Lismore, Ireland is incredible! Our visit there and what we experienced was almost by accident. This type of experience is why I love traveling. So, how was it that we happened upon this place? Well, it all started with wanting to see the Lismore Castle.
The Lismore Castle
We had heard that the Lismore Castle was a must see attraction and since it was only about 20 miles away from Dungarvan, we figured it would be worth it to spend our morning there. So we set off towards Lismore and when we drove up to the city we saw the castle we had heard about (see the image above) and it was beautiful. This whole town is beautiful. We turned our car around and drove back to a spot on the road that would allow us to take pictures.
We then continued on into the town and everywhere we turned we saw old stone, changing fall leaves and colorful old buildings. The meadow leading up to the castle was also beautiful. As we drove up to the castle entrance, an employee told us the devastating news. The castle had closed last week for the season and would not open until the spring. He said he was sorry for the inconvenience but encouraged us to drive a few miles out of town and hike up a nature trail with the kids that offered scening views.
I have to admit that I was pretty frustrated that we wouldn’t be able to tour the castle. But, Katie and I talked and decided to go hike the nature trail. On the way we drove through a gorgeous, tree covered section of road. It was as if the trees were creating a beautiful green, yellow and orange tunnel. After we passed through the nature tunnel, we noticed the trail head off to the right and parked.
We started on the left side of the trail and walked for about a quarter of a mile and couldn’t help but be mesmerized by all of the beautiful green scenery. There were moss covered trees and beautiful slow running creeks. I asked Katie how long she thought we should hike this trail before turning back since our kids were starting to get hungry and she said we can go a little further. So we did and just up the trail we came across a moss-covered tunnel that appeared to be really old. Katie and I thought we had hit the jackpot with finding this bridge so we looked around and then set up to take a family photo. Little did we know that just around the corner we would see one of the coolest old towers ever.
The Ballysaggartmore (Lismore) Towers
Walking through the tunnel (we later found out from our waitress who used to be a Lismore tour guide, that this tunnel was actually the servants entrance) and to the right sat the incredible Ballysaggartmore or Lismore Towers! Built in the 1830’s, these gothic tours are breathtaking. Luckily, on this day we had them all to ourselves. Just up from the towers, we experienced a small tranquil waterfall, the creek from which ran under the towers bridge.
My family and I spent a lot of time here walking up around and under the towers. If only we would have had a picnic lunch packed, we could have enjoyed the site for a bit longer. After taking a few pictures and videos, we took the time to sit, ponder and take it all in. This was turning out to be a day that I would never forget.
We then hiked our way back down the trail we had come up and headed into town to grab a bite to eat. While at the restaurant, we spoke to our waitress about the cities incredible beauty and the towers that we had just witnessed. She then asked ” Did you follow the trail loop to see the Grand Lodge?” Surprised, I answered no and then quickly looked up what we had missed on our travel phone. I couldn’t believe we hadn’t followed the trail all the way around. Katie and I decided that we had to drive back to see the Lodge.
The Lismore Grand Lodge
We travelled back down the same road we had been once before and as we arrived at the trail head we went right this time rather then left in order to get there quickly. Below is a picture of what we saw and we are thrilled that we came back.
The story of this Grand Lodge goes like this “Local lore suggests that the grand entrance lodges were built as a prelude to an extravagant mansion that Keily-Ussher intended to build but never did as he ultimately ran out of funds due of their construction, and that his building pursuits were spurred on by his jealous wife who was envious of her sister in-law who lived at the stately Strancally Castle. However no contemporary account exists from the period.” –Source
We learned of this story from an information board posted near the site and decided that we needed to go see the Strancally Castle. If this story was true and there was a jealous family feud that had occurred, we needed to see the other castle.
The Strancally Castle
The Strancally Castle is still lived in, difficult to find and the main entrance gate is locked. However, there is a back entrance for deliveries and you can get a little peek of the residence from the road. This castle overlooks a large river and is surrounded by large trees. It was worth the drive and look and it is easy to see why Keily-Ussher was jealous.
Overall this turned out to be my favorite day in Ireland. It was an adventure that I will never forget and I look forward to visiting Lismore again and staying there for a week or so in order to explore the down and immerse myself in it’s history.