Search Results : Co. Fermanagh

Jul 032010
 

Irish Independent – WALK OF THE WEEK – Christopher Somerville

3 July 2010

65. Castle Archdale and White Island, Co. Fermanagh

On a lovely summer morning the White Island ferry, zooming across the glassy waters of Lower Lough Erne from Castle Archdale marina, had me landed on the tree-encircled island in somewhat less than a jiffy.

The wartime roar of Sunderland and Catalina flying boats, the suck and hiss as they took off from the lake, the thump and splash as they set down – none of these disturbed the stony staring of the eight watchers of White Island, who had been guarding their islet off Castle Archdale for at least a thousand years when war came to County Fermanagh in 1941. Today, exploring the ruined church and the enigmatic figures ranked along its wall, I felt that frisson one experiences in the presence of ancient likenesses of the human form.

Who or what had that Dark Ages sculptor been trying to represent? He certainly carved a saucy sheela-na-gig, legs akimbo, who now flashes her monkey grin at one end of the line. The other end is closed by a sulky face. But what of those others in between? Round-eyed, bearing blank expressions and holding mysterious, weather-blurred objects … Were these a saintly scribe, a bishop, St David singing with a harp? Two versions of Christ, one banging the heads of two gryphons together, the other a curly-haired warrior with round shield and stabbing sword? Or did their creator have something altogether different in mind when he set to with his chisel on the quartzite slabs he’d smoothed? One stone he left with only the ghostly outline of a figure. What prevented him finishing his great series – sickness, an enemy raid, death? I sat on the landing stage and waited for the ferry back to Castle Archdale with a head full of speculation.

A World War II heritage trail loops round the headland where in 1615 the ‘planter’ John Archdale, fresh over in Ulster from Suffolk, built a fortified stronghold. The castle is long gone, but its walled courtyard holds a fascinating wartime exhibition. Lough Erne was perfectly placed (once a secret deal over airspace had been struck with the Republic) for reconnaissance and U-boat hunting trips out into the Atlantic, and the wooded peninsula became home to thousands of youngsters from many corners of the world. I learned with admiration of those flyers from Britain, Canada and the US, their stolid courage on the job, and the high jinks they got up to back at base in order to let off steam.

Walking the trail, I crossed beautiful woodland where the horse chestnuts were displaying the faded remnants of pink and white candle flowers. Under the trees crouched the shapes of fuel and ammunition stores smothered under moss and ivy, as overgrown and ancient-looking as Stone Age huts. It was strange to walk with so many ghosts – down on the marina with its big white beacon and memorial stone to wartime crash victims, and out along the ‘Burma Road’, a jungly path cut through the forest to reach the isolated explosives dumps. These days a caravan park covers the maintenance apron where the flying boats were repaired, and bluebells carpet the glade where Canadian aircrew once roomed in Nissen huts that were nicknamed ‘Skunk Hollow’ because their sewers gave out an ineradicable stink. From here the young lads would escape to local bars and dance halls, to laugh and drink and jive and jitterbug like hell.

Down on the lake path the view was of low hills reflected in wide water. Coots honked stridently from the reed beds. A swan came in from the open lake, sawing its wings, as white and lumbering as a Sunderland flying boat. It skated along the water, kicking up a bow wave. A shiver of folding wings, a shake of the neck, and it was sailing serenely to shore. All seemed right with the world under the blue Fermanagh sky; and as I passed ponds shimmering with water boatmen and turned back towards the Courtyard Centre, I could only hope that those young Air Force men and women, at war and far from home, had snatched some precious moments such as these.

WAY TO GO

MAP: OS of Northern Ireland 1:50,000 Discoverer 17; downloadable maps/instructions at www.walkni.com

TRAVEL:
Rail/bus (integrated website – www.nirailways.co.uk): Ulsterbus 194 (Pettigo-Enniskillen) to Lisnarick (1 mile)
Road: Signed off B82/B72 at Lisnarick (postcode BT94 1PP)

WALK DIRECTIONS (World War 2 Heritage Trail marked with numbered posts): From Courtyard Centre descend steps to car park; sharp left past ‘No Entry’ sign on path through trees. Follow ‘Woodland Walk’ signs to roadway. Left for 30 yards; right to marina. Left to beacon; left along shore path; bear right at yellow marker, continue on cycle track. At another yellow marker, right to shore path. Follow it through Skunk Hole car park. Follow ‘Butterfly Garden’ past pond, butterfly garden and deer enclosure. Dogleg right and left to gate at drive (don’t go through!). Left along path; right to castle gardens.

