Mallow (Magh Eala, "place of the stone") is a town in County Cork with a population of 12,459 in 2016. It's a market and light industrial town best known for its racecourse, and as the place you get stuck if you miss your rail connection to Killarney. As Mallow is the main town hereabouts, sights in the north of the county are also described here.
There isn't a physical TIC, but see the town website.
Proud symbols of Ireland's status as an independent nation: the Irish tricolour, Gaelic games, and, er, sugar? And with Mallow key to its story.
The usual sweetener in Europe was honey until the 17th century, then cane sugar became available, and people couldn't get enough of it. But it came from distant tropical countries and its production was back-breaking labour: you couldn't even flog Irish indentured labourers to harvest it, so it led to the widespread use of slavery in the Americas. It also came by long sea routes, which was dandy for Britain which owned the seas as confidently as it owned Ireland. It was harder to come by in rival nations, which even if not at war might suffer trade embargoes or tariffs.
Beets (more snappily known as weiße schlesische Zuckerrübe) were developed with higher sugar content by 1801 in Silesia, and Napoleon promoted the industry when France was cut off from Caribbean supplies. It was grown in a small way in Ireland - it grows well here, but requires deep ploughing and crop rotation with wheat and pulses. Sugar beet only flourished after independence, when like the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric plant it became a symbolic political project. It was subsidised in the interests of self-sufficiency, local employment, and alliance of agriculture with industry. Sugar refineries were built at Carlow, Mallow, Thurles and Tuam, run by the state-owned Irish Sugar Company, and in the 1930s the industry employed over 10,000. Mechanisation in the 1950s made beet-growing more efficient and less labour-intensive, with an autumn "Campaign" to harvest and process the crop. As well as table sugar, it went into confectionery and food products such as breakfast cereals, while a by-product was animal feed. But all this was only viable through subsidy, protectionist policy and state control.
In 1973 Ireland joined the European Economic Community, and had to comply with the Common Agricultural Policy. This set quotas for sugar production, favouring countries where it was a major crop, and in the 1980s the Tuam and Thurles factories closed. There were global curbs on all forms of state subsidy, and the company was privatised as Greencore. In 2005 / 06 the EU abolished sugar subsidies and tariffs that impoverished sugar-cane producing countries (pushing their farmers into the narcotics trade), and that spelt the end for the Carlow and Mallow factories. They were major employers, so it was a heavy blow for both towns. Ireland now imports all its sugar. In 2019 BEET Ireland was an attempt to re-start the home industry but it hasn't taken off.
Trains run hourly from Dublin Heuston, taking 2 hr 15 min to Mallow via Kildare, Portlaoise, Ballybrophy, Thurles and Limerick Junction, and continuing to Cork, another 25 min. Change at Limerick Junction coming from Limerick city, Waterford, Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel, Cahir and Tipperary.
Commuter trains also run non-stop between Mallow and Cork. It's the same fare as for the inter-city trains, about €10 single. Change at Cork for Midleton or Cobh.
1 Mallow railway station is 500 m west of town centre.
There are no direct buses from Dublin, travel via Cork or Limerick.
There isn't a bus station, the most central stop is Town Park on N72, a block south of Main Street.
From Dublin follow M7 / M8 to Mitchelstown then follow N73 west into town.
You can walk to the castle and the racetrack. The bus will get you to Buttevant, but you need wheels for anywhere else.
- The Clock House on Spa Square is the main building of note in town. Built in 1855, it's now just offices.
- 1 Mallow Castle, Castlelands. Daily 09:00-19:00. There are three buildings : the first, built in the 13th century by King John, became known as the Desmond castle, but was derelict by the 16th century. A fortified house was built in the 16th century, a rectangular 3-storey Jacobean building. Defence was still a major concern in that era so it was designed to have a good field of fire. It was wrecked in the Williamite wars and the third was built in the 19th century in baronial style, though incorporating older fragments. This third is in private ownership and you can't tour, but you can stroll round the shell of the other two. White fallow deer graze in the grounds. Free.
- 2 Beenalaght is a line of six standing stones, probably from Bronze Age; their ritual significance is unknown. One has fallen over. They're off R619, 12 km south of Mallow beyond the village of Bweeng.
- 3 Doneraile Court and Park, Turnpike Rd, Doneraile P51 XR66 (13 km northeast of Mallow), ☏ . Apr-Sept Th-Su 10:00-18:00. The mansion (from 1720, but re-modelled in the 19th C) is visited by guided tour, and admission includes the gardens. The surrounding parkland with red deer is free to enter daily, 09:00 to 20:00 in summer and 17:00 in winter. House adult €8, conc €6, child €4.
