Things To Do

Things To Do

Things to do in The Blackwater Valley, Waterford City & East Cork

Blackwater Valley

For more details on Lismore & The Blackwater Valley visit…

Lismore Castle

Lismore Castle, which dates from 1170, is a one of a kind and a repository of extraordinary history: from walls marked by Cromwellian cannon balls to the days it was owned by Sir Walter Raleigh to Cecil Beaton, Lucian Freud, Fred Astaire and JFK, all of whom slept a night or more in this private castle on the banks of the River Blackwater.

While the Castle itself is a private residence the historic gardens are open to the public throughout the year. Meandering paths lead you through this informal setting of trees and shrubs and out onto open lawns. The stately yew avenue in the heart of the garden is much older than the garden itself. From the spring flowering magnolias and rhododendrons through to the later flowering shrubs and borders there is always something in bloom.

The Castle Arts gallery, is housed in the once-derelict West wing of Lismore Castle, currently hosts one major exhibition per year, as well as a dynamic programme of tours, workshops and other arts related events. Visitors are also invited to stroll through the beautiful Gardens at Lismore Castle and enjoy several pieces of contemporary sculpture that have been installed on permanent display.

Great Houses of the Blackwater Valley

Located in the Blackwater Valley and surrounding the heritage town of Lismore there are several great houses which open their door and gardens throughout the summer months. These houses are lived in and maintained by their owners who welcome groups and provide guided tours of the property. All of these properties are or have been hosts for our recitals series.


Salterbridge House

The gardens of Salterbridge House are part of the Waterford Garden Trail. They are Located near Cappoquin. The Victorian country house’s grounds are filled with camellias, magnolias, rhododendrons and many other woodland shrubs. The original house was built in Salterbridge around 1750 by Richard Musgrave. The house which was at the center of an 18,000 acre estate in the 19th century remained in the Chearnley family until 1947 when it was purchased by the current owner’s family.                

Cappoquin House

A hidden treasure’ is how many visitors have described Cappoquin House and Gardens. Blink and you may easily miss the the driveway, which flows unceremoniously from the pavement to meander up the hillside to the beautiful Georgian house. The high vantage point of the House, situated on the prominent site of a medieval Fitzgerald Castle, offers stunning views across Cappoquin and beyond to the river Blackwater. The entrance to Capoquin House is via the yard, where visitors are met by the current owner, Sir Charles Keane whose family have lived here since 1735. The recitals at Cappoquin House have become a tradition in our programme and we are looking forward seeing you there again.


Tourin House

The gardens at Tourin House extend over 2 hectares and include a walled garden. A fine collection of camellias, rhododendrons, magnolias and rare mature trees including a Champion London Plane Tree, give beautiful displays of colour. Lovely walks along the paths lead to Tourin Quay and a pond with duck and other wild life. The House and Gardens are situated about 5km from Cappoquin and the heritage town of Lismore in Co. Waterford. Overlooking the River Blackwater, the main house was built in 1840 in the then fashionable Italianate style and the original historic 16th-century tower house can still be seen from the garden.

Dromana House

Dromana House is a true gem, perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the strikingly beautiful, unspoilt river Blackwater. It is surrounded by a 600 acre privately owned estate with numerous woodland and garden walks. Several interesting historic follies are also to be seen throughout the grounds including an ancient outer fortification, boathouse and slipway down to the river. This period property has been lovingly maintained by its owners whose family have lived on this location since 1200, the present owner being the 21st generation.                 


River Boat Tours of the River Blackwater

Blackwater Eco Tours is a community established and not-for-profit ecotourism company that offers eco pod accommodation, river activities and walking trails in the Blackwater River Valley based in Villierstown Co. Waterford. From Villierstown Quay you can explore the natural beauty of the Blackwater River.  Our options include a 90-minute guided tour on our tour boat ‘Zingara’ which can take up to 11 people and a self-drive option in which you can skipper one of our boats yourself. We offer scheduled tours and private tours. Whatever you group size or interests we can provide an itinerary to match. You can also explore the river valley with our woodland walking trails, where there are extensive trails adjacent to the river and in nearby Dromana Woods. With Blackwater Eco Tours you can enjoy the un-spoilt natural beauty and unique historic heritage of the Blackwater River Valley, ideally located within the Munster Vales and Ireland’s Ancient East.

Blackwater Eco Tours also have 4 Eco Pods located in the center of Villierstown. Each pod can accommodate 4 adults or a family of 5 and contain a kitchenette, shower and toilet. The pods also have a picnic area and BBQ facilities. The pods are conveniently located close to Villierstown Quay, woodland walking trails and the local coffee shop and pub. To book your stay in these fantastic Eco Pods – Call  089 2538699 or visit their partner websites or Airbnb

Robert Boyle Escape Room at Lismore Heritage Centre

As well as providing visitors with all the information required to make their stay in the Lismore area as complete and enjoyable as possible The Lismore Heritage Centre has recently added The Robert Boyle Escape Room.