LENGTH: 2½ miles: allow 1-2 hours

GRADE: Easy

RATINGS: 3 buggies, 2 binoculars

DON’T MISS … !
• World War II exhibition
• White Island
• Butterfly garden

REFRESHMENTS: Tearoom, 11-6 – July-August daily; Sep weekends

GUIDE BOOKS/LEAFLETS: available at Visitor Centre

INFORMATION: White Island ferry (028-6862-1892): July-August daily, 11-5; Sep weekends
Castle Archdale Visitor Centre: 028-6862-1588; July-August 11-7, Tue-Sun;
www.ni-environment.gov.uk/places_to_visit…/parks/archdale.htm

WALKING: Walking tour operators, local walks including Discover Ireland’s National Loop Walks and Northern Ireland’s Quality Walks, walking festivals throughout Ireland: www.walkni.com; www.discoverireland.ie/walking

Other information: www.discovernorthernireland.com

csomerville@independent.ie

 Posted by at 2:44 pm
Oct 032009
 

Irish Independent – WALK OF THE WEEK – Christopher Somerville

3 October 2009

28. Glen Wood Trail, Florence Court, Co. Fermanagh

You couldn’t conceive of a more perfect example of classical symmetry than Florence Court House, if you ruffled through Palladio’s pattern-books for a month of Sundays. The square-built house of the Earls of Enniskillen gleamed in the strong sun, its arcaded wings of silvery stone extended as if for flight, as Jane and I surveyed it from a clearing in the oakwoods of Florence Court park. The amorphous bulge of Cuilcagh Mountain blocked in the background, with the Cardinal’s hat of Benaughlin alongside. Whatever else County Fermanagh holds by way of stunning views, this prospect of art and nature beautifully juxtaposed would take some beating.

The Glen View Trail through the Florence Court woods lay spattered with blots of inky shade and intense light. Out on the grasslands huge specimen trees – oaks, beeches, chestnuts, yews – stood storm-beaten, splintered and amputated, bowed but not broken down by centuries of gales and lightning strikes. Surely the famous Florence Court Yew, 250 years old and endlessly harvested for seedlings, must be the most battered of all? So we imagined; but when we came on the venerable Taxus baccata fastigiata on its little saddle of grass, the original Irish yew looked in remarkably rude health. It was George Wills, a tenant farmer, who found two strange-looking seedlings at Carrick-na-Madagh on the slopes of Cuilcagh back in the 1760s. The one he planted in his own garden died, but the seedling he gave to the Earl of Enniskillen did remarkably well – so much so that the whole race of the Irish yew, in every corner of the world, is directly descended from its cuttings and those of its long-deceased sibling.

We fell in with another couple, keen members of the Fermanagh Ramblers Club, who walked a step of the way with us, talking of the pleasures and problems of working out routes through the patchwork of privately owned properties that make up their native county. What a debt the country walkers of Ireland owe to these local clubs of rambling enthusiasts, volunteers one and all, who tirelessly and tactfully liaise with farmers and landowners all across the island.

Now the track crossed the cascades of a brace of streams, and began to climb among the trees. Puffballs lay half concealed in the grasses, where clumps of eyebright rose on stalks elongated by the need to reach the sunlight in their shady situation. Magnificent peacock butterflies sunned themselves on the warm pebbles of the path, spreading wings so extravagantly colourful they might have been freshly painted that morning. We left the Glen View Trail and headed on up the Cuilcagh Way long-distance track to the upper edge of the trees, where rowan trees blazed orange with early autumn berries. The prow of Benaughlin, curved outward and downward like the forefoot of an upturned ship, suddenly stood near and dominant. The fractured waters and islands of Upper Lough Erne splashed the lowlands beyond with scattered gleams. A stunner of a panorama, more than worth the muddy climb up to it.

