There is a great variety of outdoor activities in the area.
There are 3 equestrian centres within easy driving distances of the house, Athlacca Polo cross Centre, Ballyhoura Horse Trecking who offer guided cross country trails and Cacherconlish Equestrian center offers lessons and 4 hour trecking.
The region is famed for its hunting clubs.
Clay Bird Shooting
Lazy Dog Ltd. is a clay bird and indoor rifle range centre located in the Ballintubber, Kilfinanne, Co Limerick and is a perfect way to be introduced to the sport. The centre offers a variety of shooting layouts catering for novice shooter and the very advanced. A qualified shooter is available for tuition, covering everything from safety to gun handling.
Traversing a landscape rich in geology, archaeology and wildlife, Ballyhoura country offers spectacular walking in the ancient and unspoilt landscapes of north Cork and east Limerick and accounts for 10% of Ireland’s Looped Walks in Ireland.
Whether your interests lie in short looped walks or long hikes along the Ballyhoura way, whether you prefer guided walks or to organise your own walks independently, walkers of all abilities will be invigorated by the sheer beauty and tranquillity of the area.
Path Way Porters is a unique service that will transfer your luggage to your next nights accommodation along your walking route holiday. Kevin can also organise guides along the way should you so wish and walking suggestions. Susie our Local also takes small groups on guided walks or refer to our Event Calendar for Walking Clubs Ballyhoura Bears
The Ballyhoura Trails Guide app is your personal guide to the loop walks of Ballyhoura Country, where a world of outdoor adventure, history and cultural heritage is waiting to be explored. Available in four languages including English, Spanish, German and French making it accessible to visitors from across the globe. Download it here.
Click the following links for more information on the various walks on offer:
Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails
Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails, is the largest trail network of it’s kind in Ireland consisting of 98 km of trails including forest road climbs, tight twisty single track with loads of ups and downs, board walk, tight turns and technical rocky bits are guaranteed to leave you smiling.
Each of the loops are way marked in one direction and are laid out as ‘stacked loops’ with each loop leading onto the next and rejoining it on the way back. Read the detailed trail information signs at the trailhead to pick the trail suitable for you. The grading system used indicates the minimum level of fitness and competence required for each loop.
Use of the trails is free but there is a 5 euro per day car park charge. ( coins only) Toilets, showers and bike wash facilities are also available at the car park.
Bike hire is available on site at Trail Riders
The trails range from the moderate 6km Greenwood loop to the demanding Castlepook loop, over 50km in length! The loops between are Mountrussell 17km loop, Garrane 35km loop and Streamhill 41km loop.
The routes are designed for cyclists of all abilities and ages.
Route 1 – 70 kms: 5 hours; Route 1A – 22 kms: 1½ hours
Route 1 is a circuit around the periphery of the Ballyhoura Mountains . The road follows the contours of the mountain foothills to the town of Doneraille, where there are ample opportunities for refreshment. There is one major climb on the eastern leg of the circuit; the mountain pass between Glenosheen and Glenanaar. Ascending to 307 metres you will encounter breathtaking scenery here to reward your efforts.
Route 2 – 83 kms: 5½ hours; Route 2A – 16 kms: 1 hour Route; 2B – 41 kms: 3 hours; Route 2C – 64 kms : 4+ hours
Route 2 is a trip east to the Glen of Aherlow. There are fine views of Seefin, the highest peak of the Ballyhouras and of Galtymore Mountain. Having negotiated the first hill at Slievereagh you arrive into the beginnings of the Glen of Aherlow where you can decide which of the shortcut options is appropriate. Continuing on into the heartland of the glen, past the villages of Galbally and Lisvarane you will finally encounter the iconic and very steep climb of Aherlow. Although not a particularly long climb, the tortuous hairpins and the magnificent views from the Christ the King statue make this “one to remember” for those who complete the entire circuit.
