With a wide-open landscape of hiking and bike trails, significant heritage sites, thrilling outdoor activities, organic gastronomic delights and rustic accommodation, Ballyhoura Country is once again, open for business. Prepare to stumble upon new, undiscovered places and experience unexpected moments of novelty!
Situated on the borders of counties Limerick, Cork and Tipperary, Ballyhoura Country is an area of undulating green pastures, woodlands, hills and mountains, adventures and surprises. The ancient, unspoilt landscape, combined with a modern, sustainable, zero-food waste ethos – and did we mention the friendliest of people?! – make it the perfect place to discover rural Ireland. As we now look ahead with confidence to a summer staycation, Ballyhoura has something for everyone – adventure-seekers, families, and the nomadic business traveller. The only difficulty may be choosing where to start!
Ballyhoura’s Award-Winning Mountain Bike Trails are nestled between counties Cork and Limerick, the most extensive network of its kind in Ireland; each section of the 98km of trails winds through lush forests, over hills and mountains, with a route for every level of experience. Or if water-based activities are more your thing, learn a new skill at Ballyhass Lakes Adventure Centre, home to Ireland’s largest wakeboarding cable park.
The breathtaking landscape alone of Ballyhoura Country brings a sense of calm, and is key to many of the amenities and meaningful experiences which enable visitors relax and unwind. Patrick Mulcahy, the famous Mindful Farmer, holds unique mindfulness and meditation weekend RetrEATs at Ballinwillin House & Farm in Mitchelstown to nourish the mind and body. Guests at the luxury 18th-century country house are encouraged to roam the 80 acres of rich pasture land in between meditation and mindfulness sessions and his handcrafted artisan meals.
Perhaps a Walking & Hiking Destination is more your style? In that case, tie up those laces and come explore the Walking Loops in Ballyhoura – quite simply a walker’s paradise – offering a wide variety of walking experiences from exploring riverbanks, deep forests and gurgling streams to rugged mountains, rich bogs, and mythical landscapes. Who knows what inspiring discoveries you may encounter on your route? There are 16 waymarked looped walks in the region, meaning there is something for everyone. To find your trails starting point and detailed information about the loop download Ballyhoura Trails Guide App available from both Apple & Google Play store. You can also join local Ballyhoura Bears Walking Club on of their Saturday morning, Thursday evening or Sunday walks.
The friendliness of Ballyhoura residents is legendary, while the area’s comprehensive hospitality and accommodation choices ranges from self-catering and B&B at Park South Accommodation in Doneraile (which overlooks three mountain ranges: the Ballyhouras, the Nagles and the Galtees), to the historic Longueville House in the Blackwater Valley, complete with its very own artisan cider, to the intimate Deebert House Hotel in Kilmallock, a leading advocate for sustainability. Biking enthusiasts will be keen to stay at Ireland’s Bike-Friendly Hotel, The Charleville Park Hotel. Gastronomists in Limerick can indulge in the superb menu at The Mustard Seed Country House or avail of a post-cycle refuel at Spruce and Willow, while Cork foodies can be captivated by the old-world charm and restful elegance of The Townhouse Café in Doneraile, a mere minute from the OPW Doneraile Court, Gardens and Wildlife Park, also now back open.
The Ballyhoura Garden Experience is not to be missed; highlights include the Terra Nova Fairy Garden (a magical, mystical day out for the family), Coolwater and Rockbarton.
“Visitors have a huge appreciation for the outdoor world, particularly since Covid-19, and ‘Ballyhoura Country’ is the perfect place to connect with the outdoors offering a rich experience of nature in this beautiful, unspoiled countryside. It is home to Europe’s largest mountain bike park and walkers can enjoy a range of waymarked trails and walks and many other outdoor activities. The sensational natural beauty, vibrant culture and warm welcome makes it the perfect place to take stock, to slow down and to reconnect with the people and things that really matter. With restrictions lifting in the coming period, people can’t wait to get out and explore the countryside and to meet their family and friends and Ballyhoura is the perfect location for a staycation this summer with its magnificent landscape, outdoor activities, fantastic accommodation options and wealth of amenities for visitors.” – Shauna Cunningham, Fáilte Ireland.