Back on the Glen View Trail, we followed the circuit on down to where the Cuilcagh Way cut. Split tongues of monbretia poked in startling orange out from thickets of horsetails lining the damp margins of the track. Bees were busy in their hundreds on the flowerheads of umbellifers that we tried in vain to identify. Memo to self: must brush up on that.

Back in the gardens of Florence Court House we passed below a dripping wooden aqueduct or headrace that fed a big cast-iron waterwheel. In the shed alongside, a wicked-looking circular saw whirred round. Roughly sawn planks lay nearby. There was a fine resinous smell of sawdust, a quiet clanking from the wheel and a rattle from the slack old driving belt. Closing my eyes, I could easily imagine it was 1909 and the intervening century had never even been.

WAY TO GO

MAP: OS of Northern Ireland 1:50,000 Discoverer 26; downloadable map/instructions (highly recommended) at www.walkni.com

TRAVEL: Florence Court is signposted from A32 Enniskillen-Swanlinbar road.

WALK DIRECTIONS: From Forest Park car park, follow Glen Wood Trail/GWT red arrows and Cuilcagh Way/CW signs. After 2¾ miles, CW and GWT diverge at Finlane (OS ref H 168330). To continue along GWT, follow forest road to right (red arrow). To enjoy a superb view of Benaughlin Mountain, keep ahead here southwards up CW for ½ mile (narrow, muddy path!) to stile at edge of trees (168321); then return to Finlane and bear left on GWT. In ⅔ mile GWT rejoins CW (163335); right here and follow CW back to car park.

LENGTH: 5 miles (6 with Benaughlin view detour): allow 2-3 hours

GRADE: Easy

CONDITIONS: Good surfaced paths

DON’T MISS … !
• Sawmill and waterwheel
• The Florence Court Yew
• Benaughlin view

REFRESHMENTS: Florence Court tearooms

ACCOMMODATION: Arch House Guesthouse, 59 Marble Arch Road, Florencecourt, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh BT92 1DE; (00-44) 028-6634-8452; www.archhouse.com

GUIDE BOOKS/LEAFLETS: Leaflet guides to Glen Wood Way available at Florence Court Tearooms and gift shop

INFORMATION: Florence Court (National Trust): tel (00-44) 028-6634-8249; http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-florencecourt. Gardens/Park open year round (car: £3.50); House open Feb-Nov, varying days (check before arriving) – £5 tour. NT members free.

Walking tour operators, local walks including Discover Ireland’s National Loop Walks and Northern Ireland’s Quality Walks, walking festivals throughout Ireland: www.walkni.com; www.discoverireland.ie/walking

NATIONAL TRAILS DAY 2009: Sunday 4 October (www.nationaltrailsday.ie)

INFORMATION:
Tourist Office: Enniskillen TIC, Wellington Road; tel (00-44) 028-6632-3110; www.fermanaghlakelands.com; www.discovernorthernireland.com

csomerville@independent.ie

 Posted by at 2:04 pm
Apr 092013
 

Sheila the sheepdog came grinning up to us as we put on our boots outside the Sliabh Beagh Hotel. ‘She’s not long back from maternity leave,’ Paddy Sherry told us, ‘but she’ll be coming with us.’ Was she his? ‘Ah, no,’ said Paddy, ‘but she won’t let anyone leave her out of a walk.’

A true word. Sheila proved an excellent leader, guiding us unerringly across the squashy southern skirts of Sliabh Beagh, the low mountain of damp blanket bogs and hollows that rises where three counties meet – Fermanagh, Tyrone, and Monaghan where the Tra Walk is set. Sheila had little to say for herself. The same couldn’t be said of Paddy Sherry, a man who rejoices in introducing walkers to the hidden crannies of his native country, and isn’t afraid to share its myths, geology, history and wildlife delights with all comers. Paddy and others in the local community work like Trojans to bring life and a bit of prosperity to their often disregarded area – everything from building their own Sliabh Beagh Hotel and Tourism Centre (the hub of the community hereabouts) to laying out a whole system of country walks.

