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Suir Blueway

Distance: 21km
Clonmel – Carrick On Suir

Suir Blueway

Suir Blueway

The Suir Blueway in County Tipperary opened in 2019 at a coast of just under €6 million. The Suir Blueway runs for 53km in an east-west direction from Carrick-on-Suir to Cahir via Clonmel. The route is made up of a walking/ cycling trail for 21km which runs from Carrick-on-Suir to Clonmel and a further 32km of waterway along the River Suir which can be canoed or kayaked. It is the river-based element of the route that makes it a Blueway rather than a Greenway!

With Carrick-on-Suir being the home town of Sean Kelly and Sam Bennett, many consider this area to be Ireland’s spiritual home of cycling and this off-road route shouldn’t disappoint the experienced cyclist. Running through the rich valley of the River Suir and the surrounding pasturelands of the Golden Vale, the trail provides wonderful views of some of Ireland’s most beautiful countryside.

Walking/ Cycling the Suir Blueway

There is a 21km marked trail along the Suir Blueway river towpath from Carrick-on-Suir to Clonmel which is ideal for leisure cyclists and walkers of all abilities. The stretch between Cahir and Clonmel is mainly for water-users, except for the short 4km stretch between Cahir Castle and the Swiss Cottage (No.1 below).

Starting at the Gashouse Bridge in Clonmel, walk along the river until you reach Sir Thomas’ Bridge, cross the bridge and leave the Blueway to follow the waymarked route of the East Munster Way into the foothills of the Comeragh Mountains until it rejoins the Blueway at Kilsheelan Bridge. Follow in the footsteps of merchants and tradesmen who made their living along this 17th century towpath. Take in beautiful bridges, castles and churches set in picturesque countryside – but keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as otters and heron!

The route is divided into the sections below so you can decide on the location and distance you’d like to do.

Cahir (Cahir Castle to Swiss Cottage)

  • Linear walk
  • Start at Cahir Castle car park, stop at Swiss Cottage & continue downstream a further 2km.
  • Distance – 4km (8km return)
  • Terrain – tar & chip
  • Wheelchair accessible

Clonmel (Suir Side – Carey’s Slip)

  • Linear walk
  • Start at Suir Side car park, Clonmel.
  • Distance – 2.5km (5km return)
  • Terrain – macadam
  • Wheelchair accessible

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Clonmel (Carey’s Slip) to Kilsheelan

  • Linear walk
  • Start at Carey’s Slip car park, Clonmel.
  • Distance – 7km (14km return)
  • Terrain – macadam & concrete
  • Wheelchair accessible

Kilsheelan to Deerpark

  • Linear Walk
  • Start at Kilsheelan Bridge
  • Distance – 11.5km (23km return)
  • Terrain – macadam & concrete
  • Wheelchair accessible

Deerpark to Carrick on Suir

  • Linear Walk
  • Start at Deerpark car park, finish at Sean Healy Park.
  • Distance – 1km
  • Terrain – macadam & concrete
  • Wheelchair accessible

Suir Blueway by Water

From casual kayaking to stand-up paddle boarding or an exhilarating ride down rapids, there aare options to suit all levels along the Suir Blueway’s 53km.

Proficient Paddlers

If you are experienced and used to independent travel on the water, the Blueway provides a range of trails all the way from Cahir to Carrick on Suir. Start at beautiful Cahir Castle, paddle past the romantic Swiss Cottage and on to Ardfinnan and Newcastle. Further downstream, more accomplished paddlers can take on the challenge of the 300-metre whitewater Canoe Slalom Course in Clonmel, a training base for the Irish team. Paddle on towards Kilsheelan, enjoying mostly fat waters and terrific scenery all the way to Carrick on Suir.

