am to 5 pm Winter, 9 am to 7 pm Summer, check site for variations
- Price: Adult €18, Senior/Students €14, Children (8-16/under 8 free) €8, Family 2 Adults & 2 Children €45, discounts for online bookings
- Parking: Free car parking and coach parking on-site.
- Disabled Access: The Castle is partially wheelchair accessible.
Cobh is situated in Great Island in Cork Harbour on the South Coast. Just 15 Miles from Cork City, this picturesque waterfront town has some interesting history. It was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic (visit the Titanic museum) and was also a departure point for 70,000 emigrants during the Famine of 1848-50 many of them heading for the USA. All told this port has dealt with over 2.5 emigrants between 1848-1950.
What really makes this town stand out is the beautifully painted houses that line the Streets, with a mixture of Yellows, Greens & Blues playing a prominent role.
There is also a beautiful the impressive Coleman’s Cathedral to see, along with some other top attractions such as:
- Cobh Heritage Centre
- Escapade Cobh- Escaping from a prison on an island
- Spike Ireland- Ireland’s answer to Alcatraz
- Fota Wildlife Park
- Golfing & Sailing
- Spike Island Adventure
- Titanic Experience
- Cobh’s Road Train
- Cork Harbour Boat Ride
- Cobh Rebel Walking Tours
For more information on a visit to Cobh please visit http://www.visitcobh.com/
8. Mizen Head
Mizen Head is Ireland’s most South Westerly point, at the head of the Mizen point, where the cliffs of Mizen rise high above the Atlantic Ocean. This really is an exhilarating place to visit, whether it be watching the waves crash into the coastline or scanning the Ocean for Whales & Dolphins. Here are a few more Mizen Head Attractions you must see:
- Mizen Head Signal Station
- Mizen Head Visitor Centre
- The Fastnet Lighthouse
- Fastnet Hall
- The Arched Bridge
- SS Irada Propellor
- Navigational Simulator
- Many Many More
See the Mizen Head official website for all attractions here: http://www.mizenhead.ie/
9. Skellig Islands
The Skellig Islands are Skellig Michael & Small Skellig. They sit in the wind-swept Atlantic Ocean off the South West Coast of Ireland. They are twin pinnacles that are renowned throughout the world. Skellig Michael is 712 feet high and was famously used for a filming location in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. It is famous in the world of archaeology for it’s well-preserved monastic outpost of the early christian period and now designated a World Heritage Site. Small Skellig is also renown, but in the world of bird watchers as it has 27,000 pairs of Gannets, the second largest population of these sea birds in the world. There’s a strange mist that often drifts above the islands giving off a volcanic impression, but they are not volcanic islands.
There are tours to Skellig Michael but visitors to Small Skellig are not allowed. These boat tours do not continue in the winter or in periods of bad weather.
The Skellig Experience Centre is open all year apart from Winter months and is located on the waterfront at Valentia Island Bridge at Valentia, County Kerry.
10. Ross Castle
Completed in the late 15th Century by one of Ireland’s Chieftains O’Donoghue Ross, Ross Castle is a typical example of a Chieftain’s stronghold during the middle ages. Ross Castle was the last Munster stronghold to hold out against Oliver Cromwell’s infamous army, until finally being taken by General Ludlow in 1852.
The Castle is well defended, surrounded by a fortified bawn, and it’s walls defended by circular towers, of which 2 still remain. Legend has it that Brian Boru, Ireland’s most famous High King was educated on the site of the castle by Monks in the 9th Century.
There are regular guided tours which always makes sense to me!
- Address: Ross Castle, Ross Road, Killarney, Co. Kerry, V93 V304
- Phone Contact: +353 (64) 663 5851
- Web Address: http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/south-west/rosscastle/
- Getting There: Location: 2km from Killarney, off N71 (Kenmare Road)
- Opening Times: 2nd March – 6th November, Daily 09.30 – 17.45, Average length of visit: 1 hour, Last admission 45 minutes before closing, All groups of 10 people or more must be pre-booked
- Price: Adult: €5.00, Group/Senior: €4.00, Child/Student: €3.00, Family: €13.00
- Parking: Car Park close to the site
- Disabled Access: Access on ground floor only
Please Note, this Castle gets very busy during the summer months so expect delays