Robert Boyle has been busy trying to solve many of the C17th science’s most puzzling questions. Boyle’s nemesis, the fraud, Vincenzo Falcone believes that Boyle has discovered a mysterious ingredient which can turn base metals into gold and give humans the gift of immortality.

Falcone knows that Boyle is away on important business in the city today and Falcone will be here in 60 minutes to search Boyle’s study for his secret Alchemy Box. Can you find it before Falcone gets here??? Want to see more? Have a look at their Escape Room Facebook page. Booking for this experience may be done online here.


‘I am of Ireland’ Collection & Exhibition at Salterbridge House

In conjunction with the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival ‘I am of Ireland’, an online shop specialising in high quality Irish craft and art, will be exhibiting a specially curated collection of paintings, hand woven blankets, silver, blown glass, jewellery, small pieces of furniture and ceramics at Salterbridge House during the Festival May 28th – June 3rd.  In the four years since ‘I am of Ireland’ first began it has become known for sourcing unique pieces of exceptional quality.  The work often has roots in traditional craft techniques such as willow weaving and draws on the exceptional beauty of Irish landscape.  These two elements are fused with a contemporary design aesthetic to make ‘I am of Ireland’s’ collection genuine, authentic and equally at home in contemporary or traditional homes.

I am of Ireland work directly with some of the finest artisans in the country to bring you the best selection of Irish art and design available. Everything you see on our website has been hand made by artists and crafts people who are passionate about what they do.

The Courtyard Gallery at Salterbridge House

The Courtyard Gallery at Salterbridge House, Cappoquin P51 H985 presents Ireland’s most engaging artists – a wonderful opportunity to view fascinating work in this unique setting. The exhibition, coinciding with the Festival, runs from Thursday 30th May to Monday 3rd June, 10am – 4pm daily. 

Blackwater Valley Makers

Peter Murray watercolours

Cora Murphy

Mary Lincoln Potter

Niamh O’Malley Exhibition at St Carthage Hall, Lismore

O’Malley works with drawing, sculpture, painting, video, and recently also coloured glass. She is drawn to materials that display traces of their own making, labouring the surfaces of polished wood and graphite to the point of distraction.
Originally trained as a painter, the artist’s interest in the construction of images has extended spatially through the medium of glass. Rather than treating it as an invisible barrier, O’Malley emphasizes its physicality – its thickness, its surface, its opacity – giving attention to properties that might more usually be overlooked.
Her sculptures are partly reminiscent of furniture; shelves, canopies, panels, and bulk. They also function as ballast, solid weights to create a space of form and attention. Through her body of work, the artist continually reminds us of the directed and mediated image – from bench, to view, to landscape.

Opening reception Saturday 1st June at 4-6pm with artist talk with Niamh O’Malley and Isobel Harbison, 3.30pm (free event)  – Exhibition continues until August 25th. Dr Isobel Harbison is an art critic, and Lecturer in the Department of Art, at Goldsmiths, University of London.


‘East Meet West’ Exhibition at Cappoquin Library 

‘East Meet West’ exhibition features artwork by members and guests of two artist collectives – River Barn Artists based in Cappoquin and Group 20ten from East Waterford.

In this joint exhibition, 7 artists from “The East” and 10 from “The West” will be showing new works in a range of media and styles in the upstairs space of Cappoquin library

Runs from 25th May to 25th June at Cappoquin Library – Saturday to Wednesday 10am-5pm; Sunday 12-5 (closed for lunch 1-2pm)


Marcus O’Mahony Celebrates The Blackwater Valley Opera Festival




Visit the new studio, kilns and gallery of internationally recognised ceramic artist. Marcus O’Mahony. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin; the Hunt Museum, Limerick; the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and in many private collections. He is a Fellow of CPA, London. There will be a SALE of selected pieces of work.  Half the proceeds of these sales will be donated to the Lismore Welcome Project, a community sponsorship programme to integrate a Syrian refugee family. All donations gratefully received. Refreshments available. Parking is limited at the studio but is also available at a neighbouring farmyard 50 metres from the Pottery.

Mobile: 087 2162602 or 086 2028756


Waterford City

The Waterford Crystal Experience

The House of Waterford Crystal opens the door to more than 200 years of crystal manufacturing. Come and be a part of the story as you witness craftsmen making crystal stemware, giftware and masterpieces before your very eyes. From the heat, noise and fire of the blowing room to the exquisite skills of cutting and engraving, a guided tour immerses you in the time-honoured processes behind the creation of each sparkling piece of crystal. With the largest collection of Waterford crystal in the world, our opulent Retail Store gives you the opportunity to, literally, hold on to your magical experience by choosing a piece of crystal to take home.


