He and his followers were wiped out in a plague, but Cobh has thrived ever since, and today is a colourful town with deep connections to the past. As last port of call for the Titanic, as well as historic departure point for hundreds of thousands of emigrants over the centuries, Cobh’s history is laden with heartache. Step inside the Titanic Experience Cobh, and Cobh, The Queenstown Story – to explore the story of both. The past looms large on Spike Island in Cork Harbour, where guided tours reflect the significance of the military fort housed here in Ireland’s revolutionary history. Having served as the site of a regional prison for decades, Fort Mitchell is now an enthralling and historic tourist attraction.
Heading north you’ll pass through the busy town of Fermoy, with its 13th century Cistercian abbey, before reaching the horseshoe-shaped Lough Gur. Rippling with myth and legend, the area here has a history stretching back 6,000 years. Look into the waters and see if you can see any sign of Gearóid Iarla, who was banished to the depths by the Goddess Áine... or so the legend goes. Let the beautiful greens of the scenery wash over you as you drive into the heart of Tipperary’s Golden Vale next. Soon you’ll see the Rock of Cashel emerging out of the landscape like a fairytale castle. It’s one of Ireland’s most iconic sites and as you walk up the steep hill to the entrance, you’ll get a sense of why. Huge, craggy and imposing – this is where St Patrick is said to have converted the King of Munster to Christianity in the 5th century, accidentally stabbing him in the foot with his crozier in the process. Walk the Gothic cathedral, see Ireland’s oldest frescoes in the 12th century chapel and take in the stunning views of one of the greenest parts of Ireland.
if you have more time:
Stop off at Mitchelstown Caves, and enter a world without sun, without time, a world where man almost feels an intruder and where nature reigns supreme.