We set out up a lane between the small fields of late-cut hay so typical of Monaghan’s back-country farms. The verges were a spatter of wild flowers – gold St John’s wort, pink and white dog roses, tall purple thistles, pink bursts of ragged robin and tall common spotted orchids of every hue between white and mauve. A donkey in an adjacent field let off a tremendous klaxon of a bray that made us all jump and giggle.

The lane snaked to and fro, gradually gaining height through thickets of young alder and silver birch, to bring us out at last into the open blanket bog that spreads itself far and wide on the slopes of Sliabh Beagh. ‘As a young lad I used to dread father saying he was going to the bog,’ Paddy said, ‘because I knew that’d be it for the summer – I’d be baked, frozen, soaked to the skin or ate alive by midges! It’s only recently that I’ve seen the bog for what it is – magic and beautiful, a place for wildlife to be undisturbed, a place for solitude. I call it my psychiatrist’s chair, you know…’

The psychiatrist’s chair today was adorned with golden stars of bog asphodel, butterfly orchids and milkmaid, the pale springtime bloom that some call cuckoo flower or lady’s smock. ‘We all owe the bog our water,’ said Paddy, ‘this is where it all comes from,’ and we believed him as we squelched and skidded across the brilliant red and green sphagnum, as soaked as any sponge, and hurdled ditches glinting black and oily with deep bog water. ‘I bring kids up here and get them to jump in there,’ Paddy told us. ‘They come out black all over, wellies full, and laughing fit to burst. That’s the way to get them to appreciate all this – hands on.’

A juicy, sloppy track beside gunmetal-grey Lough Antrawer and we were dropping down the long road home, with distant Slieve Gullion and the rolling high ground of Cavan spread before us to sweeten the way back to Knockatallon.

WAY TO GO

MAP: OS of Ireland 1:50,000 Discovery 18, 27; also ‘Sliabh Beagh’ map (from Sliabh Beagh Development Association, 028-6775-1918, sliabhbeagh.org); map/route card from Sliabh Beagh Hotel (see below).
GPS: satmap.com

TRAVEL: From Monaghan Town, N54 towards Clones. Right on outskirts of town on R186 (‘Balinode, Scotstown, Sliabh Beagh’). Through Balinode to Scotstown; over crossroads in Scotstown; in 500m, right on minor road for 3 miles/5 km to T-junction at Strathnahincha Bridge, Drumcoo. Left to Sliabh Beagh Hotel.

WALK DIRECTIONS: From Sliabh Beagh Hotel, right down road. In ½ mile/0.8 km, at left bend before bridge, turn right (Tra Walk’/TW). In ¾ mile/1.5 km, at turning circle (TW post 36), right past iron post up grass path. In 250 m keep ahead (not left fork). Path ascends; in 400 m fork left (TW post 38 on left) for nearly 1 mile (1.5 km), passing radio mast at summit of Stramacilroy townland. At crossroads of paths with green/black metal barriers, right (TW post). In ¾ mile (1.5 km), right at TW post 40. In ½ mile (0.7 km), just past quarry, Sliabh Beagh Way goes left across footbridge; but you keep following stony track of TW. At Lough Antrawer stay left of fence along left side of lake, then follow succession of TW posts across wet bogland (beware deep ditches!) and 2 metal bridges, up to stony road (TW post 51). Right for 2 miles to road near Strathnahincha Bridge; right to Sliabh Beagh Hotel.

LENGTH: 7½ miles/12 km; allow 3-4 hours

GRADE: Easy

CONDITIONS: Mostly lanes and good forests/bog roads; very wet and sloppy around Lough Antrawer. Watch out for deep ditches near the lough!

DON’T MISS…!
• Sensational flowers of the bog
• Wonderful views south over Slieve Gullion and Monaghan/Cavan countryside

REFRESHMENTS/ACCOMMODATION/INFORMATION: Sliabh Beagh Hotel and Tourism Centre, Knockatallon, Co. Monaghan (047-89014; knockatallon.com/Accommodation) – friendly, well-informed community hotel, the hub of walking and social activity locally. €70 dble B&B

BEST PICNIC SPOT: Picnic tables at Knockanearla quarry

GUIDED WALKS: Paddy Sherry, Boots ‘n’ Bogs (087-252-5457; paddyparaban@eircom.net).

