Macroom Tourist Attractions
Macroom (Maghcromtha, "Sloping Field") lies on the River Sullane, to the west of Cork in southwestern Ireland. It is a busy little town, a marketing center for the surrounding area.The town of Macroom features a colourful town centre, an 18-hole golf course and nearby Mushera Mountain, with the family attraction of Millstreet Country Park.
In the Square of Macroom town are a number of Georgian houses and the fine early 19th C. Market House. Also of note are the ruins of Macroom Castle (gutted by fire in 1922), with a massive gatehouse.
The surroundings of Macroom have many features of interest.The roads east (to Cork) and west of Macroom are noted scenic routes. The R618 follows a winding course by way of Carrigadrohid Castle, situated on an island, and Dripsey with noted woolen mills.
The N22, the direct road from Macroom to Cork, runs southeast along the west side of Carrigadrohid Reservoir. In 12mi/20km a side road diverges on the right to Kilcrea, with the well-preserved remains of a Franciscan abbey (15th C; National Monument) in a beautiful setting on the banks of the River Bridge. The remains include the church, with a fine sacristy and a bell tower, and conventual buildings. There is also the keep of an old castle.
12mi/20km south of Macroom, past a hilly area on the R588 (reached by taking the N22 out of Macroom, a short way beyond the town the R584 to the right and then the R585 to the east), lies Kinneigh. Here, on the site of an early monastery, stands an unusual round tower (National Monument), 65ft/20m high, with the lower 18ft/5.5m hexagonal.
The R584, which goes west from the N22 just outside Macroom leads to Inchigeelagh, a holiday resort popular with fishermen and artists; it is picturesquely situated at the east end of Lough Allua, a long narrow lake well known for its white water lilies.
Gougane Barra Forest Park
Near the west end of the Lough Allua we come to the hamlet of Ballingeary, from which the road climbs to the celebrated Pass of Keimaneigh. Here it runs for more than 1mi/2km between sheer rock faces, the austerity of which is relieved by the ferns and flowering plants which find a foothold in crevices in the cliffs. Just before the summit of the pass a narrow road branches off on the right to Gougane Barra Forest Park and Lough Gougane Barra. From this dark and lonely lough, surrounded on three sides by high hills, flows the River Lee, falling in cascades down the rocky hillside and in times of heavy rain filling the whole valley with the sound of rushing water. In late autumn there is a pilgrimage to the site of a monastery founded by St Finbar in the seventh century on a little island in the lough which is connected to the shore by a causeway. There are remains of old buildings and a modern neo-Romanesque church.
From Macroom the N22 leads northwest up the valley of the River Sullane, passing Carrigaphooca Castle (15th C.y; National Monument), to the pilgrimage center of Ballyvourney. Of the monastery founded by St Gobnat in the seventh century there remain a circular building with an inner diameter of 20ft/ 6m and walls 5ft/1.5m thick, a well and the Saint's grave.