Trace the route of the first ever Steeplechase, run between two village churches, across the fields, ditches and rivers of North Cork.
The early medieval walled market-town of Buttevant is a place rich in castles, towers, abbeys and history. The historic Franciscan Abbey is located in the town and is worth a visit before embarking on your route.
Buttevant is famous as the birthplace of the first ever Steeplechase race. In 1752, two local gentlemen raced their horses from Buttevant Church to St Mary’s Church in Doneraile - from church steeple to church steeple - creating the racing tradition today known all over the world. Trace the route, starting in the historic market town of Buttevant.
Following the route of that first ever Steeplechase, it’s a short, 15-minute drive to Doneraile Wildlife Park & Gardens A grand country estate, laid out in the classic Capability Brown style. Explore the 166 hectares of formal gardens, parkland, lakes and woods. This is one of Ireland’s most beautiful and visited 18th century landscaped parks - admission is free. There is a tea rooms in the park or for a more substantial meal, the Café Townhouse in the village of Doneraile has country house style and great food (they do a stylish high tea).
Related Activities – In keeping with the horse racing theme, Cork Racecourse at Mallow is the premier racecourse in the county and hosts regular meetings.
Visit the charming market town of Kanturk, 20 minutes’ drive from Mallow. See Kanturk Castle, a fortified stronghold for the local MacDonogh-MacCarthy chieftains, erected in the 1580s and now cared for by National Trust for Ireland.
Spend some time in the town and drop by McCarthy's Butchers, a famously friendly family butchers that serves up the best of local artisan produce.
Some 15 minutes’ drive from Doneraile, in the village of Castletownroche, you can explore The Bridgetown Priory the remains of a 13th century Augustinian priory, including cloister, kitchen, refectory, chapter house and church.
Longueville House – a 30 minute, 26km drive from Castletownroche (or just ten minutes’ drive outside Mallow). This rustic Georgian Country House has 500-acres of woodland, pasture and orchards and they do a famously indulgent Sunday lunch.
Longueville is also renowned for its orchards, from which they harvest the ingredients for their own ciders and apple-brandies. If you arrive early enough in the day, you can take the Distillery Tour which also includes lunch.
Springfort Hall Country House Hotel, tucked away amid tranquil woodlands. The gardens and lawns at this 4-star hotel Cork are a delight during the summer, while in the winter months, there's no better place to relax than in the Baltydaniel Bar.