Novices

Inexperienced canoeists and kayakers are advised to use a local, qualified guide to arrange a day on the Blueway that is both fun and safe. Canoeing skills courses are organised regularly by Tipperary Sports Partnership. www.tipperarysports.ie

Be Aware

There are many places to launch canoes, kayaks and paddle boards along Suir Blueway, however the river can be fast-flowing and paddlers should be conscious of the conditions when launching. Inexperienced paddlers should only take to the water under the supervision of qualified guides.

Where are the access points for Watersports?

If you are an experienced canoeist/ kayaker there are eight shorter routes between Carrick on Suir and Cahir where you can enter the River Suir for some kayaking/ canoeing or paddle-boarding. The list below gives the distance, time and level of experience (Grade) required for each stretch.

  1. Cahir Castle to Swiss Cottage
    2km/ 40 mins/ Grade 1.
  2. Swiss Cottage to Ardfinnan
    7km/ 2 hours/ Grade 1 to Ardfinnan. In Ardfinnan Grade 2+ until after the bridge. Two weirs in Ardfinnan.
  3. Ardfinnan to Newcastle
    7km/ 2 hours/ Paddle starts at the green in Ardfinnan. Novices follow signs for portage. Grade 1 to Newcastle, Newcastle is Grade 2.
  4. Newcastle to Sandybanks
    13km/ 4 hours/ River Access located 125m upstream of Newcastle Bridge. Grade 1.
  5. Sandybanks to Suir Island, Clonmel
    3km/ 1 hour/ Start at Sandybanks slip or steps at Suir Island weir and white water slalom course (Grade 2/3), novices follow signs, use portage available. Grade 1.
  6. Suir Island, Clonmel to Carey’s Slip
    2km/ 40 mins/ Access 200m from Suir Island car park. Beginners enter after Slalom Course. Grades 2+. White Water Slalom Course 300m.
  7. Carey’s Slip to Kilsheelan
    7km/ 2 hours/ Access at Carey’s Slip, Moangarriff off the N24. Grades 1 & 2.
  8. Kilsheelan to Carrick-on-Suir
    11.5km/ 3.5 hours/ Access steps and slip at Kilsheelan Bridge. Grade 1.

Are there Canoe/ Kayak Clubs on the Blueway?

Are there Canoe/ Kayak Clubs on the Blueway?

Where can I take a Canoeing/ Kayaking course before I go?

Canoe Ireland have a list of registered course providers all over the country, have a look for one near you at: www.canoe.ie/nationwide-beginner-courses

The 250m long Slalom Course located at Suir Island in Clonmel is the longest, purposed-built slalom course in Ireland and home to Ireland’s national team.

Butler Trail

Discover the incredible 800-year history of one of Ireland’s most influential families. Learn about their rise to power and how they helped to shape Irish history. Explore a house built for a queen at Ormond Castle, the romantic riverside Swiss Cottage, spot the cannonball in the walls of Cahir Castle, or simply delight in the restored former courthouse at the Main Guard. The Butler Trail runs the length of Suir Blueway – from Cahir to Clonmel to Carrick on Suir, and includes heritage trails in each town. Download the app from the links below to guide you in each town.

 

App Store

Google Play

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Suir Blueway Bike Hire/ Parking?

There is only one outlet along the route that offers bikes for rent, they offer free, secure parking but no shuttle service so you have to return the bike to the depot.

Blueway Bike Hire,
Treacy Fuels Depot,
North Quay,
Carrick on Suir,
Co. Tipp.

T. 051-640130 E. bluwaybikehire@hotmail.com

Suir Blueway Etiquette

The Suir Blueway is a ‘shared-space’ which means it’s for all types of users to enjoy – walkers, cyclists, wheelchair-users, dog-walkers and children.

  • While walking or cycling please stay left and pass on the right.
  • If you are on a bike, cycle at a safe spend and remember to ring your bell to make sure that walkers know you are behind them before passing. Remember, walkers listen out for those bells.
  • All dogs should be kept on a short leads and remember to clean up after your pets.
  • Leave No Trace – Please bring your rubbish home and keep the Suir Blueway beautiful.
  • Now, go out and enjoy the Suir Blueway!

