Flavours of the south: a food inspired trip idea

Driving Driving
330 Miles
4 days

Get set for a mouthwatering tour around the south of Ireland, taking in the rich food culture of counties Cork, Limerick and Tipperary

Feeling hungry? You’re in the right place. We begin our food tour in the historic medieval town of Youghal, before winding through counties Cork, Limerick and Tipperary. Along the way, you’ll meet the producers, sample their flavours and see the passion and dedication of Ireland’s artisan food community for yourself.

Flavours of the south

In search of tastes in East Cork

Travelling with the ocean by your side, discover the distinct flavours and exciting producers that have made East Cork a top destination for food.

A driving 30 mins
The beach at Youghal

Seaside delights in Youghal

Youghal's enviable position where the River Blackwater meets the sea on Ireland's south coast has lent it an intriguing history. This is a place that has attracted the attention of everyone from the Vikings to the Victorians, who came here in the 19th century to enjoy the quiet of the surrounding beaches. Today, Youghal is a lively seaside town and a gateway to Ireland's Ancient East. Take a guided walking tour to discover the historic fables and intriguing facts surrounding Youghal before discovering the town's foodie side. Like the sound of seared scallops, grilled black sole, rock oysters or seafood chowder? Head to Aherne's Seafood Restaurant where you'll find a bounty of ocean delights, but make sure to leave room for something sweet – afternoon tea at the Walter Raleigh Hotel is a treasure-trove of tasty delights with petite sandwiches, mini fruit scones and delicate cakes.

If you have more time

Take a break at the Cliff House Hotel in nearby Waterford. It clings to the edge of a ridge overlooking Ardmore Bay, and its Michelin-starred restaurant is a favourite go-to for foodies.

B driving 20 mins
Ballymaloe

Ireland's cooking royalty

Craft and cookery go hand in hand in the village of Shanagarry, which is as famous for its pottery by Stephen Pearce as it is for its renowned cookery school. It's here that you'll find the world-famous Ballymaloe, which attracts budding chefs from all over the planet to its hallowed kitchens! You can opt for a short weekend course in everything from "Afternoon Tea and Cakes" to "Summer Foraging". But if you prefer to consume rather than create, head over to Ballymaloe House, one of Ireland's best country houses. Here, surrounded by stunning gardens and using the very best homegrown produce, three-course lunches and five-course dinners are served to the delight of guests, many of whom make a weekend stay of it.

If you have more time

Detour to the tiny village of Ballycotton to watch the local fishermen offload their catch, and if you have time, you could take the boat trip to Ballycotton Island Lighthouse. It's worth it for the view alone.

C driving 25 mins
Sage Restaurant

Incredible local flavours

Midleton is your next stop – this small east Cork town has got a big foodie pedigree. Every Saturday, some of the island's top food producers gather for the farmers' market – a perfect place to get the inside scoop on Irish food's next big thing. Meet some of the artisan producers, scoop up some cheese and enjoy the community atmosphere at this unique event. Great restaurants including the acclaimed Sage and the long-standing Farmgate have made Midleton a food destination in its own right, but the town also has a big whiskey heritage and is home to Jameson Irish Whiskey. Drop into the Jameson Experience and take the guided tour of the Old Midleton Distillery or go for the Behind the Scenes Tour with visits to the Micro Distillery, Cooperage and Distiller's Cottage.

If you have more time

Enjoy the ambience of afternoon tea at Castlemartyr Resort – it's a special treat.

D
The English Market

Cork city is full of culinary delights

Next stop, the English Market in the heart of Cork city. This Victorian gem has been faithfully serving food to the people of Cork for over a century and is a go-to for great cheeses, charcuteries and award-winning patés and terrines. Pay a visit to Frank Hederman for some of the most sublime smoked fish around, before heading upstairs to the Farmgate Café for a gourmet lunch. You'll get a great sense of Cork's esteemed food culture at the intriguing Cork Butter Museum, which traces the industry's history back to its very early days. And if you're looking for somewhere for dinner, you've come to the right place – match craft beers with culinary creativity at Elbow Lane, feast on some of Europe's finest vegetarian food at Café Paradiso or try the seafood delights of the Fish Bar at Electric. An ideal way to end a foodie day? Try a craft beer or stout at the excellent Franciscan Well Brewpub.

