ByRoute 2.2 Co. Kilkenny (S) // Co. Cork (E)

Tallow (Co. Waterford / West)

Tallow (Tulach an Iarainn – “the Hill of Iron”) (pop. 1000) is a pleasant little community. The main town, with eight pubs and three restaurants, is on the Glenaboy River, close to whee it joins the River Bride.

Convent St. (formerly Tallowbridge St.) (Photo by AFBorchert)

Tallow is recorded as one of the first garrisons to have been attacked in 1568 at the outbreak of the First Desmond Rebellion, when the original settlement on Tullow Hill was burned to the ground.

These lands formed part of the estates granted to Sir Walter Raleigh fo his part in crushing the Second Desmond Rebellion. He sold them to Sir Richard Boyle, future Earl of Cork, widely acknowledged as Ireland’s first Capitalist, who saw the area’s potential as a major iron-smelting centre. Tallow was granted a Charter  by King James I in 1614, and became famous for its fine cutlery, until all the surounding forests were consumed for charcoal.

Under the Dukes of Devonshire the town exported agricultual produce from a large hinterland down the River Bride and onwards to England, and also developed a reputation for the production of lace.

Lisfinney Castle & House


Lisfinney / Lisfinny Castle, now in ruins, was built in the C16th by the FitzGeralds of Desmond, and acquired after their disastrous Second Rebellion by Sir Walter Raleigh, who leased it to the Colthurst family from Devon. The property was sold to  Sir Richard Boyle, later 1st Earl of Cork, who wrote in his diary for 1st February 1620 “Began iron works near Lisfinney Castle. God bless all those who work them.” The castle was later held by the Croker family, also from Devon.


Engraving c.1834. (Image – Waterford County Museum)


Acquired by the Pynes of Ballyvolane House in nearby Castlelyons (Co. Cork), the castle featured in one of the most bizarre incidents in the late C19th Land War.


Jasper Douglas Pyne (1847 – 1888), described as “a flamboyant and exuberant character“, inherited the property and, unusually for someone of his Anglo-Irish Ascendancy background, converted to the cause of Irish tenant farmers. He became heavily involved with the Land League, was elected as the Home Rule MP for West Waterford in 1885, and following the notorious Scrahan evictions of October 1887, made such an inflammator speech that he was charged with inciting people to prevent the constabulary from carrying out their duties, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.


Having previously destroyed the entrance to the Castle and laid in every comfort for a protracted stay, he barricaded himself in an upper storey. Thousands of visitors came every evening, encouraging and cheering Mr Pyne; on at least one occasion the people of Tallow marched to the Castle led by the town band. Using a rope and pulley, he would harangue the crowds from a big bucket dangling 30ft overhead; the RIC could only look on helplessly, carefully writing down every word he said.


Mr. Pyne eventually escaped from his self-imprisonment by passing unrecognised through the police cordon while locals stampeded a herd of cattle, and eluded the police for some time before he was dramatically arrested on his way into Parliament at Westminster. Following legal wrangling, further arrests and a trial, he was finally convicted and served time in prison, after which he was declared bankrupt and forced to sell his land.


The “Hero of Lisfinny” disappeared from the SS Shamrock on a journey between Holyhead and Dublin in November 1888. No body was found and it is not known if he was pushed overboard, fell or committee suicide.


Lisfinney House, an elegant early C19th Georgian mansion, has long been the centrepiece of a small Stud Farm, still in operation. The main building has been carefully restored and modernised, and is available to groups of up to eight people for fully catered holiday rentals.

The church of the Immaculate Conception (RC), built in 1826, is an exceptionally handsome building with an elegant slim tower, set in rather bleak grounds.

Tallow is probably best known for its Horse Fair, held on 3rd September each year since 1910. The event attracts sellers and buyers from all over Ireland and abroad. A wide range of activities takes place, including free musical and other performances on the stage in the main Square.

Tallow hosts annual point-to-point races every spring.

Tallow was the birthplace of two mildly famous John Hogans, who died in the same year; one was a minor poet (1780-1858) and the other a moderately succesful sculptor (1800-1858). Other interesting natives include Tobias Kirby, appointed Archbishop of Ephesus in 1885, and Frank Ryan, a well-known C20th tenor.

Tallowbridge (Drichead Tulach an Iarainn) is named for its bridge spanning the River Bride, constructed in the early C17th to facilitate the local iron smelting industry.

The Brideview Bar & Restaurant, housed in a former hunting lodge of the Dukes of Devonshire, comprises a cosy pub with an open fire, a lovely riverside terrace / deck and a stylish restaurant with lobster tank. Restored and run by Noel and Annemarie Costello, this is an exceptionally pleasant place to drink and / or eat (bistro-style or full formal), and also has a shop selling local produce and a self-catering cottage.

Tallow Hill commands panoramic views of the Bride River Valley on one side and the Blackwater River Valley on the other.

Tallow is a good place to begin a tour of the Lower Blackwater Region (highly recomended).

Tallow is south of Lismore and Ballyduff on ByRoute 3, and is also quite near Knockanore in the Lower Blackwater Region.


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