What to Wear

As all Irish people or anyone who’s been here knows, the weather in Ireland is changeable! It often feels like we have had four full seasons in one day! Winter can be cold, with average temperatures at 4°C, summers are usually mild, with average temperatures at 18°C but can often reach highs of 25°C.

One thing which remains constant throughout the year though is the rain! It rains a lot in Ireland so please make sure to bring a raincoat. We suggest wearing layers when walking or cycling the greenway as you’ll be able to peel-off or pile them on, depending on which seasons you encounter during the day!

Also, please remember it’s a good idea to wear brightly coloured clothes or high-vis-vests when on the greenway. Although there are no cars allowed, there may be some serious cyclists who can pick up quite a speed along with electric bikes also so it’s a good idea to make yourself seen.

It's also a good idea to wear a helmet, especially if you're planning on picking up some speed on the Greenway (bike-hire companies offer helmets with every bike). And don't forget to wear some comfortable, breathable footwear, especially on a warm day when you'll notice your body temperature rising quite quickly as make progress along the Greenway. 

Suir Blueway FAQ

How long will it take me to cycle the River Suir Blueway?
The Suir Blueway from Carrick on Suir to Clonmel is 21km, the average cyclist would do this in less than two hours. But why not give yourself the whole day so you can stop and see some of the wonderful sights along the way?

It’s really worth making a day of it though to see some in the taking in the wonderful built heritage of Carrick on Suir, Clonmel and Cahir. The highlights would be Ormonde Castle in Carrick on Suir, Cahir Castle and the Swiss Cottage in Cahir and the medieval precinct in Clonmel which contains a 13th century church and graveyard and an impressive stretch of the 14th century town wall.

Where can I rent a bike to do the Blueway?
There is only one outlet along the route that offers bikes for rent – Blueway Bike Hire at Treacy Fuels Depot, North Quay, Carrick on Suir. T. 051-640130 E. bluwaybikehire@hotmail.com

I haven’t cycled a bike in years, can I still do the Greenway?
Yes! The Blueway is mostly very flat and easy to cycle, so is manageable for anyone who is reasonably fit and healthy.

Can I do the Blueway with young kids?
Yes! Kids can do the Blueway on their own bikes, in a child-seat, in a tow-along or on an adult/ child tandem.

Should I use an electric bike?
Electric bikes will add about 30% extra power to your cycle so will certainly make the journey faster and more comfortable! Please note that the pedals on an electric bike still need to be peddled so is not suitable for users with problematic knees.

Can I rent an electric scooter for Blueway?
Electric scooters are not regulated in Ireland currently so they are not available to hire.

Security

The Suir Blueway is considered to be quite safe but we do advise using some common sense when parking your car – hide anything which might look valuable in the boot before you head off on the Blueway! Do lock your bikes if heading into a cafe for lunch or to explore the surrounding countryside on foot. Please do lock your bikes if leaving them unattended for any period of time!

Emergency Contacts

National Emergency Services: 999 or 112

Carrick on Suir

A flourishing market town overlooking the River Suir in south Tipperary, Carrick on Suir is a two-hour drive south west of Dublin. Associated with the powerful Anglo-Norman, Butler family, the town flourished in the middle ages – leaving a wonderful legacy of medieval streetscapes, castles and churches to explore.

Access onto the Greenway

  • Sean Healy Park, Carrick-on-Suir.

History

Originally formed on an island settlement upstream of Waterford, the name Carrick on Suir comes from the Irish – Carraig na Siuire, meaning ‘Rock of the Suir’. The first settlement on Carrick may have been by the gaelic Deisi tribe who at one point ruled the whole of Waterford as well as south-east Tipperary. The Deise defended their territory from the Vikings and local attackers until about the late-12th century when the Anglo Normans arrived and imposed their rule.