WALKING in IRELAND: Walking tour operators, local walks including Discover Ireland’s National Loop Walks, walking festivals throughout Ireland: www.discoverireland.ie/walking and www.coillte.ie

BOOK: Christopher’s book Walking in Ireland (Ebury Press) contains 50 of his favourite Irish Independent walks.

INFORMATION: Monaghan Tourist Office (047-81122;
discoverireland.ie/places-to-go-location/monaghan

csomerville@independent.ie

Words: 917

 Posted by at 2:20 pm
May 262012
 

An ominous sky arched over Blacklion, a bouncy-looking featherbed of clouds, billows and hollows of grey extending across the Cavan-Fermanagh border. Not that the prospect of rain would deter Oliver Usher, gently humorous walker and knowledgeable ponderer of the natural world, nor his rambling chum Ellen Graney, energetic bagger of peaks and devourer of mighty long distances. As things turned out, we took all day to cover only a handful of miles along the Cavan Way.

Topping the road out of Blacklion we were immediately into beautiful hilly country, with the great tent shape of Cuilcagh Mountain dominating the view ahead and the humps of the Ox Mountains rising away in the west. In the farmyard at Ture stood the rusty cast-iron frame of a heavy old clothes mangle. ‘It’s a good few years since I caught my fingers in that!’ smiled the farmer as he waved us away up the lane.

As we climbed, a wide view opened to the north over Lough Macnean Upper and its flotilla of thickly wooded islets. Up above abandoned Corratirrim farmhouse we were out on the open hillside, walking over sedgy grass and limestone pavement dotted with wind-stunted orchids and brilliant blue tongues of milkwort. ‘See these beautiful stone walls?’ said Oliver. ‘Each stone picked specifically for its shape, to fit exactly with the others.’

On over heather and bilberry, to enter the coniferous plantation that masks the secrets of County Cavan’s own Burren region. Neolithic man must have sensed an extraordinary spiritual resonance in this steep landscape of knolls and hollows, because the Burren is crowded with ancient ritual and burial sites, some swallowed by the trees, others standing in plain view.

In the heart of the forest a slope of huge scattered rocks forms a boulder grave. The multi-ton capstone of the Calf House dolmen (a local farmer once penned his cattle within) lies tilted into the earth. The massive, mossy slabs of the Tulaigh an Ghobáin wedge tomb stand silent in a clearing. Within hailing distance lies the Giant’s Grave, another wedge tomb, largely intact, a hundred feet long, with its five capstones still in place. Sight-lines connected all the tombs of this prehistoric necropolis before the trees interrupted them. Nowadays one stands and stares, revolving ancient mysteries on the imagination’s palate.

Other treasures lay signposted among the trees. We rocked the Rocking Stone, sat in the giant stone Druid’s Chair and admired the Ring Marked Stone. Then it was out of the forest and steeply down a slope, to Manragh and a country road between old-fashioned hayfields thick with ragged robin, docks and buttercups.

On past Legeelan crossroads with its beehive-shaped sweathouse, a primitive kill-or-cure sauna for sufferers of agues and pains. Over marshy fields scented with fragrant orchids and bog myrtle, where rare greater butterfly orchids grew ten a penny. And down, finally, to the Shannon Pot, where Ireland’s mighty major river ran lustily forth from its wide source pool. A last look at the dimpling water, as dark as copper, and we turned our backs to the arriving rain and headed for the car.

WAY TO GO

MAP: OS of Ireland 1:50,000 Discovery Sheet 26; map/instructions downloadable at discoverireland.ie/walking or irishtrails.ie.

TRAVEL: (2 cars): N16 or A4 to Blacklion; N16 towards Manorhamilton. On outskirts of Blacklion, left on R206. Follow ‘Glangevlin, Cavan, Shannon Pot’ for 5 miles (8 km); then left (brown ‘Shannon Pot’ sign) to Shannon Pot car park. Leave 1 car; return in the other to Blacklion.

