12 Jan Lismore, County Waterford
This genteel riverside town is dwarfed by Lismore Castle, perched romantically above the River Blackwater. Built in 1185 but remodelled in the 19th century, the castle is the Irish seat of the Duke of Devonshire and is closed to the public. However, you can visit the sumptuous gardens, which include a lovely riverside walk. Lismore Heritage Centre tells the story of St Carthage, who founded a monastery here in the 7th century. The town has two cathedrals dedicated to him. The Protestant Cathedral of St Carthage is the more interesting.
It dates from 1633 but incorporates older elements and was later altered to suit the Neo-Gothic tastes of the Victorians. There is some fine Gothic vaulting, and two stained glass windows in the south transept are by the Pre-Raphaelite artist, Sir Edward Burne-Jones.
Lismore is off the beaten track and a hidden gem worth a stop on your tours of Ireland.