One of seven walled towns in County Tipperary developed by the Anglo-Normans, the town remained as an island until the early-19th century, when small rivers were diverted to form dry land to the north and west. The town was developed by the wealthy and powerful Butler family throughout the medieval period and by the 15th Century Carrick on Suir was the most strategically important place on the River Suir after Waterford.

The town was taken by Cromwell’s forces in the mid 17th century. They captured Carrick by stealth after discovering an undefended gate as part of operations during the Siege of Waterford. The town became relatively prosperous through the development of the woollen, fishing and tanning industries in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Ormonde Castle

Built on the site of an earlier medieval riverside castle, Ormond Castle is the finest example of an Elizabethan manor house that we have in Ireland. Thomas, 10th Earl of Ormond, built it in 1565 in honour of his distant cousin and close acquaintance, Queen Elizabeth.
The magnificent great hall, which stretches almost the whole length of the building is decorated with some of the finest stucco plasterwork in the country. The plasterwork features portraits of Queen Elizabeth and her brother Edward VI and many motifs and emblems associated with the Tudor monarchy. Some great audiovisuals and installations bring this castle’s intriguing history to life.

Other Great Places to see on the Butler Trail

Ormonde Castle is one of ten fantastic Butler Trail stops in Carrick on Suir. For over 650 years, the Butlers were the most powerful and influential family in Carrick on Suir. They built the finest Elizabethan manor house in Ireland, brought the woollen industry to the town and left a wonderful 17th century silver collection.

Download the Butler Trail audio guide app to hear fascinating stories of alleged intimacies with an English Queen, tragedy on the river and hidden treasure in an Irish pub. You can download The Butler Trail App & Audio Guide on iTunes or Google Play, it includes three audio trails (available in English, French and German).

App Store
Google Play Store

Accommodation

We’ve selected our top three spots to stay in Carrick on Suir!

  1. Carraig Hotel
    The lovely Carriage Hotel is the town’s only full-appointed hotel. The history of the Carraig Hotel dates back to the 18th century having started its life as The King’s Head Inn! Located right in the centre of the town, its rooms are comfortable and cost around 120 per night. http://www.carraighotel.com/
  2. Arch Guest House
    Located in the centre of the town, the Arch Guest House offers clean, modern rooms which start at around 50 per night. There’s also a kitchen if you’re staying a little longer and would like to cater for yourself. https://www.airbnb.ie/rooms/30814480?source_impression_id=p3_1598369608_SK4al8TwbcuyFbuL
  3. The Cowhouse Holiday Home
    Located 8.4 km from Carrick on Suir, The Cowhouse offers a holiday home set within a 200 year old, converted cowhouse. Gorgeosly renovated with two bedrooms and a full kitchen, the property is just 5-minutes away from the Suir Blueway.

Best Places to Eat

We’ve selected our top two spots to eat in Carrick on Suir!

  1. Carraig Restaurant at the Carraig Hotel
    Carvery lunch is served at the Carriage Hotel each day from 12.30 to 2.30pm. The restaurant opens for dinner from Friday through to Sunday. The wide and varied menu includes steaks and an emphasis on locally produced ingredients. http://www.carraighotel.com/
  2. Kilkieran Cottage Restaurant
    It’s worth a short trip north out of town into the beautiful Tipperary countryside to visit Kilkieran Cottage Restaurant. The restaurant serves quality, contemporary Irish cuisine and is set in a beautiful scenic location of rural Carrick on Suir. https://kilkierancottage.ie/

Clonmel

Clonmel, meaning ‘honey meadow’, is the county town and largest settlement in County Tipperary. Now home to a growing number of multinationals, Clonmel is in the heart of ‘Butler Country’ – a heritage which is evident in the many lovely buildings in the town. Of course Clonmel is also home Ireland’s favourite cider – Bulmers, which has been brewed in the town for over 90 years!

