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Blackwater Valley Heritage Trail

From Youghal to Lismore, hear about the Blackwater river's rich heritage.

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Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 13 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours

Overview :  Youghal is the last port of call for the mighty 104 mile Blackwater river that has come all the way from North Kerry, famously... more »

Tips:  This Trail takes you on and along the banks of the famous Blackwater river and has a number of sites that deserve a stop off. This... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Strong tide to Ferrypoint

From your starting point, you can see Ferrypoint across the way - it may look close but Mick Hackett explains why swimming across to this promontory is not for the faint hearted - and is not recommended by this guide!

2. Strength of the Blackwater

Mick Hackett tells us a bit more about the comings and goings of the flow itself and the full might of the Blackwater River.

3. Youghal Bridge

Rarely has a bridge had such a colourful history as this one. Hear legendary local Mick Hackett tell you about just how awkward things got as greater transport needs caught up with the bridge. The picture shows you just how difficult it must have been for the poor driver!

4. Templemichael

In 1183 Raymond le Gros established a Preceptory of Knights Templar at Rhincrew, an out post of which was TempleMichael. The keep was built specifically to control the river crossing.

The now ruined Church of Ireland parish church dates from 1823 it was built with a grant from the Board of the First Fruits, and until about twenty years ago was... More

5. Molana Abbey

We let Tony tell you about the Knights Templar's association in the area on the audio here.

Meanwhile, the always excellent historian Turtle Bunbury explains the wonder that is Molana Abbey: - 'on the island that stands in the Blackwater, directly in front of present-day Ballynatray House, is one of the most important churches in early medieval ... More

6. Seismic Changes to the River

The course of the river has changed dramatically over the years. Hear Tony explain how a seismic change came in the 9th century to the river changing its route from flowing to nearby Ardmore to its present one of Youghal.

7. Sold Down the River

Tony tells us of how Walter Raleigh sold the Blackwater to Richard Boyle - how many a fisherman would love to get this as a present!

8. Beware of the Red Headed Woman

Mick Hackett tells us about one of the curious superstitions connected with the river - indeed a one that is prevalent throughout the land.

9. Meanderings of the River

Hear Peter tell us a bit more about how the river starts to meander here.

10. Drumore View

Just inland from the river at this point, Peter describes the scene from Drumore - a panorama of the valley and its surrounding countryside with the Knockmealdown mountains in the background from this viewing area. Be transported back in time to 1842 when Thackeray marveled at such unspoiled greenery.

11. Kiltera standing stones

Not actually in view from the river are the Kiltera standing stones. With tongue slightly in cheek, Peter tells us about the stones and helps to clear up what all those signs saying 'Fogra' actually mean!


12. Villierstown

Villierstown was founded by the Villiers-Stuart family, from where the name is derived. The original village consisted of a church, a rectory, a school, 24 dwelling houses, a court, a police barracks and a quay on the river. Daniel O'Connell famously had a 'monster meeting' here in the 1830s with over 40,000 people attending.

13. Strancally Castle

With a fine view of Strancally castle, Peter tells us about how the locals thought the pike was the king of the fish.

Strancally Castle was designed by James and George Richard Pain and built for John Kelly around 1830 and is now in private hands. It stands in front of the original ruin of a Desmond castle, which contained an infamous murdering... More

14. Dromona

Nearby Dromona was home to Katherine FitzGerald, Countess of Desmond (died 1604) was a noblewoman of the Anglo-Norman FitzGerald dynasty in Ireland. English writers of the Tudor period, including Sir Walter Raleigh, helped popularize "the old Countess of Desmond" as a nickname for her. One estimate placed her age at death in excess of 120 years.... More

15. Dromona Gate

Home to Ireland's only Hindu Gothic gate lodge from circa 1830 and also of the Battle of Affane in 1565, where the last private battle in Ireland took place between the Earls of Desmond and Ormond, Peter O'Connor tells us more about this fascinating heritage site.

16. The Greatorex

Valentine Greatrakes (14 February 1628 - 28 November 1683), also known as 'Greatorex' or 'The Stroker', was an Irish faith healer who toured England in 1666, claiming to cure people by the laying on of hands. He hailed from this part of Waterford.

17. Cappoquin

Cappoquin nestles at the foot of the Knockmealdown mountains in the Blackwater valley. West Waterford is one of the unspoilt areas of Ireland, with beautiful scenery, a variety of amenities and a range of activities for visitors and locals alike. The town itself is full of characters and character. Ensure you try the fresh bread in Barron's bakery... More

18. Cappoquin Bridge

Site of that most famous dogleg where the river suddenly decides to head a sharp south after going 90 miles east.

19. The Henley of Ireland

See the 'Henley of Ireland' and the site of where the Lismore to London train used to cross the Blackwater - soon to be a walking trail.


Peter O'Connor has been telling you about some of the amazing sites of the area. Why not stay at Peter's Glenribbeeen Eco Lodge and enjoy his many tales, his famous breakfast or sample archery, fiddle lessons, bat watching - the list is endless with this Renaissance Man!

21. The Boyles of Lismore

Richard Boyle came to Ireland from England in 1588 with only twenty-seven pounds in capital and proceeded to amass an extraordinary fortune. After purchasing Lismore he made it his principal seat and transformed it into a magnificent residence with impressive gabled ranges each side of the courtyard. He also built a castellated outer wall and a... More