King of Vikings

Visit the Waterford Viking triangle and sample this medieval experience

  • The King of Vikings is the world’s first virtual reality experience Viking experience and explores the Vikings in Ireland’s oldest city.
  • The Heart of Viking Ireland is a tour of an authentic Viking house in the ruins of a 13th Century Franciscan Friary
  • Handcrafted replica Viking house built in Waterford’s Viking triangle

East Cork

Jameson Distillery Visit & Guided Tour

Visit the workplace of Jameson to see for yourself where it all happens. Today, every drop of Jameson Whiskey enjoyed worldwide is produced here, amid the lush fields of southern Ireland. We like a life full of simple pleasures, and believe us, there’s not much more simple or more pleasurable than enjoying the world’s best Irish whiskey at source. Take a tour of the Jameson distillery and enjoy a host of unique experiences, from a workshop at the state of the art Jameson Academy to developing a new appreciation of Irish whiskey, from grain to glass.

Titanic Experience

Titanic Experience is the home of the original White Star Line Ticket Office, a building steeped in history dating back to the early 19th century and the departure point for many thousands of White Star Line passengers. When you arrive upon check-in you will receive your boarding card. Your boarding card will have the details of one of the 123 passengers who came to the White Star Line Ticket Office on Thursday April 11th 1912. These were the final passengers to join Titanic at her last port of call in Queenstown, Ireland. (Cobh was renamed Queenstown from the period of 1849-1921 in honour of Queen Victoria’s visit to Cobh and so we refer to Cobh as Queenstown for much of our story). Your personal tour guide will take you on a virtual journey to board the tenders and join Titanic for her maiden voyage to New York. The guided element of our tour lasts 30 minutes after which you will be free to explore our exhibition area. Here you can interact with a collection of audio visual presentations and story boards exploring the events that led to the tragic sinking.

Spike Island Tour (Cobh)

In the last 1300 years Spike Island has been host to a 6th century Monastery, a 24 acre Fortress, the largest convict depot in the world in Victorian times and centuries of island homes.  The island’s rich history has included monks and monasteries, rioters and redcoats, captains and convicts and sinners and saints.

Today the island is dominated by the 200 year old Fort Mitchel, the star shaped Fortress which became a prison holding over 2300 prisoners.  Take the scenic ferry ride from Kennedy Pier, Cobh, and enjoy a fully guided tour of our island and fortress, and relax in our cafe and picnic areas.  Get captured in the history and mystery of this magical heritage island.  WINNER of EUROPE’S LEADING TOURIST ATTRACTION 2017 at the WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS!


Fota Island

Fota, an island in Cork Harbour is host to several special visitor experiences. Situated on the island is Ireland’s only wildlife park – as well as the historical Fota House and gardens and  3 golf courses owned by the five star Fota Island Resort.

Fota Wildlife Park

is one of Ireland’s top ten visitor attractions and a perfect place to visit for people of all ages. The park is not like an ordinary zoo with more than 70 species of exotic wildlife in open spaces. Animals include ostriches, giraffes, kangaroos, zebras and antelope. Most of the animals who inhabit the island are allowed to roam throughout more than 202,000 square metres (50 acres) of mature grassland, with the exception of the cheetahs and other predators, which have fenced enclosures. Ring-tailed lemurs, wallabies and other animals freely roam the park.

Fota House

was designed by 19th century architects Richard and William Morrison. From the beautifully proportioned rooms with exquisite plasterwork, to the preserved service wing and kitchens, Fota House offers visitors an intimate look at how life was lived in the past, whether as a servant or as a member of the gentry. Our painting collection is considered to be one of the finest collections of landscape painting outside the National Gallery of Ireland and includes works by William Ashford PRHA, Robert Carver, Jonathan Fisher and Thomas Roberts. The estate also consists of a structured arboretum, walled garden and terraces. The gardens include rare and exotic shrubs and trees, along with an extensive rose garden.

Fota Island Resorts Golf Club

consist of three championship courses named Deerpark (Par 71), Belvelly (Par 72) and Barryscourt (Par 73). The outstanding natural landscapes of Fota Island Golf Clubs parkland courses offer a golfing experience that’s simply unmatched in Ireland. The courses have been home to The Irish Open on three occasions. Golf forms part of an extensive resort  which includes 5* hotel, spa & lodges.

Our Sponsors

The Blackwater Valley Opera Festival, centered in Lismore, Co. Waterford, is held in the breathtakingly beautiful surroundings of Lismore Castle and Historic Houses on the shores of the scenic Blackwater River.

Lismore Music Festival Clg
t/a Blackwater Valley Opera Festival,
8 Main Street,

CRO Num : 484001
CHY Num : 22220