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Lismore Town & Heritage

Lismore Town

As winner of Irelands Tidiest Small Town in 2002, Lismore is proud not only of its ancient and historic heritage, but also of its natural beautiful location on the banks of the river Blackwater.

On Main Street many early houses and fine old shop fronts may still be viewed with their iron cresting and robust timberwork most admirable. Today, many of the shops and pubs have maintained their traditional character and appearance and Lismore provides a lovely stroll along its sleepy town streets, browsing in and out of the antique, craft and wine shops. 

The town is full of colour and greenery with canopies of magnificent mature trees and carefully tended gardens including the delightful Millennium Park, which is a wonderful tranquil escape from the busy minutiae of our daily activities.

With so many charms to enjoy in Lismore, one of the highlights is a relaxing stroll down to the Bridge, which spans the river Blackwater, and its tributary, the Abh na Shead. Lismore Castle towers above the bridge, perched impressively on wooded slopes overhanging the river and with stunning battlement turrets and towers reaching for the clouds. To linger a little longer, you will enjoy the fine views of the Blackwater valley that exist both up and down the river. Don’t forget your camera!

Lismore Town & Heritage

Lismore is one of the most historic towns in Waterford. The name Lismore comes from two words – “Lios” meaning Fort and Mór meaning great. It's meaning is derived from the round hill or great Irish fort to the east of the town. The two chief points of interest in Lismore are St. Carthage’s Cathedral and Lismore Castle. 

The Cathedral crowns the summit of a hill and is on all sides surrounded by foliage. The churchyard is full of graves - here lie the bones of nobles, soldiers, traders of the high and humble born.

In 636 AD St. Carthage founded a monastery here. The town after its monastic foundation became a seat of learning and was known all over Europe. During the 9th century and beginning of the 10th century the town was repeatedly plunged by the Danes. In 978 the men of Ossory burnt the monastery. However in spite of being sacked more than once by the Vikings and other alien tribes, the monastery managed to retain its influence in Munster until the arrival of the Normans in 1172.

The Cathedral is a short walk from Lismore Castle, which was built by Prince John of England in 1185. It is said to be one of the last fortresses erected by Prince John during his eighth month stay in Ireland. When John became King he paid little heed to this remote corner of his dominions and permitted Lismore Castle to become an Episcopal residence for the local Bishop. It remained for four centuries the Episcopal residence. In 1589 the Bishop's Palace was leased with its lands to Sir Walter Raleigh for a rent of £12 a year by the then Bishop of Lismore Miler McGrath. He had been consecrated Bishop of Down and Connor by the Pope in 1567, became a Protestant in 1569, was made Bishop of his native Clogher in 1570 and a year later Archbishop of Cashel to which diocese he added Lismore and Waterford.

When Raleigh was in Ireland. He stayed not at Lismore but at Youghal. His estates in this part of Ireland extended to 42,000 acres but he sold them without regret as they were losing money owing to the ravages of the Elizabethan Wars. Richard Boyle, later the great Earl of Cork purchased Sir Walter Raleigh's estates for £1,500 in 1602. They consisted mainly of forestland around Youghal, linked by the navigable River Blackwater. Boyle, who received his earldom in 1602, had a sensational career. He arrived in Ireland in 1588, aged 22 with £27 in his pocket, a diamond ring, a bracelet and the clothes he stood up in. By the time of his death in 1644, he had amassed enormous wealth. Of his seven daughters and seven sons, the most famous was Robert Boyle, the philosopher and father of modern chemistry, who was born in Lismore in 1626. 

The first Earl's rise to fame and fortune was the result of his success in colonising his great estates and the establishment of schools, roads, and bridges to facilitate the proper development of industry and agriculture. He enlarged and embellished Lismore Castle, moving from Youghal in 1620 with his family to reside there. His books are among the Lismore manuscripts in the National Library, Dublin and his diaries are at Chatsworth. Together they give the fullest account of any building of this date in Ireland. In 1617, he had an elaborate tomb made with effigies of himself, his wife and children. This tomb can be seen in the church at Youghal. He was not to need it for another 30 years.

Lismore was considerably involved in the Confederate Wars, which broke out in 1641, and in 1645 a force of the Catholic Confederacy, commanded by Lord Castlehaven, sacked the town and castle. It is difficult to believe that once upon a time the tides of war rolled down this lovely valley. If the ghosts of the departed walked the banks of the Blackwater, they would be chieftains, ancient kings and ecclesiastics of Ireland (the heroes who waged its primeval wars and proclaimed its early faith and preserved with care for which posterity is grateful, its ancient art and history).

James 2nd stayed at Lismore Castle on his way from Dublin to Kinsale after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. Some restoration work was carried out by the 2nd Earl of Cork (1612 - 1694) and from then until 1820 its owners did very little to the castle. 

In 1753, the castle and its lands passed to the 4th Duke of Devonshire by reason of his marriage to Lady Charlotte Boyle in 1740, only surviving daughter and heiress of the 4th Earl of Cork (1695 - 1753). Their son, the 5th Duke of Devonshire (1748 - 1811) had the bridge over the River Blackwater built about 1775 to the designs of the Cork - born architect Thomas Ivory.

Information supplied with sincere thanks to Lismore Heritage / Tourist Office. For more information, please contact the office at (058) 54975 or visit their web site at  www.discoverlismore.com .

RATES

1. The Lismore Experience

Adult €4.50 Child €4.00 Student & Seniors €4.00 Family* €15.00 Groups of 20+ €3.50

2. Walking Tour of Lismore Town

Adult €5.00 Child €4.00 Student & Seniors €4.00 Family* €15.00 Groups of 20+ €3.50

3. The Lismore Experience and Town Tour together

Adult €8.00 Child €6.00 Student & Seniors €6.00 Family* €20.00 Groups of 20+ €5.50

* Family is two adults and up to 4 children

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