If you have more time

Sample the Cork Tasting Trail from Fabulous Food Trails – it's a great way to meet the people who are fuelling Cork's lively food scene.

Whet your appetite for West Cork

Embark on a mouth-watering trip into the heart of West Cork, famous throughout Europe for its excellent cheese and gourmet hideouts.

E
Baltimore

Good morning Baltimore

The relaxed town of Baltimore encapsulates the laid-back coastal way of life that West Cork is famous for. Yachts bob in the harbour, locals enjoy huge plates of seafood on terraces, and visitors pass through on their way to the islands of Sherkin and Cape Clear, as well as Lough Hyne. You can enjoy delicious high-quality dishes at the popular Mews restaurant in the village, enjoy a waterfront pizza at La Jolie Brise while watching the harbour hubbub, or tuck into delicious local seafood at Caseys of Baltimore. And while you're in town, make sure to visit Dún na Séad castle, which tells the fascinating story of the Sack of Baltimore, when the village was attacked by pirates and more than 100 people were dragged away to the slave markets of North Africa.

Farmers' market treats

The Ferguson family farm near Schull in West Cork produces some of the best regarded artisan food in Ireland, from its famous semi-soft cheese to wonderful hams, salamis and puddings. Sample them all at Schull’s farmers’ market (Sundays from Easter to late September) and in local shops.

F driving 45 mins
Kinsale

Gourmet seafood by the sea

Kinsale is a place of pure pleasure, where palm trees sway in the summer and sailing enthusiasts converge in great restaurants, relaxed seafood bars and traditional old pubs. The annual food festival in October draws visitors from all over the world, but Kinsale is a joy to visit at any time of the year. Enjoy a casual lunch in the Fishy Fishy Café, a laid-back dinner in the Black Pig Wine bar or go upscale at Bastion with Michelin Bib Gourmand dining that uses the finest local ingredients. After that, Kinsale's friendly pubs are waiting to serve you up a pint of Guinness, known around the island as the "black stuff"!

If you have more time

If you've a sweet tooth make your way straight to Diva Boutique Bakery and Café in Ballinspittle. Truly delicious.

G
Clonakilty Blackpudding

From seafood to black pudding

As home of the famous Clonakilty Blackpudding, it's no surprise that the friendly town of Clonakilty is included on our foodie trail. You'll find it on the menu at pubs and restaurants everywhere, while smoked fish and seafood speaks of the town's location at the head of Clonakilty Bay on the Wild Atlantic Way. And if you like traditional music this place is a must, featuring great live music sessions nearly every night of the week. The perfect day? Take a walk on nearby Inchydoney Strand, feast on a seafood platter in An Súgan traditional pub, then head to Scannells for some foot-tapping tunes.

If you have more time

Stop for lunch at Pilgrim's in Rosscarbery, it's a fabulous little spot with a loyal following who flock here for its seasonal, local produce.

Continue your culinary trail across Cork and Limerick

See the landscapes that have created some of the most prestigious food on the island of Ireland, from outstanding mozzarella to award-winning black pudding.

H driving 1 hr 40 mins
The church at Durrus, West Cork

Durrus and Macroom

Durrus, a pretty village on the wild, rugged and remote Sheep’s Head Peninsula is home to the Good Things Café and Cookery School. Sample the fish soup or let Carmel Somers teach you how to cook a lobster first-hand. Just outside Macroom, in the heart of the Cork countryside, you’ll find a dairy making Ireland’s first buffalo mozzarella cheese. Toons Bridge Dairy produces a deliciously milky mozzarella, as well as a range of other cheeses, all of which you can sample at their shop and café.

If you have more time

On the way from Durrus to Macroom, stop off in the buzzing town of Bantry, which is famous for its great seafood restaurants and excellent Friday Food Market.

I driving 53 mins
Jack & Tim McCarthy

A foodie hero in a town called Kanturk

Nestled between two hills, and the rivers Allow and Dallow, the town of Kanturk is surrounded by the type of countryside that has made West Cork such an exceptional producer of cheese. But in Kanturk, the local delicacy is Cork's other famous food hero – black pudding. At McCarthy's traditional butchers in town, Jack McCarthy has created a black pudding that is so exceptional it has won the prestigious old medal from the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Blackpudding.

