A sustainable, sensational foodie paradise.
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Blame the sub-tropical climate, rich pastures and pristine Atlantic waters for providing such high quality raw materials that this has become a sustainable, sensational foodie paradise.
Wonderful cheeses, award-winning black pudding, craft beers, the freshest seafood and some really great coffee are all to be sampled in the shops and farmers’ markets that dot landscape. It’s for this reason that these are just suggestions – around here, in foodie terms, the world really is your oyster.
This is a sample itinerary to offer suggestions and ideas for planning trips. You can contact your local Tourism Ireland representative for further information.
Nearest airports: Cork Airport, Shannon Airport
Total distance: 592km
We start our tour with a name synonymous with one of Ireland’s global exports: Jameson Whiskey. In Midleton, the Jameson Experience tour takes around 75 minutes, for a maximum of 35 people, and runs seven days a week. There’s a group rate of €15 per adult for 15+, and you’ll be given three whiskeys to taste. Open 10am-6pm, it is largely wheelchair accessible, apart from some areas of the working parts of the distillery. Pop into the Farmgate Restaurant and Country Store 350 metres away for bread and deli deliciousness.
From Midleton, it’s a 20-minute hop to Ballymaloe, one of the most famous cookery schools on the island. The café is open from 10am-5pm, for lunch and gift shopping.
Afternoon [38km, 34 mins]
Stick around. Ballymaloe offers cookery courses and demonstrations that run 1pm-5pm (there’s a wide variety from day to day), or take a wander around the grounds and definitely visit the gardens. Otherwise head to Cork, for a wealth of foodie treats, including the Butter Museum open Mar-Nov every day 10am-5pm, Nov-Mar Sat-Sun only 11am-3pm (although tours and off-season visits can also be arranged), and check out the Franciscan Well brewpub to check out the flourishing craft-beer scene, set in this historic location.
Overnight [38.6km, 39mins]
Stay at The Metropole Hotel, a 10-minute stroll to the city centre. Eat at Elbow Lane for micro-brewed beer matched with food, or Market Lane (reservations for groups of six or more, otherwise it’s walk-in) for local, artisan ingredients.
Get an early start for Cork’s culinary jewel, the English Market. It opens 8am-6pm Mon-Sat (except bank holidays), but it gets busy, so large groups should avoid the peak hours of 11am-4pm, especially Fri-Sat. The market is famous for its foodie wonders, including cheese, fish, meat, fruit and veg.
The next stop is a little town on the Wild Atlantic Way called Clonakilty, which is rightly famous for its black pudding. On Fridays 9am-2pm, you’ll find a farmers’ market, or just take an appetite-sharpening walk up Inchdoney Strand. Skibbereen, next, has a farmers’ market on Saturdays (9.30am-2pm), perfect for a browse and a coffee, before moving on to Schull. There is also a full-day option from here, though. Good Things at Skibbereen sometimes run all-day cookery courses (the group sizes are small: 6-12) between 10.30-5pm, which means an early departure from Cork and heading straight to the overnight in Bantry.
Lunch [30.9km, 30 mins from Clonakilty]
If you can’t manage a full day for Good Things, don’t worry. The café is our lunch stop (12pm-3pm). Call ahead for group bookings to try out the locally sourced, seasonal menu.
Afternoon [23.4km, 23 mins]
We’re just a short drive from Schull, past Roaring Water Bay. Just a mile out of town is Ferguson’s family farm, where they make Gubbeen cheese and all manner of meat products. There’s a farmers’ market on Sundays 10am-2pm from Easter to the end of September, where the producers sell their wares and you can pick up a picnic. Take a walk around the pretty town and along the beach.
Overnight [24.8km, 26 mins]
Tonight’s stop is The Maritime Hotel Bantry. For dinner on Saturday evenings, head up the coast (5.7km, 7 mins) to Manning’s Emporium Café in Ballylickey, for tapas made with local produce and a browse around the deli. Open Sat 6.30pm-9pm. Or tuck into a veritable feast at O’Connor’s Seafood Restaurant of Bantry, finishing with a nightcap and some live music in the village.
After breakfast, take a walk around Bantry. There are lots of easy and signposted walks and a trip to Bantry House is exquisite. Pop into Organico for breads and a café, then make for Toons Bridge Dairy in Macroom, [48km, 47 mins] makers of Ireland’s first buffalo mozzarella. There’s a shop and pizzeria (Fri-Sat 12.30-4, 6-9; Sun 12.30–6; closed in winter), and groups of six or more can be booked in advance. Alternatively, go straight to Longueville House Hotel, around 90 minutes from Bantry [95.9km]. This Georgian house offers tours of its walled garden, orchards and distillery, followed by tastings of Longueville House Cider, Cider Mór and Apple Brandy. Tours can be arranged for groups of 12 or more, with morning coffee or lunch.
Lunch [56.4km, 55mins from Toons Bridge, 95.9km from Bantry]
Even without the tour, Longueville House Hotel is a delightful setting for a light lunch (Wed-Sat) and a walk around the beautiful grounds.
Afternoon [15.8km, 17 mins]
Next stop, Kanturk to visit McCarthy’s traditional butchers, for its prize-winning black pudding. Stretch your legs with a walk up to the 17th century ruined castle (entrance is free).
[53km, 53 mins] The reason for the walk and light lunch should be clear when you arrive in Adare at the Old Creamery Olde World Store, and Miss Crumpet’s Tea Rooms. The afternoon tea is a feast of sandwiches, scones and cakes. With a group, book at least 24 hours in advance, and they take up to 40 people. Stop in the shop for fudge, gifts and homeware.
Overnight [22.2km, 20 mins]
Our stop is the Clayton Hotel Limerick, on the banks of the Shannon. Eat at Cornstore, a short walk from the hotel, serving produce supplied from their own garden in Ballingarry, County Limerick.
Take a look around Limerick, and drop into the 150-year-old Milk Market (Fri-Sun) for locally produced meat, cheese, bakery, jams and chutneys; and Urban Co-op – a community co-operative grocery store on Roxboro Road, about 10 minutes’ drive from the hotel. The shop stocks lots of local artisan products (it opens at 10am).
[23.8km, 24 mins] Our next stop is St Tola Goat Farm, on the Burren Food Trail, County Clare. There’s a museum and visitor centre – and lots of goats! Tours can be arranged in advance for any size of group; they last 1-1hr 30 mins and include a look around the farm, plus a cheese-making demonstration. The shop is open Mon-Fri 10am-4pm.
Lunch [49.4km, 52 mins]
Country Choice Deli in Nenagh serves deliciously light lunches 12.30-3.30. It seats 35, but the well-stocked shop is great for browsing if you need to go in relays.
Afternoon [112km, 1hr 31]
Our last stop of the tour is Goatsbridge Trout Farm, County Kilkenny. Monks fished these waters 800 years ago, and Goatsbridge trout farm has been run by the same family for three generations. You can call into the visitor centre and someone will show you around, although you can book more official group visits, with lunch included, too, if needed. Open Mon-Sat 9am-5.30. It’s a tranquil spot – the perfect, peaceful way to round off a packed few days.
This is a sample itinerary to offer suggestions and ideas for planning trips. You can contact your local Tourism Ireland representative here for further information. Please note, any mention of specific product on this itinerary is meant to be used only as an example and does not represent an endorsement of that product by Tourism Ireland.