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Historic Town Walks

Historic Town Walks

Clonakilty Self Guided Historic Town Walk

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Clonakilty Town
Cork
Republic of Ireland

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Crowning the twisty Clonakilty Bay, Clonakilty is one of Ireland’s best-known tourist destinations. This gateway to West Cork was the country’s first European Destination of Excellence, and it boasts some excellent historic and heritage attractions too.

Laid out by Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, in 1614, Clon – as the locals know it – is perfectly matched to a heritage trail. Beginning at Asna Square (named for Tadhg O’Donovan Asna, who undertook an ill-fated rising against British forces in 1798), the route winds its way past the quays and the site of Deasy’s brewery – run by a family as famous for their smuggling exploits as their beers and ales.

The trail also takes in the Fishmarket and an extension known as the Shambles, which was erected in 1833 to accommodate local butchers. From there, it ventures onto Emmet Square, with its Georgian doorways and garden dedicated to JFK. Dating from 1785, the Square was originally built for wealthy merchants, and has amassed a history of its own over the years. It’s here that you’ll find the distinctive statue of Clonakilty’s most famous export – Michael Collins.

Collins, one of the great Irish revolutionary heroes, attended a local school, spoke several times in front of O’Donovan’s Hotel, and was killed at nearby Beal na mBláth. His name still evokes huge passion in Clon – you’ll get an idea why, at the Michael Collins Centre in Timoleague.

Clonakilty looks like a living postcard. But its heritage is more varied than the image suggests. The town is a melting pot of music and musicians, and it’s possible to find live music most nights at a multitude of pubs (Clonakilty was home to the late Noel Redding, one-time bassist with the Jimi Hendrix Experience). And that’s not even getting started on the local black pudding!

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