Lismore is one of Ireland's grandest places to get lost in. Popular with both anglers and romantics, the enchanting little town is built on the banks of the Blackwater, a river famous for its trout and salmon. From the 7th to the 12th century it was an important monastic center, founded by St. Carthac (or Carthage), and it had one of the most renowned universities of its time. The village has two cathedrals: a soaring Roman Catholic one from the late 19th century, and the Church of Ireland's St. Carthage's, which dates from 1633 and incorporates fragments of an earlier church.
Glamour arrived in the form of the dukes of Devonshire, who built their Irish seat here, Lismore Castle (their main house is Chatsworth in England); in the 1940s, Fred Astaire, whose sister, Adele, had married Lord Charles Cavendish, younger son of the ninth duke, would bend the elbow at the town's Madden's Pub. Other architectural jewels include a quaint library funded by Andrew Carnegie and the Ballysaggartmore "folly"—a Gothic-style gateway to a 19th-century house that was so costly the house itself was never erected.