Fermoy Town Walk
Begin your walk from the quay outside the Grand Hotel.Proceeding up-river (away from the bridge), you will pass the Fermoy Youth Centre on your left. The Youth Centre used to house a ballroom and cinema but, in recent years, has become a sporting venue and infrequently used theatre and concert venue.Passing by the Youth Centre, the next public premises is the Fermoy Rowing Club, built in 1984 and opened that same year – the Rowing Club’s centenary year.Proceeding to the right of the Rowing Club, you will enter the beautiful Barnane Walk, which parallels the River Blackwater and is shaded by trees. Midway along Barnane, you will pass St Bernard’s Well on your left. At one time, this well was the source of water for many of the people living in Fermoy.
Continue to the stile at the end of Barnane. Continuing over the stile will take you onto the trail for the Corrin Loop. For the purposes of the Fermoy Town Walk, however, retrace your steps along Barnane and, at the Rowing Club, turn right up Waterloo Lane and exit on McCurtain Street.
Upon reaching McCurtain Street, turn left and proceed to Fermoy Resource Centre. Cross the street here and head back in the direction from which you came.
Just before Bishop Murphy Memorial School, you will cross Monument Hill. A short distance up the hill are the main gates of St Colman’s College. This is the diocesan college of Cloyne and the boys’ secondary school.
Walk past the Bishop Murphy Memorial School, keeping it on your left. Directly across the street is Gaelscoil de hÍde, an Irish-language school. This building previously housed the town’s vocational school. The original sign – ‘Technical Institute 1931’ – remains on the wall to the left of the school gates.
After passing Bishop Murphy Memorial School, you will come to the CYMS Hall. Originally a national school, it has been the focus of youth activities for many years. It houses one of the finest billiard rooms in north Cork, and is home to the Fermoy Concert Band and the Thomas Kent Pipe Band.
Proceed along Cork Hill, veering left.
Take the first turn left, bringing you onto Chapel Square, and note the beautiful facade of St Patrick’s Catholic church. This site was donated to the Church by John Anderson, the man who founded and designed the town of Fermoy.
Should you wish to visit the church, certainly do so.
Exit at the rear of the churchyard, next to the Blue Nun’s convent. Turn right up Monument Hill, then turn left onto Emmet Street. Walk along the back of St Colman’s College and pass Loreto Secondary School – the girls’ secondary school – and Presentation Primary School.
Opposite Presentation Primary School, note the big building a little back from the road. This is known as ‘The Manor’ and was formerly the Fermoy College for boys.
Turn left down Richmond Hill, noting the very high footpath which overtops the road by approximately six feet and which is quite similar to the Range on Cork Hill.
Turn right at the bottom of Richmond Hill, bringing you onto Patrick Street. This leads in turn leads into O’Rahilly Row. A number of neat little houses are terraced here and, at the Courthouse end, you will find an old stone building which was once the Wesleyan Church (but which now houses Avondhu Motor Factors).
Facing you and on your right are the Fermoy council offices and Courthouse.
One kilometre further, on your right, is the Fermoy Hospital. Should you wish to visit the grounds, proceed through the gates, up the drive and under the archway.
Having returned to the road, turn right. There is no footpath here, so proceed with caution. On the left of the sharp right-hand bend, there is an entrance-way which leads to a track that will bring you down to the Blackwater.
For film buffs, this track will be especially worth following. It will bring you out on the banks of the river at a point from which you will be able to see the Fermoy viaduct, famous for its use in aerial stunts for The Blue Max (1966).
Retrace your steps to the main road, then turn right to return to the town. Take the first right, bringing you onto the Mill Road.
On your left is the Mart which, in days gone by, was known as the Fairfield. Cattle, sheep and pigs were bartered for and sold here until, in a bid to reduce ‘Mart Day’ traffic, the Mart was moved outside the town limits.
Facing you at the end of the road is the Old Mill, which has been refurbished and turned into modern office space. Turn left and proceed up the quay.
On your right, you will see the millrace which, when the mill was still active, provided the water to turn the wheel. You will also see the sluice gates, which controlled the speed and volume of water amd were used to dam the water while the mill-wheel was being serviced.
From this point, there is a beautiful view of the bridge and the town weir.
Cross the bridge to the north side of town, taking time to look along the river to the east and west of the bridge structure – take in the weir, the mill, the Grand Hotel, the Rowing Club and the full sweep of Barnane.
Continue into Brian Boru Square. Pass the entrance to Frances Street/Rathealy Road and the stone-cut houses (Abbeyville) on your right, and proceed up Oliver Plunkett Hill (known locally as Barrack Hill).
Note again the way the road has been cut down below the footpath on both sides of the hill.
At the signpost indicating Fermoy G.A.A., turn right. At the end of this street are the old gates of the former British military barracks. They now serve as the entrance to the grounds of the Fermoy G.A.A. Club.
Return to the main road and turn right, continuing uphill.
At the first crossroads you come to, you will see remnants to your left of the railway bridge which once spanned the road and which carried rail traffic from Rosslare to Fermoy.
On the right-hand side, in an area now occupied by a small shopping plaza, was the old Railway Station, serving the Waterford line – this line was built on the order of the Duke of Devonshire and was subsequently extended as far as Rosslare.
Continue straight through the crossroads. Behind the wall on your immediate right was the old military hospital, which closed down when the British military departed the town of Fermoy in 1923. The plot is now occupied by the Aldi shopping chain.
Continue along the Dublin Road and, on your left, you will pass the remains of the Fitzgerald Camp military barracks.
Cross the road and turn back toward the town. The land next to the army camp used to be a nine-hole golf course. The Golf Club is now situated near Corrin Hill.
As you get closer to the town, you will pass the former coal yards. In the early part of the century, these were supplied with coal from the railway station. There is a coal depot on the site to this day.
At the crossroads, turn right. After 1km, you will arrive at Neligan’s funeral home. When the railway bridge was built over the Dublin road, the Duke of Devonshire’s railway station went out of use. The building that now houses the funeral home became the new station.
Further along this road, past Neligan’s, is an industrial estate that is home to a number of significant industries.
Walk down the street directly opposite Neligan’s to the old entrance of Faber-Castell, on the site of the old British barracks.
Turn left, pass by St Joseph’s National School, then turn right into Marian Square.
At the far right hand corner of the square, there is a passageway beside the old barrack wall, which passes the entrance to the Fermoy Rugby Club grounds.
Upon reaching the end of this passageway, turn right, following the road around. Pass the old British military complex and proceed through the gates of the Soccer Club grounds. Pass by the playing fields to the far end of the complex, where you will find the Famine Graveyard, indicated by a small plaque at the North End.
Pass through the Famine Graveyard to reach the British military graveyard.
Retrace your steps and take the first turn right down the hill. On your left, you will find Christ Church. This is the town’s Protestant church..
As you continue down the hill toward the town centre, you will pass the beautiful town park. Here you will find a play area for children as well as a swimming pool and gym. It is also a lovely spot to take a break, or just to stroll among the trees – a highly recommended stop on your tour of the town.
Upon exiting the park, turn right. Crossing the bridge you arrive back at the Grand Hotel and your starting point.
– Information on walk provided by Barry Connolly, Tom Baker, Kevin O’Farrell and Tom Tobin, from their guide ‘Walking in Fermoy, the Galtees and Surroundings’ (Fermoy, 1999)