The nice thing about this particular drive is the length – at a mere 25kms, it can be easily enjoyed in a day. Of course, you could spend a week here exploring in depth its villages, side roads, walking trails and beaches – it’s entirely up to you!

Located in County Waterford in Ireland’s south east, the coastal route takes its name from the local 19th century copper mines. Now a UNESCO Global Geopark, there are excellent information panels along the way , describing the various geological and human features that make up the region.

UNESCO Global Geopark status is awarded to special regions with outstanding geology where human interaction with the particular landscape is evident.
The Copper Coast was formed by volcanic activity near the South Pole and evolved over 460 million years. Oceans, volcanoes and ice sheets all combined to create layers of rock which are exposed along the coast. Neolithic, Iron Age, pre Christian, early Christian and medieval inhabitants, along with the mining industry of the 19th century, have all contributed to the cultural, social and archaeological heritage of the region.

So – what can you expect on your drive…..

Beaches – Lots of Beaches!

Just drive along until you find a favourite….

Dramatic Coast

Gorgeous Roads and Lanes…

Rolling Fields

Cute Harbours

The Mining Legacy

You can still see the foundation walls above the main shaft, the engine house, a chimney and fragments of the steam engine building – a reminder that this was once the site of a thriving industry.

Many experienced miners arrived from Wales and at its height, the local population soared from 200 to 5,000. It was a tough life – men had to form teams and bid for seams – if a seam was poor, they ended up owing the company for service. Wages weren’t bad but were paid in tokens – redeemable at the company store!

Taverns did a roaring trade until the local priest launched a temperance movement! By June 1840, a moral police force of 6 men ensured that miners did not enter any premises that sold alcohol. Females who might encourage the men into such establishments were banished from the area! (apparently the abstinence not only benefitted the miners’ souls but also the mining business itself as productivity increased greatly in that period!!)

Gradually, competition from cheaper sources abroad became too much to withstand and the mines closed in 1879. The population shrank dramatically again – many families heading off to seek their fortunes in the mines of Montana and Utah…

Bog Walk

Fenor Bog is a naturally regenerating fen habitat – once a raised bog where turf was cut. The 500m boardwalk allows access to over 225 plants and animals.

Village Traditions

Handball has been played in Ireland from at least the mid-1500s and purpose-built handball alleys first emerged in the late 1700s. By the early 20th century, three-wall alleys were a familiar sight throughout the country. Interest in the sport has somewhat declined and it is now mainly an indoor activity. But many alleys remain, either having been adapted for other use or fallen into disrepair…

The much respected trade of thatching was passed down from father to son. Materials varied according to a region’s produce – in arable areas it might be oat, wheat or rye straw while in other areas it might be just heather or rushes. Ropes feature in coastal areas – securing the thatch against the abrasive weather conditions.

Impressive Ruins

Dunhill Castle has stood high above the River Anne since the 13th century. Battles and storms have long taken their toll but, although there isn’t much remaining, the view from up there isn’t bad!

A Great Cycle Route

The Waterford Greenway provides 46km of car-free pathway along a disused railway line. Starting from Waterford city, you can cycle, walk or run across eleven bridges, three viaducts, through a 400m-long tunnel and along the banks of the River Suir, enjoying great scenery all the way to the Copper Coast.

Not to mention the numerous bits and bobs attracting your attention along the way…..

This is the Tree of Hope also know as The Angel of Fenor.

Sculptor John Hayes came up with the idea for the 45 ft high wooden sculpture when discussions were taking place about removing a damaged old tree from Fenor Church yard. The structure includes three angels and a dove representing a message of Hope.

This fancy construction is the remains of a lime kiln, where limestone was heated until
it crumbled and was then used for fertilising the land.

Ice, Fire and Water is a massive piece of limestone symbolising the elemental forces that created this piece of coastline.

The Logo

The two ‘C’s represent Copper Coast of course but they also suggest a compass – pointing South East. The colours and stripes portray the layers of rock and reflect the geological heritage of the area.

16 thoughts on “SELF DRIVING ROUTES YOU’LL LOVE IN IRELAND: The Copper Coast

  1. That looks like a beautiful drive 🙂 I love the rocky coastline, the almost-empty beaches and the ruins, both castle and mining. The Tree of Hope is beautiful and I know I’d enjoy the bog walk too 😀

    1. It’s a lovely corner of the country – doesn’t get the same crowds as the west but is definitely coming in to its own nowadays – the cycle track has brought a lot of business..

  2. Such fantastic photos, Marie. It is one of the best places to visit in Ireland if you want to avoid crowds and find under-the-radar alternatives to some busier spots. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    1. There’s a long tradition of family holidays at some of the bigger beaches – but sure there’s plenty of room for everyone!

      1. The ‘problem’ of course is that there are so many incredible drives around the coast that it’s way down the pecking order…

  3. It’s a great day trip, I remember once ending up in Tramore which looks like a scene from 40 years ago with its permanent summer funfair and signs restricting some beaches to women.

    1. The beach signs are still there!! You’re right – it is a bit of a throwback but is hugely popular and a very busy spot… I’ve never been there in summer but wouldn’t fancy looking for parking on a good day!

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