Clonmel, County Tipperary

With splendid views of the rugged Comeragh Mountains only a few miles to the south, Clonmel, whose Irish name means ‘honey meadow’, is one of Ireland’s most charming towns. It is Tipperary’s county town, with an intimate atmosphere within the remains of its old walls. The town’s two gates still stand at either end of the main street. The West Gate is relatively modern, built only in 1831, but the other, Main Guard, dates from 1674 and was built as a courthouse by the Earl of Ormonde. Between the gates the main street has a friendly, good-humoured face, with busy shops and pubs and handsome facades.

Fragments of the 14th-century town walls crop up in parts of the town, the best section being near Old St Mary`s Church. In 1650 they stoutly defied a three-week siege by Oliver Cromwell. Even more venerable is the Franciscan Friary, founded in 1269, which contains a tomb with the effigies of a knight and his lady and an inscription to the Butlers, Lords of Caher.

Clonmel is a real hidden gem that is worth a visit on your tours of Ireland.