The freshly painted wooden shutters sigh a mild complaint as the morning sun pushes its way into the centuries old Irish room. Humming from the street below, the traffic signals a new work day in Newcastle West Ireland.

Tucking under the cozy duvet, the ancient castle walls outside shimmer their greeting  through our bedroom window. A lone heron stands perfectly still on a glistening rock in the Arra River below as if lining up the local ducks for morning row call.

Newcatle West Ireland Arra river ducks

Back in the room of our rental row house, the stone walls are no match for the high efficiency heater brought to life with the magic wand of remote control. Standing now at the window, I wonder what the Knights of Templar, who once gathered for banquets at Desmond Hall across the street, would think if they could see Newcastle West today.

Newcastle West Ireland Arra River

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It is the magical dream of many who travel. To find a location where tacky souvenir shops filled with bobbing head figurines have not pushed out the family run hardware store.

Traveling from Dublin the day prior, we watch the stone-bordered, green fields of County Limerick fly by like a vibrant Irish quilt. Our hope of finding such a treasure in the town of Newcastle West Ireland has come to reality.

Stepping out to greet the day, local artisans are diligently restoring the back buildings of the property. Thought to have been constructed in the 1600’s, the stone structures are transforming to cozy rental apartments under their skilled hands. The Old Bakery Studio includes an original feature wall where hundreds of years ago fresh baking came from the stone oven which remains intact.

“Are you here for a night on your way somewhere?”

The warm Irish greeting floats down from a nearby roof top.

Air BnB Newcastle west restoration

Restoration work in progress

Courtyard Newcastle West Air BnB

Courtyard 2019

“Oh no we are staying in Newcastle West for a week!”

My squealing enthusiasm causes a bit of an echo against the rounded stone archway which will be the future entry to the courtyard.

The puzzled expression from above speaks volumes.

Let it not be said that I am shy in expressing my delight at well made travel arrangements.

Arra River Newcastle West Ireland

“Have you seen the river, how beautiful it looks with the sun in the morning? With the birds and the bridges and the rock walls? You live in the an extraordinary place!”

The smile sweeps across the workman’s face. “I suppose we do.”

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Planning an Ireland travel itinerary and looking for the best place to stay in Ireland? Click to learn more about this Ireland hidden gem of Newcastle West. Centrally located this authentic Irish town filled with delicious Irish food and friendly folks is one of our best #Ireland travel tips. #Irelandtravel #Irelandtraveltips

 Newcastle West and the friendliest people in the land

The crosswalk lights blink their blessing and we four travel companions meander across the road, the stone bridge and the awaiting town square. The heron stands at attention keeping a watchful eye on his duck companions.

The tantalizing aroma of rich coffee and fresh baking lures us nose first into Marguerite’s Bakery. With scrumptious cakes and pastries jostling for our wide eyed attention, we settle in with warm scones and fresh jam.

Marguerites Newcastle West

“Are you just passing through?”

The friendly smile comes with a helpful look willing to  offer assistance should we be lost.

“Oh no we are in Newcastle West all week!”

The sensation of customers leaning toward us in curious fascination may be our imagination.

Living near the Canadian Rocky Mountains we ourselves often take the beauty of our setting as the normal. The local surprise at the length of our stay in Newcastle West may come from similar familiarity with beautiful surroundings.

In the town square, the statue of famed Irish poet Michael Hartnett thoughtfully watches the stone figure of 14th century Earl on horseback Gerald Fitzgerald frozen in time in front of Desmond Hall.

The banquet hall, which let’s be honest, to a visitor looks like a giant castle in the middle of town, sets a striking scene.

Back dropped by quaint and vibrant buildings, fruits and vegetables in market stalls compete in a colour contest with the autumn leaves.

Walking toward the nearly 100 acre Castle Demesne grounds, the boutique clothing shops of Newcastle West announce their presence. Mentioning no names, the gentleman of our traveling foursome seem less than interested in the Irish fashion scene and more in exploring the walking trails.

Castle Desmesne grounds Newcastle West Ireland

Castle Demesne grounds

 

Bartender lessons in Newcastle West

Let it not be said that our time in Ireland was all activity. Perhaps no friendlier place have we ever been than this Irish gem of a town. Within days of calling Newcastle West our adopted home, the hospitality of the locals wrapped around us like warm shawls.