History

Clonmel is one of County Tipperary’s seven walled towns built by the Anglo-Normans in the medieval period. Once the administrative centre of the powerful Butler family, King James II visited the town in 1689. The Butlers left many fine buildings in Clonmel, most notably the beautiful 17th century Main Guard which has undergone many transformations in its lifetime – from courthouse to barracks to retail outlet to exhibition and event centre. It won awards for its recent conservation and has a great exhibition inside telling the story of James Butler (who built it), his role in the English Court and his lasting legacy in Ireland.

In 1650 Clonmel’s town walls were infamously breached by Cromwell and his New Model Army after a tough, month-long siege. Some of the town’s original walls can still be seen in the town’s medieval precinct. The town’s most interesting historical spots are cover in the town’s heritage trail which is worth doing if you have the time! The recently refurbished galleries of the South Tipperary County Museum also have some great exhibitions on the county’s history.

 

Access onto the Greenway

  • Suir Island
  • Suirside
  • Carey’s Slip

Accommodation

We’ve selected our top three spots to stay in Clonmel!

  1. Hotel Minella
    For families, there are two main hotels that should cater for all needs – located about five minutes out of Clonmel and nestled between the Comeragh Mountains and the River Suir, Hotel Minella has a lovely countryside feel about it. The central part of the hotel is located in a beautiful Georgian house while additional wings have been added. The Leisure Centre features an award-winning 20m swimming pool, a separate children’s pool area, turbo feature pool underwater loungers, bubble seats and a water geyser! Located five minutes’ drive out of town in the other direction, Clonmel Park Hotel offers 4-star modern hotel facilities including a swimming pool, gym and a spa with extensive treatment options.
  2. Befani’s Townhouse
    For couples or singles, Befani’s Townhouse is located right in the centre of town in a restored Georgian building. The nine-bedroomed townhouse has an award winning 80-seat restaurant which serves Mediterranean cuisine using fresh local produce. A full à la carte breakfast is included in their rates.
  3. Raheen House Hotel
    If you’d like to be both centrally located and enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside then Raheen House Hotel is the place for you. This award-winning hotel, with a history dating to the 17th century, offers 15 elegant bedrooms within the tranquillity of a 3.5 acre garden and is still only a 5 minute walk into town.

Best Places to Eat

We’ve selected our top three spots to eat in Clonmel!

  1. Befani’s Restaurant
    With Bridgestone and Georgina Cambell Awards under its belt, the Resaurant at Befani’s Townhouse offers a southern European atmosphere with a menu and long opening hours to match – open seven days a week from breakfast through to dinner.
  2. Mani Restaurant
    Mani Restaurant welcomes guests to relax and enjoy an experience of exceptional food, cocktails and service, in a stylish setting. With its state of the art kitchen – it is equipped with the only custom made Mibrasa Charcoal Oven in Tipperary. It cooks at over 500°C sealing in the food’s flavour and moisture for an incredible tasting experience. The Head Chef has created an innovative menu which offers 100% Irish meat & seasonal, organic ingredients from local producers.
  3. Kyoto
    If you’re in the mood for Asian food, then take a trip to Kyoto on Parnell Street where you’ll get authentic Asian street food flavours in a comfortable setting.

Cahir

Cahir, a romantic and charming small town, grew up around the imposing Cahir Castle which began as life a fort built on a rock in the middle of the River Suir. The town became a stronghold of the Butler family and for over 650 years, the Butlers were the most powerful and influential family in Cahir and were responsible for the creation of much of the town’s wonderful built heritage that can be seen today. The pretty heritage town is dominated by the enormous Cahir Castle, located on an island on the River Suir at the centre of the town. The castle is a fantastic place to bring the kids and there are lots of other interesting sites nearby to visit.

History

The name Cahir comes from the word ‘Cathair’ meaning ‘stone ringfort’ in Irish. For much of its history, Cahir was influenced by the powerful Butler family who built much of its architecture and brought water, employment and a glorious church to the town. It was from the Butler family that the first Barons of Cahir were created.