Route 3 – 62 kms: 4 hours
Route 3 is a leisurely spin to the amenity area at the scenic Lough Gur. The neolithic peoples who first settled there have left behind their ceremonial stone circle for us to ponder. Other castles and archaeological remains are also to be seen nearby. Nowadays you will encounter the locals strolling and enjoying a picnic. The area between Lough Gur and Knockainey is composed of short steep hills, but elsewhere on the route the gradients are gentle. The roads are quiet and relatively traffic free. Watch out for the De Valera cottage, childhood home of Ireland’s third president.
Route 4 – 70 kms: 3+ hours
Route4 is a shorter spin around some pleasant wooded hills near the townlands of Glenroe and Castle Oliver. You will pass the ornate gatehouses of the privately owned castle as you cruise along these secluded roads. Refreshments may be had at Ardpatrick or Kilfinane.
Ballyhoura’s Cycling Hub
It is the largest of the 12 hubs around the country with four cycling routes of varying in distance from 16 km to 82 km. The Cycling hub in Kilmallock offers quiet country roads along some of the most scenic and beautiful countryside in Ireland. In addition to the scenery, you will encounter some of the country’s best Neolithic and medieval history in some of the villages and towns on your route.
The Limerick Greenway is a 40km off-road walking and cycling route along an old railway line that connects the three market towns of Rathkeale, Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale in West Limerick. Traversing the Greenway is a spectacular journey through time, heritage and nature, giving the visitor the opportunity to learn more about the people and environment of one of Ireland’s hidden jewels, West Limerick. Along this route, close to Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, you will find Norman castles, abbeys, medieval ruins, old railway stations, a viaduct, the Barnagh Tunnel and breath-taking scenery!
Kilfinane Outdoor Education Centre provides quality Outdoor Education courses for School, Youth & Adult Groups along with a range of Adventure Sports offers an excellent range of courses for Adults and Children. In the summer months, it offers Summer Camps for younger children aged 8-13yrs and Teen Adventure Programmes for 14-17yr olds. Advance booking is essential for all the courses. Activities include Canoeing, Kayaking, Raft building, River walking, Rock climbing, Abseiling, Indoor Climbing, Hillwalking, Orienteering, Team Challenges & Campcraft.
Terra Nova is one of Ireland’s best known small, privately owned gardens and is a firm favourite with garden visitors of all ages. A half-acre that appears so much larger due to the use of weaving pathways, imaginative features and an ingenious use of space, nothing goes to waste here in this lush oasis, though it is without doubt, a plant lovers garden, it offers so much more. Terra Nova’s magical fairy experience begins once you enter and there’s plenty of Fairy magic here and many can feel it. Some find it uplifting, others find it calming and some have even been moved to tears! This garden has a soul, it can’t be explained, it has to be experienced. A happy garden that will make you smile – come and see and feel it for yourself.
Terra Nova Fairy Gifts is Ireland’s leading fairy gift shop and stocks the largest range of fairy houses, doors and fairy garden accessories in the country which are also incorporated in the garden to make this garden visit truly fairy magical.
Coolwater Garden a wonderfully, artistically designed garden on half an acre, steps to the beat of a different drum with its breathtaking Water Garden, numerous alpine troughs crammed with choice specimens and a chimerical West Garden.
Rockbarton Garden Centre is set in an historic and beautiful 18th Century courtyard at Holycross, Bruff, Co. Limerick and is a family run business by Lynda & Bryan Sheehan, along with their children.They run a variety of lifestyle and wellness gardening themed events and classes.Some of the events that they host include annual Easter Egg Hunt, Christmas Boutique Fair and seasonal Christmas Wreath Workshops. Throughout the growing season children’s gardening classes are on going which are inspired by her own family learning to grow some of their own food.
Heritage & History
The Thomas Fitzgerald Centre is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Fitzgerald, grandfather of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The story connecting the rural town of Bruff, in County Limerick, and the 35th President of the United States of America began in 1852. It was then, following the great famine, that a young emigrant named Thomas Fitzgerald left his native home in Bruff, and made his way to America in search of a better life.The Thomas Fitzgerald Centre, formerly the old Courthouse was officially dedicated in memory of Thomas Fitzgerald on the 21st of June 2013 by Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Every generation of the Fitzgerald Kennedy family has visited their ancestral home in Bruff.
