Ballyhoura Country Announces the Opening of its Summer Season

With the clocks going forward – announcing the start of the long summer days to come – the many and varied attractions scattered throughout Ballyhoura Country are finally opening up for the season ahead. Here are the top 10 you need to check out over the coming months!

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1. “Aftersun” @ The Schoolyard Theatre, Charleville

Ireland has only just caught its breath after the extraordinarily strong Irish showing at the Oscars, and now you have a chance to catch the exquisite “Aftersun”, starring Paul Mescal and newcomer Frankie Corio, doing an unforgettable turn as a dad and daughter abroad in Charlotte Wells’ moving debut. Tickets are available below, and the screening is at 8pm on 27th April, in Schoolyard Theatre, Charleville.

And speaking of all things ‘stagey’, Friars Gate Theatre in Kilmallock, the only full-time theatre in South East Limerick & North Cork, has programmed some great shows for the season!

- “Aftersun” tickets:

- Friars Gate Theatre Event Tickets:


2. Doneraile Court & Gardens are now open! Plus Lecture on Doneraile’s Lady Freemason – 14thApril

Doneraile Court is the stunning centrepiece of one of Ireland’s most beautiful estates. Located on the banks of the Awbeg river in north Co. Cork, the house dates from the 1720s, when it was built by Arthur St. Leger, the first Viscount Doneraile and father of the renowned Lady Freemason.

There’s so much to explore – the historic house, guided tours, tea rooms, a schedule of events – while the historic parklands of Doneraile Estate are free to visit and open for the summer season from 8am-8pm, where you can enjoy nature sustainably.

Doneraile Court The Story of the Lady Freemason

Meanwhile, a fascinating spring lecture on Friday 14th April, on the intriguing story of how a Corkwoman became the first – and only – woman to be initiated into the secretive Irish Freemason’s Society will be the subject of a fascinating spring lecture taking place in Cork.

Author Kathleen Aldworth Foster will present a 45-minute lecture on researching and writing her book ‘Doneraile Court: The Story of the Lady Freemason’ at the Freemason’s Hall on Cork’s Tuckey Street. The proceeds are going to several Cork-based charities; these will be announced at the event.

While officially classified as a work of historical fiction, the book is based around the extraordinary life of Elizabeth Aldworth (née St Leger), the daughter of Arthur St Leger, 1st Viscount Doneraile who was a Freemason.

- Find out more about the Lady Freemason Lecture

To learn more about local events in Doneraile follow Visit Doneraile on social media.


3. Annes Grove Gardens, Castletownroche Co. Cork now in full bloom

The gardens have started to bloom again, and there’s lots to discover in the ever-changing landscape of Annes Grove Gardens in 2023. The 190-acre historic estate with 30 acres of renowned gardens, located near Castletownroche, Co. Cork, is now open for the summer. You can enjoy tours (guided or self-guided), a carriage display, a mobile café, and new for 2023 is the Dairy Yard.

The oldest part of the gardens is the Walled Garden, originally laid out in the 18th century, while the Woodlands Garden holds some of the earliest rhododendrons introduced to Ireland. Annes Grove was the home of the Annesley family from the 1600s until 2015 when it was gifted to the Irish state and entered the care of the Office of Public Works.

Ballyhoura Farmers Markets

4. Farmers’ Markets in Co Cork

Take the opportunity to enjoy some of the region’s fresh produce with the re-opening of several Farmer’s Markets:

- Sli Eile Farmers Market, Mallow: Every Saturday from 29th April, 10am - 1pm
- Killavullen Farmers Market – Nano Nagle Centre, 1st, 15th & 29th April from 10.30-1pm

Donkeysanctuary 2

6. The Donkey Sanctuary, Liscarroll

Since 1987, the Sanctuary has loved and cared for over 5,600 neglected and abandoned donkeys from across Ireland. If you visit, you will surely fall in love with the residents! Admission and parking are free, but donations are welcome.

Nestled in the beautiful hillsides outside Liscarroll village, you can take a stroll along the Sanctuary’s beautiful walkways, enjoy a picnic in the secure picnic area, or drop into the Visitor Information Centre.

- Find out more about The Donkey Sanctuary


7. Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails

Ireland’s most extensive mountain bike trail networkBallyhoura Mountain Bike Trailsrecently benefitted from significant upgrades made by Coillte. Now with trails to suit all cyclists, from novice cyclists looking for a fun way to start their mountain biking experience, to the more experienced riders who are looking for fresh routes and challenges, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Bike Trails are free to use, and you can get bike hire locally from Trailriders bike hire shop which is now open every day until Sunday 16th April, and thereafter open every Thurs-Sun and all bank holiday Mondays.

Ocana Fest

8. Ocana Fest 2023

On 21st & -22nd April, the Ocana Festival will celebrate and commemorate the 40th anniversary of the emergency landing of a plane in Mallow Racecourse by Mexican Captain Ocana.

A Mexican and aviation-themed action-packed weekend lies ahead, which includes horse racing, acrobatic air show, fun fair, live wandering mariachi band, live music, workshops and much more. You are invited to Mallow in your Mexican or aviation fancy dress to enjoy the festivities!


9. 27th April - Archaeology of the Revolution in East Limerick

Bruff Heritage Group
is hosting a Free Revolutionary Workshop in conjunction with Landscapes of the Revolution on the 27th April at 7pm at the Thomas Fitzgerald Centre in Bruff, Co. Limerick.

During the evening, they will be sharing what’s been uncovered so far and encouraging the community to share any stories or objects they might have from these revolutionary times, e.g. photographs, letters, pieces of clothing, etc.


10. Mitchelstown Games Tour – first Saturday of every month

Turn back the clock to enter the ancestral world, where the Gaelic pastimes of cross-road dancing, hurling, horseshoe-throwing, skittles, road-bowling, cuardaoicht, caid, tracing novel family histories, card playing, were conducted by our clans with fervour and fun. The Irish Family Search re-enactment display tours take place on the first Saturday of the Month running from April to September in 2023.

Tours depart from the Clongibbon Hotel in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork at 11am and finish at 1 pm. Details from Seamus on 0873589734.