Situated on the banks of the River Suir, Clonmel has all the facilities that one would expect to find in a town of its size. It has always been regarded as the best shopping town in the South East of Ireland and great efforts have been made in recent years to preserve the character of the shop fronts in the town and restore them to their former styles. The town has a population of 16,000 within the borough, with an additional 5,000 in the surrounding area making Clonmel an expanding industrial town and a thriving commercial and business centre with many fine hotels, pubs, and guest houses.
The rolling Comeragh Mountains to the south and Slievenamon to the east provide a scenic backdrop to the town from almost every vantage point. The River Suir has been a major influence on the town’s development and the river route, historically used by barges to transport food and supplies between Clonmel and Waterford, can now be taken in by foot or bicycle as part of the Suir BlueWay. In the water, Clonmel hosts Ireland's first canoe slalom course and is home to the Irish Canoe Slalom Club Championships in 2018.
Heritage of Clonmel
Although inhabited for about 5000 years, few traces of prehistoric Clonmel survive. The name Clonmel is derived from the townsland's Gaelic name of “Cluain Meala” which means the Meadow of Honey- most likely a reference to the fertile soils and scenic beauty of the area.
Clonmel is a town with a rich medieval and modern historical past; the town walls date from the 13th century, with monies raised for their completion by Edward II in the 14th century. In 1650, these walls withstood a three week siege by English forces led by Oliver Cromwell during his notorious campaign across Ireland. Original sections of the old town walls can still be found with some of the best examples in the grounds of Old St. Mary's Church of Ireland, built in the 13th century and dedicated to Our Lady of Clonmel, and in the imposing West Gate in Irishtown at the heart of Clonmel- a medieval tower fortification, the West Gate was a focal point of defence during the siege of 1650. Opposite the West Gate, at the end of O’Connell Street, sits the beautifully restored Main Guard, built in 1674 as a Palatinate Court House.
The birthplace of Olympian Dr. Pat O' Callaghan, and famed tenor Frank Patterson, Clonmel is also very proud of its cultural and literary past; being also the birthplace of Laurence Sterne and Marguerite Power, Countess of Blessington, and the one time residence of Anthony Trollope. Former Mayor of Clonmel Charles Bianconi launched Ireland's first public transport system - the famous 'Bianconi Coaches' - from the town servicing a route between Clonmel and Cahir.
There are many other interesting buildings including the Town Hall, Franciscan Friary, and Court House as well as former churches which have been tastefully converted to other uses including the old Wesleyan which is now the White Memorial Theatre. The jail gate, of the famous Gaol of Cluain Meala, still stands and has been tastefully incorporated into a contemporary public building. This jail was the first and only Borstal institution in Ireland.
The idyllic grounds of St. Patrick’s Well, with its medieval church, ancient stone cross, dating from the 5th century, and bubbling springs are well worth a visit. Other places of interest in the town include the County Museum in Mick Delahunty Square and Marlfield Lake's wild bird sanctuary.
Clonmel Tourist office
Visit the website www.clonmeltourism.ie which provides useful information to assist you in planning your visit to the beautiful town of Clonmel and the surrounding areas.