Surrounded by mountain ranges and threaded through with rivers, South Tipperary is a truly scenic county in the heart of Ireland.
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South Tipperary’s three main towns are located on the banks of the River Suir – Ireland’s second longest river. Each town has benefited from its waterside location in different ways. Carrick on Suir has a marine on the banks of the river. Further down the shores, in Clonmel, rowing and kayaking clubs have sprung up. Between the two towns runs a scenic riverside walking route. In Cahir, the river is bursting with trout and salmon. This stretch is said to be Europe’s finest spot for wild brown trout – a fact that attracts anglers from March to September.
Mountains rise majestically on all four sides of South Tipperary: there are the Comeragh and Knockmealdown ranges to the south, the Galtee Mountains to the west, the Hollyford and Slieveardagh Hills to the north, and Slievenamon to the east. At 919m, Galtymore is the county’s biggest mountain – and a challenge undertaken by many climbers every year.
For those less inclined to lace on their walking boots, there is a range of scenic drives to follow, which are signposted and mapped (ask in a tourist office for information). The routes are designed to take in the landscape’s natural beauty with stops at heritage sites. They’re between 50 and 100km (about 2-3 hours’ driving) each. If you’d like to spend a day exploring, look out for marked routes including Slievenamon drive, the Cashel to Kilkenny drive, the ClogheenVee/Ballyporeen drive, the Suir drive, the Glen of Aherlow drive and the Bianconi drive.
Flora and Fauna
South Tipperary is renowned for the mature trees and woodlands of ancient estates such as Ballingarrane, Marlfield and Glenbawn. The remains of these landscaped grounds have been preserved, and are certainly worth a leisurely visit in any season, especially autumn. Take the kids, and get them deer-spotting – the county’s woodlands are home to wild animals including deer, fox, hare, badger and red squirrel.
Throughout the county, from mountains to swamps, an abundance of wild flowers and heather covers the landscape. It’s an important aspect of our surroundings, and one that the local people don’t neglect. For example, experts are currently hard at work re-colonising the cutaway bogs surrounding Slieveardagh with flora and fauna traditionally associated with this habitat. In Emly, the community has developed wildlife gardens, and in Fethard the Clashawley river was cultivated to provide willow plantations for the basket industry.
The man-made lake at Marlfield Lake & Wild Bird Sanctuary has become a renowned spot for birdwatchers. Since 1769, when it was developed from a natural swamp, the lake has attracted many species of wildfowl including the common coot, waterhen, mallard, widgeon, pochard and teal. Designated as a wildfowl conservation area, it has become a recognised breeding ground for many species of birds.
For botanists, ornithologists and lepidopterists, a visit to the Wilderness Gorge is unmissable. This area of great natural beauty contains rare plants and species of birds, not to mention 60% of Ireland’s butterfly species.
Explore South Tipp’s breathtaking landscapes on bike, foot, or even by car.
Surrounded by mountain ranges and dotted with heritage sites, South Tipp makes a great destination for walkers, hikers and cyclists. You can experience the diverse scenery from the top of a mountain or the rushing waters of the River Suir. Make the most of the county’s facilities to discover our natural pleasures!
If walking, hiking or cycling is your thing, you’ll find the county has plenty of mapped and developed routes. The Glen of Aherlow, the Vee, and the Nire Valley are popular destinations, and there is a number of walking clubs organising weekly outings from all the main towns. The Glen of Aherlow and the Nire Valley also host walking festivals every year.
Coillte, the Irish forestry organisation, has a number of recreation sites, such as Caher Park and Glengarra Wood. The parks are open all year round, with clearly marked routes for casual walkers, car parking, and picnic facilities. There are additional routes at Bansa Wood and Killanboy Wood near Clogheen.