At Dan Cronin’s Bar and Bistro, Hubby devours the “best Shepherd’s Pie on the planet.” Although initially the question of our long stay comes to conversation, soon we are fast friends. I am invited to try my hand at bartending.

Both learning to make a tasty gin and tonic, and with assistance pour a pint of Guinness, I am declared a candidate for possible employment at Dan Cronin’s should we decide to stay on.

The multi generation family run mainstay in town becomes a favourite destination of our Canadian foursome.

Irish singing anyone?

Numbering in the double digits, the pubs in our home away from home overflow with welcoming ways.  Several doors down from our accommodation in Newcastle West the purple exterior of Cleary’s Bar  and the sound of live music beckons us in.

Sitting near the musicians we are encouraged to take a turn singing.

“That’s what we do in Ireland!”

We quickly agree such shenanigans from our tone deaf foursome may cause breakage of large amounts of glassware.  However with the gifts of Irish charm, sips of local ale and clever choices of songs the evening ends at 2 am. Yes the Canadians sang!

After all that’s how it is in Ireland.

Cleary Pub Newcastle West Ireland

Known for my chatty behavior, my long suffering travel mates end up locked outside the pub in the Irish mist. While I bade an extended farewell to anyone who would listen they shivered in wait.

Thus the following day on our day trip to the Blarney Castle, I was forbidden to kiss the Blarney Stone. The evening prior had proven I should not require more gift of the gab from the magical stone.

In and Around New Castle West

Newcastle West Region Map

Click to enlarge map of points of interest near Newcastle West Ireland

Picking up brother-in-law at Newcastle West Golf Club the red leaves cling frantically to the 140 year old clubhouse. I suspect we might find our golf enthusiast travel partner blown to the next county.

Newcastle West Golf Club

As we sip warm tea and chat with new friends in the club house, our golfer arrives smiling ear to ear. Partnered with a welcoming and informative local playing partner, we hear the course is in excellent condition and a good challenge at a reasonable rate.

“A fortunate stop to this excellent parkland course!” declares our golfer. Apparently no surprise to him when we are told the Newcastle West Golf Club has been voted friendliest in the Irish province of Munster.

During the golf game, the rest of the Canadian travel gang heads to the Great Southern Trail. Formerly the route of the Tralee rail line dating back to 1867, it now serves as a hiking and cycling trail.

Great Southern Trail NewCastle West

Great Southern Trail Newcastle West

The outdoor equipment store in Newcastle West rents bicycles with advance notice. We three saunter along the trail this day playing paparazzi with the sheep and investigating local berries.

How about having a castle completely to yourself? Minutes from Newcastle West stands one of the finest 16th century tower houses to survive in Ireland. The six story tower comes complete with a steep narrow spiral staircase leading to an eye popping view.

Once the home of a wealthy landowner Glenquin castle sits quietly awaiting occasional visitors. Although the sign at first glance looks like the castle is only open May to September a local number invites visitors to call for access. 

Glenquin Castle View

View from the top of Glenquin Castle toward Newcastle West

Walking into the Barnagh Tunnel the giant ferns and vines grapple each other like a tropical rain forest embrace. The relatively undisturbed former Limerick Tralee rail tunnel is now safe haven for an extraordinary array of flora and fauna.

A little known one kilometre walk full of intrigue exploring the over 100 metre long tunnel.

Barnagh tunnel Newcastle West

Barnagh Tunnel Newcastle West

 

Day trips from Newcastle West Ireland

 

Map Day trips from Newcastle West Ireland

Click to enlarge map of day trips from Newcastle West Ireland

Newcastle West Ireland Day trip destination table

Almost all of our frenetic travel plans include unpacking in a new location every night or two.  Not so in Ireland. Staying in the central location of Newcastle West and exploring the countryside meant easy day trips. Returning to Newcastle West felt like coming home each evening.

Please click on the video below for a tour of Newcastle West and area.  We think you will love this Irish gem as much as we do.

 

With apologies to the rest of Ireland  when we are asked what was the best part of our trip each of us talk about our time in Newcastle West. The pretty little Irish town where new friends made us feel like old friends. 

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We were house guests of a friend in Newcastle West. All opinions and enthusiastic squeals are my own. If you would like to read more about the rental property you can find the information here.