Once that’s done you’ll be able to experience the KnittingTours website perfectly.
If you feel like learning more about Ireland’s political history taking a trip to Leinster House or Dublin Castle is a must. Leinster House is where the current parliament sits while Dublin Castle was the seat of English rule over the city and country from the 13th Century. Dublin Castle also houses the Chester Beatty Library which displays manuscripts, prints, miniature paintings and early printed books from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
Knitting stops that you won’t want to miss when visiting Dublin include the National Museum of Decorative Arts and History located at Collins Barracks, The Constant Knitter, This is Knit and Springwools which is just outside the city. You will find details for those and other craft stops in your full itinerary.
Kilkenny City is a pleasure to stroll around with its cobbled streets, colourful cafes and lovely craft shops. An essential stop for any craft lover in the city is the Kilkenny Design Centre, located on the grounds of one of Kilkenny’s biggest tourist attractions, the majestic Kilkenny Castle. The design centre stocks Jewellery, Knitwear, Celtic Gifts, China & Crystal, Pottery & Glass, Home & Fashion Accessories and other Irish handcrafted gifts. The National Craft Gallery can also be found on the grounds of the castle which features works by both Irish and international designers, artists and makers across a variety of disciplines who share a common passion for their chosen field. The National Craft Gallery often have Textile exhibitions on display which may be of particular interest to those on knitting and craft tours of Ireland.
When you visit the studio you can see the pottery makers in full stride through the viewing room on the ground floor. Located close to Nicholas Mosse Pottery is Bennetsbridge farm where you can see the rare sight of Zwartable sheep in Ireland. While there, take a look around the farm and meet the sheep who have been known to come right up to guests on the farm! Following on from the Zwartables why not see where there yarn is spun and made into the final product at the Cushendale Mill in Graiguenamanagh which is twenty five minutes drive from Bennettsbridge. Returning to Kilkenny City, don’t forget that included in your tour package are tickets for the Smithwick’s Experience. Smithwicks is one of the most popular selling brands of Ale in Ireland and was first produced in Kilkenny by monks in 1231 and at the end of the tour you get sample a pint of the famous ale so you get to make up your own mind on its unique taste. If the taste of Smithwicks has whetted your appetite some of the best pubs to eat and drink in Kilkenny include Langtons Bar and Matt the Millers.
One of the most interesting stops for craft lovers would be The Ros Tapestry located in the town centre of New Ross. The Ros Tapestry depicts through embroidered panels events around the Anglo – Norman arrival in Ireland and the impact they had in founding New Ross. Located close by is Calico Interiors which is an interior and soft furnishing shop run by Ann Larkin. Recently the Dunbrody Heritage collection which contains a range of cushions and soft furnishings was launched. This collection was specifically designed for the Dunbrody Famine Ship which is also docked in New Ross. Continue to the Kite Design Studios in Waterford where you will get to see local craftspeople design a broad range of artisan products. Also located in Waterford is the famous Waterford Crystal which was first produced in the city in 1783. A factory tour and retail store gives you the opportunity to see the how the world renowned crystal is made from start to finish.
Then approaching Cork City you will pass the town of Midleton where the famous Irish whiskey Jameson is distilled. A tour of the distillery is well worth your time if time allows. Just before you arrive into the city you have the chance to stop at Hedgehog Fibres, an Irish artisan fibre and yarn dyeing studio. Set up by Slovakian Beata Jezek, Hedgehog Fibres work reflect Beata’s experiences and moods which result in a vast variation of colours and styles which staff will be able to explain to you in more detail. Cork City’s unique personality can be seen through its architecture, landscape and most notably, through its proud people. Cork also claims to be the food capital of Ireland with The English Market being one of the most popular food markets in Ireland where even Queen Elizabeth decided to see how good the produce was for herself in 2011. If you didn’t get the opportunity to attend a live music session while in Dublin, Cork has numerous live music sessions in its atmospheric pubs to cater for nearly every taste in music.
For some more knitting related stops, you can find Vibes and Scribes located on Bridge Street, just on the banks of the River Lee. Vibes and Scribes is a shop where you can buy yarns and other knitting stock. Located just a few minutes walk away is the Cork Button Company where you will be able to buy many different types of buttons for your future knitting projects. Other options that you could visit beyond the city itself include the famous Blarney Castle, the nearby town of Cobh which was the ill-fated Titanic’s last port of call before its voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. There is a museum dedicated to the 123 people who boarded the Titantic in Cobh which details the ships final few days before tragedy struck.
One thing to take note of is the opening hours which vary throughout the week with early closings at the beginning of the week. Moving on from Kinsale the next port of call is Clonakilty where you can call to Knitwell Wools who sell a wide range of knitting products. Located just outside Clonakilty is the Michael Collins Centre which has a collection of memorabilia which belonged to Michael Collins and artifacts from the Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War. Leaving Clonakilty again heading west towards the Beara Peninsula, This scenic route will take you via the Sheep’s Head Peninsula where the annual Sheep’s Head Yarn Festival is held. There is also a seasonal producers market held in Kilcrohane Village on Sunday’s where pottery and textile arts can be found on sale.