WALK DIRECTIONS: At crossroads, turn up beside Enzo’s (‘Cavan Way’/CW). In 3 miles (1 km), left (CW yellow arrow and ‘walking man’ symbol) along lane past Ture, up to Corratirrim. Pass house; bear right up open ground with wall on right (CW). Nearing forestry, right over stile (CW); right along forest edge; left over stile (CW). Woodland path to forest road; left (CW, ‘Burren’). Follow CW past ‘Lost Valley’ fingerpost; past Boulder Grave and Ghobáin’s Mound (signed left and right – both worth a detour); to Calf House dolmen on right. Left here (CW) on grassy track, following Giant’s Leap Wedge Tomb/CW, to pass Wedge Tomb, Druid’s Chair, Ring Marked Stone (all signed). CW turns left over wall; steeply down slope (CWs). Just before white house, bear right (CW) to road at Manragh. Follow road to Legeelan crossroads (sweathouse on right, 100 m up lane opposite). Left at Legeelan crossroads; in 300m pass church; ignore ‘Garvagh Lake’ to left and keep ahead for 1 mile, passing Mullaghboy turn on left. Just after rough lane (‘West Cavan Gun Club’ notice) on left, right over stile. Follow CWs over boggy meadows, through forestry and on to car park. Left to visit Shannon Pot; return to car park.

LENGTH: 8½ miles with detours/14 km: allow 4–5 hours

GRADE: Moderate

CONDITIONS: Parts are very boggy; waterproof footwear advised.

DON’T MISS:
Wonderful flowery uplands above Corratirrim
Fragrant and greater butterfly orchids (June onwards) between Mullaghboy and Shannon Pot
Megalithic tombs in the Burren Forest.

REFRESHMENTS: Macnean’s of Blacklion (dinner Wed-Sun, lunch Sun). Try their ballotine of rabbit or braised shoulder of venison – tiptop Irish ingredients and cooking (071-985-3022; nevenmaguire.com).

BEST PICNIC SPOT: On the slopes above either Corratirrim or Manragh

ACCOMMODATION: Clancy’s of Glenfarne (071-985-3116; clancysofglenfarne.com) – extremely welcoming and helpful. 2 nights dble B&B, dinner, packed lunches, 119 euros p.p.

GUIDED WALKS: Oliver Usher (086-170-6767, oliverusher@ireland.com)

WALKING in IRELAND: Walking tour operators, local walks including Discover Ireland’s National Loop Walks, walking festivals throughout Ireland: www.discoverireland.ie/walking.

CAVAN TIC: 049-433-1942; cavantourism.com

 Posted by at 2:44 pm
Aug 152009
 

Irish Independent – WALK OF THE WEEK – Christopher Somerville

15 August 2009

No. 23. Kilmacoliver Hill, Co. Kilkenny

The spring water came gushing out of the roadside wall on the outskirts of Tullaghought, falling with a quiet splash and rustle across Jane’s fingers and into its basin. Over the road stood an information board bright with images of butterflies with seductive names – holly blue, small copper, painted lady, red admiral. The pond beyond was skinned with green, its scrub willows loud with wrens and chaffinches. ‘Like the lake,’ said the noticeboard’s quotation from Henry Thoreau’s Walden, ‘my serenity is rippled but not ruffled.’ A very apposite notion on a breezy, sunny day down in the south-west marches of Kilkenny.

Eoin Hogan, the county walks officer, had joined us for this morning’s ramble, and we made good time along the shaded lanes at the foot of Kilmacoliver Hill. The minuscule black pimples of the ancient stone circle at the summit of the hill pricked the skyline and called us on past buttercup meadows in which the cropping sheep were almost swallowed up in rippling shallows of gold. Two skittish colts were being unloaded from a horsebox in a farm gateway, their hooves clattering as they tittuped backwards down the ramp.