If you have more time

The gracious Longueville House Hotel in Mallow is well known for its cuisine and its cider, but it also produces a wonderful apple brandy from apples grown on the estate. Pick up a bottle and stick around for afternoon tea in the drawing room.

J driving 22 mins
1826, Adare

A little village in the Limerick heartlands

It's hard not to fall for the charms of the village of Adare. Lined with rows of gorgeous thatched cottages, Adare draws loyal locals and curious foodies alike. The pretty restaurant of 1826 Adare is a favourite, thanks to the rustic cottage interior and a menu that is packed with local produce and creative flair. The cottage theme continues at the excellent Wild Geese Restaurant, while you can surround yourself in the atmosphere of an old Irish home at Miss Crumpet's Tea Rooms with tea and scones served in the traditional style.

If you have more time

Set your sights on the The Mustard Seed restaurant at Echo Lodge in Ballingarry. Set within a gracious country house, this award-winning restaurant is a delightful place for an evening of creative Irish cooking. Our pick? The Ballinwillin loin of lamb with sweet breads, nasturtiam vegal and a sugar snap, baby carrot and elderflower gel!

K
The Milk Market, Limerick

Living it up in Limerick city

You're arrived in Limerick city, so head straight to the Milk Market. There’s all manner of artisan produce under the hi-tech roof covering this 150-year-old Limerick institution. You’ll find everything from Pete Nibbering’s creamy handmade Kilshanny Gouda, to pickled herrings from Silver Darlings and rustic breads from Vi Russell of the Sunflower Bakery. Sample one of the tasty range of savory pies from Brid Ni Mathuna’s Piog Pies – the salmon and haddock is highly recommended. After a spot of city sightseeing (don’t miss the formidable King John’s Castle), you’ll have earned your Dingle crab linguine at Freddy’s Bistro.

Don't miss

Tuck into a dish of green eggs and ham at Canteen in Limerick city. Chef Paul Williams obviously picked up a thing or two during his time in Heston Blumenthal’s kitchens, but he brings his own magic twist to this modest little spot on Mallow Street.

Perfect produce in Tipperary

The rich and fertile landscape of County Tipperary ensures that the goods it produces are of the finest quality – and it's certainly reflected in the mouthwatering food on offer.

L driving 17 mins
The Golden Vale in Tipperary

It's not such a long way to Tipperary

Heading in to the Golden Vale of Tipperary, you'll find the landscapes stretch out in vast undulating hills of green. Of course, no trip to Tipperary would be complete without mentioning the world-famous Cashel Blue cheese. The Grubb family have been making it at their farm since 1984, and it’s now available everywhere from New Zealand to New York. In its home town of Cashel, though keep an eye out for this blue cows' milk cheese on menus and cheese boards at eateries like Chez Hans, which serves up great modern flavours in a converted Victorian Gothic church.

If you have more time

For over 30 years, Peter and Mary Ward have been promoting the pleasures of good, wholesome cooking at Country Choice delicatessen and café in Nenagh. A must-visit while in the area...

M
The Old Convent, Clogheen

Cahir cares about its cuisine

You'll get a great sense of local produce at the apple farm just outside the town of Cahir. This is where Con Traas produces his award-winning Karmine Apple Juice, a blend of Karmijn de Sonnaville and Bramley Seedling apples. Stock up on some of Con’s produce at the farm shop, including cider vinegar and various jams made from fruit grown on the farm. For something delightfully delectable, pop into the Old Convent in Clogheen, a small village outside Cahir. Chef Dermot Gannon’s Irish artisan tasting menu is a love letter to the produce of this region. Savor the Aga Roast Nenagh Hereford Beef Filet or go veggie with Ballyhoura Mushroom Puff Pastry, fondant potato and parsnip purée. Finish off your food trip with a visit to Cahir Castle, one of the largest castles in Ireland. And afterwards? Carry on exploring Ireland's Ancient East, for even more adventure...

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