Dungarvan To Lismore
The West Waterford Trail begins by taking the N72 from Dungarvan heading towards Lismore. Located on this road 3 miles out is a monument to the famous dog, The Master McGrath. Dungarvan's most famous son is unusually not a politician, writer or sportsperson. It is in fact Master McGrath a greyhound! After proving himself as a coursing dog, he went on to win the Waterloo Cup three times in 1868, 1869 and 1871. Over 37 races he was only ever beaten once. After beating the favourite to win the cup in 1869, the critics acclaimed him as combining the best in speed, intelligence and instinct. Turn off the N72 and take the R671 south and follow the direction signs to Villierstown, home of John Tracey, holder of the Olympic Marathon Silver Medal, Los Angeles 1984 and two World Cross Country Championships. Before you enter Villierstown take the first left and second right to see the Kiltera Ogham Stones. At the quay in Villierstown there are lovely views of the River Blackwater. It is also possible to water skier here. Visit the local Handicraft Centre and church.
From Villierstown follow the route to Cappoquin through the tree-lined road of Dromana Woods. Cross the Dromana Bridge and view its oriental-style lodge. Continue onto Cappoquin, a popular market town, it lies on a bend created by the River Blackwater as it turn sharply south and at the foot of the Knockmealdown Mountains. Cappoquin is at the head of the tidal River Blackwater estuary and offers some of the best game and coarse fishing in the country. State licences are available from the TiteLines Tackle Shop in Cappoquin. There is beautiful wooded countryside nearby. Try the Glenshelane Walk, which is signposted from Cappoquin.
On then to Lismore, set in beautiful surroundings, this heritage town was the site of the 7th-century monastery, founded by St. Carthage, which became one of the renowned universities of Europe. The town is dominated by Lismore Castle built on a cliff overhanging the Blackwater. The present castle incorporates fragments of the original castle built in 1175 by King John. The medieval cathedral has a splendid Tudor monument, Gothic vaulting and some elegant memorials. There is excellent trout and coarse fishing among some of the most beautiful scenery of the Blackwater Valley. Two good walks are the Lismore town walk and Lady Louisa's walk along the river. Further information and brochures on are available from the Tourist Information Office at Lismore Heritage Centre or from Dungarvan Tourist Office.
Lismore To Clogheen
Continue on the trail towards Ballyduff. Take the R666 Lismore-Fermoy road, signposted left over the bridge past Lismore Castle. This scenic drive overlooks the Blackwater. On the right there are beautiful woods with a slow moving stream. You can walk through the woods to the Towers, which bridge the stream. The building consists of three Gothic arches with towers and turrets attached. It is a lovely spot and a good place for a picnic, there are tables provided.
Once you reach Ballyduff you will be rewarded with stunning views of the river. The village has excellent visitor facilities. There are traditional pubs, an inviting restaurant called River Action and a beautiful hall and theatre. A short distance away is the famous fishing hotel The Blackwater Lodge and Buggy¹s Inn at Glencairn an award-winning restaurant. Ballyduff is well-known for its music and drama. It holds the West Waterford Drama Festival in early March. It is also famous for its Booley House, a festival of traditional Irish entertainment held in late July and August. For booking details contact Lismore Heritage Centre. The trail now takes us up to the Vee Gap through the Knockmealdown Mountains. Follow the R668 from Lismore via the Clogheen road. The road rises sharply through lush wooded countryside. Before the road reaches the summit, you can stop and walk to Bay Lough. Continue along the road until you reach the Vee Gap, which has superb views over the three counties of Tipperary, Waterford and Limerick. Descend on down to the village of Clogheen on the road to Clonmel. One kilometre, after the bridge over the River Tar, is Parson's Green Park and Pet Farm, open daily 10.00 am20.00pm from April to September. From here you could extend your tour and visit Cahir Castle, Swiss Cottage or the Rock of Cashel.
Photo: Sean Byrne