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.