Cahir and Clonmel were also the centres of the Quaker population in south Tipperary in the 19th century. The principal Quaker family names were Grubb, Going and Walpole and they were largely engaged in milling. Cahir was one of the first towns to be linked by stagecoach in the 19th century, when Charles Bianconi commenced services between Clonmel, Cahir and Cashel.

Access onto the Greenway

  • Inch Field (beside Cahir CaStle)

Cahir Castle

One of Ireland’s finest and best-preserved medieval fortresses, Cahir Castle is picturesquely located on an island in the River Suir. Home for centuries to the Butlers, Barons of Cahir, its high walls and towers dominate the town’s skyline. Take a guided tour and discover stories of rivalries and rebellions, conquests and characters which the castle witnessed down the centuries. Its formidable location and design meant that Cahir Castle remained impregnable until the use of heavy artillery against it in 1599.

Swiss Cottage

The beautiful Swiss Cottage was built in 1810 by the fashionable, high-society couple James and Emily Butler, 1st Earl and Countess of Glengall. They employed the royal architect John Nash to design the building in the cottage orne style, which was much in vogue at the time. The romantic, picturesque location, and cottage’s fascinating exterior appearance and the elegantly-furnished rooms make this hidden gem a must to visit.

Other great places to see on the Butler Trail

After Cahir Castle and the Swiss Cottage there are many other interesting sites associated with the Butlers in Cahir. The elegant terrace of houses on either side of Castle Street were built by the Butlers, as was the beautiful St Paul’s Church, located above the banks of the River Suir, which perhaps explains why the only tomb in the church yard is that of the Butler family!

From the 1770s until the mid 1800s, the beautiful Cahir House Hotel was the home of the Butlers of Cahir. The fine dressed-stone building called The Granary is yet another legacy from the Butler era, built by Emily Butler, the Dowager Lady Glengall. Built in 1809 as a linen factory, it now is home to a regional craft centre, one of four in Ireland. Fresh water supply wasn’t readily available in 19th century, so it must have been a relief to the townspeople when Lady Margaret Butler-Charteris erected the elegant limestone fountain in the centre of the town square in 1876. It meant they could enjoy fresh, clean water, piped all the way from the Galtee Mountains.

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Accommodation

We’ve selected our top three spots to stay in Cahir!

  1. Cahir House Hotel
    Located within a former manor house of the Butler family, Cahir House Hotel combines old world charm with modern comfort. Situated centrally in Cahir, many of the hotel’s 41 bedrooms boast views of Cahir Castle and the heritage town.
  2. Kilcoran Lodge Hotel
    Kilcoran Lodge Hotel & Leisure Centre is situated just outside the town nestled in the foothills of the Galtee Mountains. This charming country house hotel overlooks the majestic Knockmealdown Mountains and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Again, the house offers old world rustic charm combined with comfort and spaciousness.
  3. Cahir House Hotel
    If you’d like to be centrally located, Cahir House Hotel is right on the town square by the River Suir. It has a traditional bar, a bistro, a beauty salon and overlooks the 13th century Cahir Castle. A woodland walk behind the hotel leads to the Swiss cottage and Cahir Park Golf Club.

Best Places to Eat

We’ve selected our top three spots to eat in Cahir!

  1. The Bistro
    The Bistro restaurant is a firm favourite with locals seeking high quality food at a reasonable price. The menu changes seasonally with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients.
  2. Lava Rock
    Lava Rock has won many awards since it opened in 2014 – it offers a warm and relaxed dining experience with new ideas and unique ingredients used to generate a new menu every season. It sources local and organic ingredients where possible.
  3. Galileo Cafe
    Galileo Cafe is an authentic Italian family restaurant serving delicious high-class dishes. For quality pizza, pasta, salads and more this is the place to go!

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