Blackwater Castle is within walking distance of the picturesque village of Castletownroche, a Village of Tradition and shortlisted in 2013 by Bord Failte as a “Tourist Town”, where you will find a local supermarket, post office, pharmacy, beautician and hairdressers and four pubs. Located in the fertile farmlands of North Cork, Castletownroche grew up as a busy commercial centre around the medieval Castle as the Main and Bridge Streets wrap around the perimeter boundary of the Castle. The village was a thriving commercial hub with a market permit by the late 19th century. The array of shops operating at this time is truly astonishing for such a small village which then included harness makers, bakers, blacksmiths, publicans, farriers with all manner of entertainment on offer from circuses to dance bands to cinema. (A detailed enumeration of the commercial life of the village can be seen here). Much of the character of a late 19th/early 20th century village is still very much on view here which lends Castletownroche its own special charm.
A stay in Blackwater Castle is not complete without stepping back in time to 1791 with a visit to The Spinning Wheel Pub Museum in the Village. Tom and Norrie will make sure you are made welcome in their quirky public house and you may even get to meet Tara, their resident Fallabella miniature horse.
The village ensures all guests of Blackwater Castle are made very welcome and you will also find a warm reception from Mick and Nora in the Castle Arms, from Mike and Eileen in The Rock Forest Bar and from Pat and Kevin in Pat Mac’s.
North Cork is developing a reputation for fine food and 2 new entrants to the scene are located within 15 minutes drive of the Castle. The Thatch and Thyme restaurant is located in Kildorrery on the road to Mitchelstown where you will find delicious dinners of freshly cooked fish, roasts, meats, salads and thoroughly sinful desserts. Well worth a visit.
Myra and Ray are raising the bar for Tea Rooms with the 2016 opening of Cafe Townhouse on the Main Street of Doneraile. As interior designers it is no surprise that Myra and Ray have an elegantly furnished premises but the winner here is the delightful lunches, Illy coffee and desserts with Afternoon Tea a particular winner.
The Tea Rooms are located to the left of the archway that leads directly into one of Ireland’s most beautiful public spaces in Doneraile National Park which also contains a playground. The Park comprises approximately 166 hectares and is an outstanding example of an 18th century landscaped park in the ‘Capability Brown’ style. Mature groves of deciduous trees, several restored water features and a number of deer herds can be viewed along the many pathways within the Park. The pathways are generally accessible for people with special needs. Doneraile Court, the former residence of the St. Leger family, is situated within the Park. It will be opened to the public in the future, following completion of necessary restoration and safety works but the park itself is open during daylight hours.
The 13th Century Bridgetown Priory, established via endowment in 1202 by the Anglo Norman Lord Alexander Fitz-Hugh who established his Castle on the site of the existing fortress, is within a 30 minute walk of the Castle. It is a very well preserved site located in a beautiful setting where the Awbeg river meets the mighty Blackwater and showcases how an old priory would have operated prior to the dissolution of the monasteries in Tudor times.
There are countless traces of Ireland’s Mesolithic and Neolithic past as the area is rich in heritage with one of the most significant sites being that of the Labbacallee Wedge Tomb, a Neolithic or early Bronze Age burial chamber located some 6 miles from the Castle.
History buffs can delight in the Blackwater Valley Heritage Trail, with its 22 heritage sites including Labbacallee. You can also visit the interactive exhibition on the history of the Blackwater Valley at the Nano Nagle Centre for heritage, spirituality and ecology which is within 3 miles of Castletownroche. Here too is the venue for one of the many farmers markets in the valley, so it is the perfect place to stock up on the wonderful local produce in this most fertile of regions.
Castletownroche is situated within 10 miles of the provincial towns of Mallow and Fermoy while the real capital of Ireland, Cork City, is a 45 minute drive away so all the cultural and social amenities of Ireland’s second city are within easy reach from The English Market (recently visited by The Queen of Great Britain) to Cobh (where Titanic sailed from).
Our partners in adventure activities, Blackwater Outdoor Activities, are based on site and can customize your thrill seeking activities for you or alternatively you can take to the nearby hills of Ballyhoura where you will find 96km of cycle tracks and hillwalking trails. Indeed one of the best ways to soak up the beauty of this magical valley, and the warmth and hospitality of its people, is on foot. There is a wide array of walkways to choose from including the famous Blackwater Way itself or one of the numerous looped walks in the valley. Our tour guide can arrange guided walks of the trails within the Blackwater Valley and the nearby Ballyhoura range.
The beaches of East Cork (Youghal, Ballycotton, Garryvoe etc.) are all within easy reach of Blackwater Castle (within 1 hour’s drive) while those of West Cork (Kinsale, Garretstown etc.) are slightly further afield (within 1 ½ hours). Alternatively the wild coast of the Atlantic also beckons – the spectacular Cliffs of Moher and magnificent beaches of West Clare are within 2 hours drive of Blackwater Castle.