- 4 Buttevant is a village 20 km north of Mallow on N20 to Limerick. The main sight is the Franciscan Priory, founded in 1251 and dissolved in 1540. Illegal masses and hold-out friars persisted for almost 300 years, "little for the good of the King and the State", as one Protestant bishop complained. One km south of Buttevant along N20 is Ballybeg Priory, which was Augustinian and of similar dates: there's just a few walls standing and the stump of a castle. In July Cahirmee Horse Fair is held in town.
- 5 Kanturk Castle or "Old Court" is the substantial shell of a tower-house built in 1601. It was never completed, as English settlers suspected it was being raised as a bastion against them. It's 15 km west of Mallow and free to stroll around anytime.
- 6 Anne's Grove Gardens near Castletownroche are open in summer. The "miniature castle" is just a gatehouse lodge with cod parapets, rented out for self-catering.
- 7 Nano Nagle's birthplace is in Ballygriffin: she was an 18th century pioneer of Catholic education for girls. The heritage centre here only caters for pre-booked groups. Individuals can see more of Nagle's life and works at her centre in Cork.
- Gate Cinema is on Market Square.
- 1 Cork Racecourse, Killarney Road, Mallow (1.5 km west of village on N72), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. The course has flat-racing in summer and National Hunt (jumps) in winter. A free shuttle bus runs from the village on race days. The first steeplechase is believed have been held nearby in 1752 - literally "steeple chasing" from one village church to another over natural obstacles, without a prepared hurdled track. Adult €15, conc €10.
- 2 Mallow Golf Club is 1 km east of town, south bank of the river. Blue tees 5960 m, par 72.
- 3 Ballyhass Lakes, Ballyhass P51 N550 (10 km northwest of town), ☏ . Su M 09:00-17:00, Tu-Sa 09:00-21:00. Flooded quarry, now a water sports centre: water-skiing, kayaking, wakeboarding, aquapark and so on.
- Cahirmee Horse Fair is held at Buttevant 20 km north on 12 July, though it was cancelled in 2020. There's a legend that Copenhagen, the Duke of Wellington's horse at Waterloo, was bought here but it doesn't fit with his known dates. Napoleon's horse Marengo has been added to this tale, so it's only missing the mounts of Frederick the Great and George Washington for a full set: see Blarney.
SugarpuffsDownpatrick in County Down.
- Tesco in town centre is open daily 07:00-22:00. It doesn't have fuel.
- Gallery Bar & Restaurant, Castlelands (by Clock House), ☏ . Daily 16:00-20:30. 130-seater place with good food and service.
- The Arches, Bellevue (south bank of river), ☏ . Su-Th 10:00-23:30, F Sa 10:00-00:30. Cheerful bar and eating place.
- Jumbo Malaysian on Shortcastle St is open M-Sa 17:00-22:30, Su 13:00-22:30.
- There's a slew of pubs around the Clock House. Try any of Chasers, Colie's, Olde Fiddle, Sheehan's (aka Mona's), O'Keefe's or Maureen's. Bridge House Bar is just over the river.
- Annabella Lodge (west side of railway station), ☏ . Comfy convenient B&B. B&B double €90.
- Hibernian Hotel, Main St, ☏ , email@example.com. Central mid-range hotel, value for money. With fitness centre and conference facilities, live music on Thursday. B&B double €100.
- 1 Springfort Hall Hotel, Twopothouse P51 YP96 (5 km north of town), ☏ . Slick friendly country house hotel with great food, does a lot of functions. B&B double €100.
- 2 Longueville House, Ballyclough P51 KC8K (7 km west of town on N72), ☏ . Upscale hotel in Georgian country house in wooded parkland, just 12 rooms en suite. Presidents Restaurant has fine dining. They produce their own cider and calvados-style spirit. In late 2020 only the self-catering mews is available.
As of Nov 2020, Mallow has 5G from Eir and Three. With Vodafone you'll manage a call but might not get 4G.
- North is Limerick, with a Norman castle, Georgian centre and many visitor attractions.
- Northeast is Cahir, with a river island castle and the playful Swiss Cottage.
- East you pass through Fermoy to reach Lismore, with a castle and gardens.
- Cork city to the south needs several days to explore. Blarney is along the way, though by public transport you have to double back via Cork.
- West is Killarney and scenic County Kerry.