Heading north from Bantry you will travel via the scenic village of Glengarrif. Continuing onwards you have the option of going the most direct route straight to Kenmare or you have the option of travelling around the Beara Peninsula. Some of the highlights of travelling around the Beara Peninsula include the Healy Pass and the Dursey Island cable car, which is not for the fain hearted. At the end of the Beara Peninsula drive you come to the town of Kenmare. Again like many other towns and villages in the region, Kenmare is spoilt with beautiful scenery and has a wide selection of good bars and restaurants to select from for lunch. Kenmare has a history of lace making tracing back to 19th Century when a lace industry was established and Kenmare lace became a noted product worldwide. The Kenmare lace and design centre is a heritage centre located in the main square in Kenmare. The centre is dedicated to the history of Kenmare lace as well as other laces from around Ireland such as Bobbin Lace and Limerick Lace. Don’t forget that Quills Woollen Market also have a shop here if you were unable to visit the one in Bantry.
At the focal point of the park you will find Muckross House where Mucros Weavers can be found. They have been operating here for over thirty years producing high quality products such as capes, rugs and scarves. All of the designs are provided by the inspiration that the nature around Killarney National Park gives to the Master Weaver, John Cahill who uses materials varied from wool, mohair and alpaca to produce their products. Other attractions around Killarney that are favoured by tourists include Torc Waterfall which is one of the finest waterfalls in Ireland, St Mary’s Cathedral which has one of the highest steeples in Ireland and taking a cruise to Innisfallen Island where a 7th century monastery is situated. A small 12th century church built from red sandstone can also be found on the quiet island.
This route is the most famous and popular driving route in Ireland and as it is approximately 180km in length it will take up a considerable chunk of your day. When heading to Killorglin to begin the tour you will pass through the small village of Beaufort just outside Killarney where you will find Kerry Woollen Mills. Established in the 18th Century the mill uses modern technology with contemporary styling to give it a unique look to target niche markets. Many of the original buildings that were built over 300 years ago are still standing and functional so it gives you a perspective of how the woollen mill has changed through time. Continuing on along the route some of the many highlights include Rossbeigh Beach, Derrynane House, The Skellig Experience and The Gap of Dunloe. Along with Rossbeigh beach there are plenty of other beaches on the route where you can take the opportunity to stretch your legs (weather permitting) and take in some fresh Atlantic air.
Other attractions in and close the town include taking a boat trip to see Fungie the resident Dolphin in Dingle Bay, driving to Slea Head, the most westerly point of the mainland of Ireland where on clear days the Great Blasket Islands are visible. The Conor Pass running from Dingle in the south western end of the peninsula towards Brandon Bay in the north east is the highest mountain pass in Ireland with its peak being 456 metres (1,496 feet). The pass has spectacular views especially from Peddlers Lake where a more dynamic view of the pass can be seen.
Continuing on from Adare you will soon come to the city of Limerick, the third biggest city in Ireland. Limerick is most well known for its rich history and location on the River Shannon. One of the most popular tourist attractions in the city is King John’s Castle which dates back to the 13th century. If you are passing through Limerick during the weekend a visit to the Milk Market could be well worth your time. The market brings together traders all with different backgrounds into one place. The food stalls in the market are highly thought of by locals while the market also has arts & craft stalls some which may be of interest to you. Travelling on from Limerick towards Clare, you will soon pass Bunratty Castle which has been in existence since the 15th century with the Bunratty folk park that showcases village life in Ireland in the early 19th century. Heading towards the west coast of Clare in the seaside town of Lahinch you will find Kennys Woollen Mills that sells wool and knitwear for you to stock up on. If you reach your accommodation in Clare early in the day why not consider a day trip to the Aran Islands to visit the birthplace of the Aran sweater. It is possible to take a ferry from the nearby Doolin pier to all three Aran Islands. If you reach your accommodation in Clare a bit later in the afternoon a trip to the Cliffs of Moher, one of the best cliff views in the world is highly recommended.
Continuing east you will have the opportunity to visit the ancient monastery of Clonmacnoise which is one of the most famous monasteries in Ireland. From here you can travel either direct to Dublin or take a slight de-tour via Newgrange in County Meath. Newgrange is a prehistoric monument dating back to 3200B0C that was built by the stone age farming community. It was built with clear astronomical alignments such as the Winter Solstice Sunrise at Newgrange and the Equinox Sunrise at Loughcrew. After leaving Newgrange you can return to Dublin for your final night’s stay in Ireland. You can take the opportunity to do some sightseeing around the capital that you were unable to do at the beginning of the tour or if you realise that you haven’t bought enough wool or knitwear this is your last chance to do so at The Constant Knitter or at This is Knit, both located close to the city center.
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