Landlocked Tipperary boasts the sort of fertile soil that farmers dream of. The central area of the county is low-lying, but rolling hills spill over from adjoining counties and an upper-crust gloss still clings to traditions here, with fox hunts in full legal cry during the winter season.
'There once was a city called Limerick…' Umm, no, can't think of anything that rhymes with Limerick. And no one is quite sure why those humorous five-line verses are named after this Irish city, though the term dates from the late 19th century. Limerick straddles the tidal reaches of Ireland's longest river, the Shannon, where it swings west to join the Shannon Estuary.
It's little wonder that Cashel (Caiseal Mumhan) is such a fabulous draw (the Queen included it on her historic visit in 2011). The iconic religious buildings that crown the blustery summit of the Rock of Cashel seem to emerge from the rocky landscape itself and the neighbouring market town of Cashel rewards rambles around its charming streets.
Over-touted as 'Ireland's prettiest village', Adare's fame centres on its string of thatched cottages built by the 19th-century English landlord, the Earl of Dunraven, for workers constructing Adare Manor. Today the pretty cottages house craft shops and fine restaurants; while prestigious golf courses nearby cater to golf enthusiasts.
Tipperary (Tiobrad Árann) has a storied name, largely due to the WWI song. And indeed, you may find it a long way to Tipperary as the N24 and a web of regional roads converge on the centre (there's no bypass) and traffic often moves at the same speed as the armies at the Somme.
An appealingly quaint little village with impressive medieval ruins scattered about its compact, linear centre, Fethard (pronounced 'feathered') is located 14km north of Clonmel on the River Clashawley. One of Ireland's most complete medieval town walls is the village's principal feature.
Glen of Aherlow
The broad, fertile valley of the Glen of Aherlow, slung between the wooded Slievenamuck Hills and the shapely Galtee Mountains, is the most scenic part of County Tipperary and one of Ireland's hidden delights. A beautiful and leisurely 25km scenic drive through the Glen is signposted from Tipperary town.
The small town of Askeaton was once an important settlement, a status signified by the impressive ruins of Desmond Castle, Askeaton Friary and several other medieval buildings. These days, the town looks a bit drab, dusty and rundown, and sadly the ruined castle is still undergoing a lengthy renovation; it's not usually open to the public unless accompanied by a guide.
The area surrounding this picturesque, horseshoe-shaped lake is rich in neolithic, Bronze Age and medieval archaeological sites. Short walks along the lake's edge lead to burial mounds, standing stones, ancient enclosures and other points of interest (admission free) and the whole area is ideal for walking and picnics.