The Centre now displays an array of photographs, including some from the visit of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy to Ireland in 1963, the visit of Caroline Kennedy to Bruff in 2013, and also includes photographs of various members of the Fitzgerald Kennedy Family. The Centre is also home to a hand-painted mural depicting the Fitzgerald family tree, the only one of its type in the world. A life-size bronze statue of John F Kennedy was unveiled here in May 2019. The bible that is part of the statue is the one his great-grandfather, Thomas Fitzgerald, brought with him when he emigrated from Bruff to Boston in 1852, and it was the same bible that was used by JFK when he was inaugurated as US President in January 1961.
The De Valera Museum and Bruree Heritage Centre is dedicated to Eamon de Valera [1882-1975], first president of Ireland and one of the country’s most famous statesmen, it houses a unique collection of personal belongings of this historic figure, as well as a wide range of articles which record life in Bruree in the early 20th century. This visitor centre is located where Eamonn de Valera grew up. The cottage in which he lived is now preserved and the national school he attended houses a museum dedicated to his memory. The Heritage Centre uses audio visuals, graphic panels, set pieces and displays of personal memorabilia to tell the story of the village’s greatest son and of the area which is credited with forming his character. Currently only open by private appointment.
Lough Gur is to the the north of Bruff, a horseshoe-shaped lake bounded on three sides by hills. Bronze Age objects found in and near the lake have made it the most important Bronze Age site in Ireland. Every major museum in the world has at least one artefact from the lake. In the 1840s and ‘50s, the archaeology of the Lough Gur area was damaged by treasure hunters and as a result, many artefacts were lost. Lough Gur is a haven for swans, ducks, and wildfowl, and has an interesting variety of wild animals. Its visitor centre is open daily from 10am to 5pm.
Grange stone circle is also known as Lios na Grainsi (Irish for “stones of the sun”). Grange is Ireland’s largest stone circle, consisting of 113 stones. Built ca 2100 BC it is over 150 feet in diameter. A post hole found in the very centre of the enclosure indicates that the circle was measured out from the central point and is the reason for its near-perfect shape. It is surrounded by an earthen bank which in places id three to four feet high and makes it look more like a form of henge monument than a conventional stone circle. Aligned with the rising sun on the day of the summer solstice the sun shines directly in the centre of the circle. It is a must-see attraction when visiting Bruff.
Kilmallock Medevial town fortified in 1375 with 5 impressive towers hints at the wealth of this once thriving town. Kilmallock is an important Norman town and was at the centre of Ireland’s political development from the 13th through to the 17th centuries, a history that is evident through the rich architectural heritage that is the town’s national monuments. It is an attractive town of great cultural and heritage value, deriving its name from a monastery founded there by St. Mocheallóg in the late 6th/early 7th century. The medieval town was a major centre for religion and subsequently for trade and commerce. It was also politically significant as it was a stronghold of the Earls of Desmond. This dominance is evident in the wealth of medieval buildings that survive to the present day creating a unique urban landscape. These include the 13th century Collegiate Parish Church and the Dominican Priory, over 1200m of the medieval town wall, including a town gate, the 15th century King’s Castle standing astride the main street and 16th-century houses of the wealthy town merchants.
Doneraile Park comprises approximately 166 hectares and is an outstanding example of an 18th century landscaped park in the ‘Capability Brown’ style. Mature groves of deciduous trees, several restored water features and a number of deer herds can be viewed along the many pathways within the Park. The pathways are generally accessible for people with special needs. Doneraile Court, the former residence of the St. Leger family, is a stunning centrepiece of one of Ireland’s most beautiful estates. Located on the banks of the Awbeg river in north Co. Cork, the house dates from the 1720s, when it was built by Arthur St. Leger, the first Viscount Doneraile and father of the renowned Lady Freemason. The house was modified extensively in the 19th century by later generations of St. Legers, creating the imposing and characterful building that can be enjoyed today. The kitchen wing from this period now serves as the home of the Doneraile Court tearooms and is a perfect way to start or finish your visit.