Fermoy, County Cork

This prosperous market town straddles a tree-lined stretch of the River Blackwater on the main Cork - Dublin road. But crumbling barracks ruins mark Fermoy as a former British garrison. lt owes its origins to a farsighted Scots merchant, John Anderson, who bought the land in 1791, laid out the   town, provided the site for a barracks and started a mail-coach service between Cork and Dublin. By about 1800 Fermoy was a wealthy military centre with a busy social life. Anderson was also remarkable for his religious tolerance. He believed that ‘Irish Papists are as well entitled as Protestants to live all the days of their lives’.

The British Army is long gone, but reminders of the wealth the military and the mail-coach brought to the town still stand in its centrepiece, the handsome market house on the south side of Pearse Square. The high-arched entry to the stable yard of the Grand Hotel, on Ashe Quay, is a reminder of its days as a coaching inn. It was built in the early 1800s. Fermoy also has several charming 19th-century shop fronts.

Fermoy is an excellent centre for angling and touring the Blackwater valley and is worth a visit on your Ireland tours.