A long mile up the mountain at the ruined farm of Bregaun, all was still. Maidenhair ferns sprang from the naked gables, moss lay thick in the window frames, and sinews of ivy were slowly and silently easing the damp old walls into their component stones. ‘Imagine the trek you’d have down to so-called civilization,’ mused Eoin as we stood in the tree shadows, ‘and the hunger you’d have to know what was going on down there in the world.’

The path led up through open fields pungent with pineapple-scented mayweed. At the summit of Kilmacoliver Hill a great circle of rough and jagged rocks enclosed the recumbent, weather-eroded stones of a megalithic tomb – a monument simple, massive and solemn. The flatlands of Kilkenny stretched north for maybe forty miles, the humpy spine of the Comeragh mountains rose in Waterford far to the south-west, and nearer at hand the Hill of the Women, Sliabhnamon, curled gracefully in a recumbent female shape of slate blue and pearly grey. We lingered long over this breathtaking prospect, perching on the sun-warmed stones and basking in the warmth of midday.

Descending the northern slopes of Kilmacoliver Hill, the chat turned to country walking in Ireland and the current nationwide efforts to get it properly off the ground. As always when one’s talking of the tangled and painstaking business of setting up viable, legally sited walks in rural Ireland, lots of pies feel the presence of a good many fingers. The European Union’s LEADER programme funds rural development schemes across Europe, provided that they closely involve local people; and, as Eoin told us, Trail Kilkenny couldn’t have been established without the support of County Kilkenny LEADER partnership, which also financed the setting up of the Kilmacoliver walk. The same story can be told in many different counties across Ireland, the sort of behind-the-scenes activity that you never even think about when you’re walking the Sligo shore, say, or crossing the hills of Fermanagh.

Down on the road once more, we stopped to admire a young horse being galloped round a track, hooves pounding, sweat streamers curling off and flying out behind, the red-capped jockey intent in his crouch. Beyond lay a little GAA pitch where lush grasses outnumbered players by ten million to nothing. A young girl was carefully painting the wheezy old gate for her daddy. Horse, jockey and girl went about their business in the sunshine, presided over by the green head of Kilmacoliver Hill, at whose crown the old stones stood proud, black and tiny against the blue sky.

WAY TO GO

MAP: OS of Ireland 1:50,000 Discovery 75; downloadable map/instructions (highly recommended) at www.discoverireland.ie/walking.

TRAVEL: Rail (www.irishrail.ie) to Carrick-on-Suir (5 miles)
Bus (1890-42-41-41; www.ringalink.ie) to Tullaghought
Road: From Kilkenny, N76 to Callan; R698, 697 to Tullaghought (signed). Right at village crossroads; trailhead car park in 300 m on right (Loop Walk noticeboard).

WALK DIRECTIONS: Continue along road from car park, passing shrine to Our Lady, then side road on right. In 150 m, opposite house with white railings, left up lane (purple arrow waymark/PA). Follow lane round right bend by farm. Track surface turns from tarmac to dirt; continue for nearly 2 km, to go over step stile by gate and pass ruined farmhouse of Bregaun. In 50 m, muddy track swings right into field; but keep ahead here up walled lane (PA) for 70 m, then right up steps to follow PAs through open fields. Keep hedge on left and follow PAs up to triangulation pillar and stone circle on summit of Kilmacoliver Hill. Turn right off hill, following fence line to bottom. Right past gate (don’t go over!); in 100 m, left over step stile; follow path through woods to road. Left to house with white railings; right to car park.

LENGTH: 4 miles: allow 2 hours

GRADE: Moderate

DON’T MISS … !
• Spring and ponds at start of walk
• Stone circle and tomb on Kilmacoliver Hill
• View from the hill

REFRESHMENTS: Take a picnic

INFORMATION: Walking tour operators, local walks including Discover Ireland’s National Loop Walks, walking festivals throughout Ireland: www.discoverireland.ie/walking; www.coillteoutdoors.ie

NATIONAL TRAILS DAY 2009: Sunday 4 October (www.nationaltrailsday.ie)

INFORMATION:
Walks and activities: www.trailkilkenny.ie
Kilkenny Tourist Office: 056-775-1500; www.discoverireland.ie/southeast

 Posted by at 1:57 pm