Southern Ireland travel guide – exploring the Munster Vales region (photographs provided by Munster Vales)
I’m not going to lie, I’ve never seen the attraction of a staycation before. The last time I went on holiday in Ireland I was four years old. I sang the Billie Holiday classic ‘All of Me‘ in a hotel talent show. I didn’t win. It clearly scared me as I haven’t been on a holiday in Ireland since.
That is, until now. I have just come back from my first ever staycation, Irish holiday. I spent three days and two nights travelling around the Munster Vales region of Southern Ireland. And I had a wonderful time.
The Munster Vales is a new Irish tourism destination, in the same way, that The Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East are being promoted as destinations. I was invited as a guest to come down and visit a few places in the Munster Vales to get a taste of what the region has to offer. I enjoyed myself so much that I have put together this Munster Vales – Southern Ireland travel guide.
The Munster Vales links four counties; Waterford, Tipperary, Cork, Limerick and everything in between.
The Munster Vales area sits between four of Ireland’s six cities; Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Kilkenny. Gateway towns include Cashel, Tipperary, Carrick on Suir, Dungarvan, Fermoy, Mitchelstown, Buttevant and Charleville.
The Munster Vales takes in five mountain ranges; the Comeraghs, Knockmealdowns, Galtees, Ballyhouras and Nagles.
My knowledge of Irish geography is appalling, and I am ashamed to say that I had to take to Google maps to find out where most of these places are. I know, I know, it’s disgraceful.
When I got the invite to come down and tour the Munster Vales area I was given a list of things that I could do. Across the region, there are 96 attractions, nine heritage sites and 1,100km of walking trails.
Flagship attractions include the Rock of Cashel, Lough Gur and Glen of Aherlow – but there are also newer additions like the Waterford Greenway, the 46km route that opened this year as Ireland’s longest off-road cycling trail.
I really wanted to do the Waterford Greenway, but I can’t cycle.
I am just too nervous. The last two times I was on a bike I fell off. However, having seen the Waterford Greenway for myself, I think I would like to attempt it. It seems like the perfect place to learn how to cycle and gain confidence. But, I’m going to wait and do it in the summer because it will be drier meaning there is less chance of me slipping to my death.
There is plenty of other activities too including horse riding and angling. Dave (my boyfriend) isn’t too keen on horse riding (it is one of my most favourite things to do) and there is no way I was going fishing (I’m a vegetarian). Therefore, we based our itinerary around hiking, history and heritage.
We let Tríona O’Mahony, the Destination and Marketing Manager for Munster Vales finalise the details and build a trip around our interests. You can do the same by visiting the Munster Vales website where you can create your own bespoke trip or have a look at the ‘bundles’ packages of activities and accommodation.
This was our three-day Southern Ireland travel guide:
Day one – click here for a Google map of day one of my Southern Ireland travel guide
Tour and walking trail around Lough Gur Heritage Centre in Bruff, Co. Limerick
Lunch in Deebert House Hotel in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick
Walk around Kilmallock, Co. Limerick
Tour and walk around Doneraile Park, Co. Cork
Afternoon tea in Cafe Townhouse in Doneraile, Co. Cork
Overnight in Longueville House in Mallow, Co. Cork
Breakfast and dinner in the Longueville House Restaurant in Mallow, Co. Cork
Day two – click here for a Google map of day two of my Southern Ireland travel guide
Drive along the Knockmealdown Drive to experience ‘The Vee’, Co. Tipperary
Tour of Cahir Castle, Co. Tipperary
Lunch in River House in Cahir, Co. Tipperary
A leisurely Fethard Town Walls Heritage Trail, Co. Tipperary.
Tour of the Fethard Horse Country Experience in Fethard, Co. Tipperary
A drive through in the Nire Valley, Co. Waterford
Dinner and overnight in Hanoras Cottage Country House and Restaurant in Ballymacarbry, in the Nire Valley, Co. Waterford
Day three – click here for a Google map of day three of my Southern Ireland travel guide
Hike to Mahon Falls in Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford
Lunch in The Coach House in Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford
Drive along the Copper Coast, Co. Waterford
It was a full itinerary, but I do love packing as much activity into a holiday as I can.
I hate downtime as I just don’t know what to do when I have nothing to do!
I have to say; a staycation is very relaxing and a lot less stressful than travelling to a different country.
I was able to pack more than one change of clothes without being charged extra! In fact, I brought two coats and two pairs of shoes and I didn’t even pack them. I just threw them in the boot.
I was rushing around to catch a plane (I’m ALWAYS rushing to catch planes) and because we weren’t relying on public transport we could stop wherever and when we wanted. And I wanted to stop all the time because everything was just so photogenic.
The undulating inland area of Munster Vales just throws up vista upon vista with every corner.
Every hill and field seeming more vibrant than the last. Each town more charming than any that have gone before. The historical ruins along the route deserving of your time and wonder and hundreds of photos! The varied landscape from the depths of the valleys to the tops of the mountains in this, the farming heartland of Ireland, is really truly magnificent.
Another bonus of the staycation was that I didn’t get sick! Last year, without fail, after every trip as soon as I got back to Dublin I would get the sniffles or a cough or an earache. In fact, when I was in Menorca I spent the first three days in a feverish daze trapped in my apartment unable to move off the sofa because I got so sick. However, I arrived back from my Munster Vales trip illness free.
Even though we packed so much into each day, I also arrived home feeling more rested than any other trip had ever made me feel.
If you are planning on a road trip in this area, I have a handy guide to driving in Ireland over on the Allianz Ireland blog. It is packed with tips and trip ideas as well as some helpful rules for driving on Irish roads.
So, on to the places I visited. I’ll be putting up a post of each place over the next few days, so stay tuned. I’ll link them all here in the Southern Ireland travel guide.
First up, here’s my Lough Gur Heritage Centre review.
Here’s my review of lunch at Deebert House Hotel in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick.
And here is my Kilmallock travel guide.
Click here to read my Cafe Townhouse Doneraile review.
Click here to read my Longueville House Cork review.
And here is my Longueville House Restaurant review.
Click here to read my post entitled Cahir, Tipperary Travel Guide – See, Do and Eat.
My blog post on the Fethard Town Walls Heritage Trail.
Here’s my review of Hanora’s Cottage Country House and Restaurant.
Are you going to the Munster Vales region? Do you have any questions about where to go and what to do? Leave a comment below. I’ll be delighted to answer your questions.
If you liked this review you might also like my review of the Finn Lough Bubble Domes in Northern Ireland.
You might also like my review of the Orient Express Pullman Restaurant in Galway, Ireland.
You might also like my review of the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel in Galway, Ireland.
Looking for a restaurant in Dublin? Here’s my review of Sole Seafood and Grill.
If you liked this Munster Vales – Southern Ireland travel guide, please share with others.