Killarney Self Catering

The Priory Cottages

Tim & Bernadette O'Donoghue
Muckross Road
Killarney
Co. Kerry

+353 (0)64 662 6896

priorytim@gmail.com

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Amy Cogswell, Skaneateles, NY

Cozy and comfortable, our family enjoyed their stay at The Priory.  The highlight of the trip was the hike up Torc Mountain.  Our 7 & 9 year old boys love it - what a view!  The O'Donoghue's made us feel welcome.  We are already planning our next vacation over.

  • The Priory Killarney Holiday Homes
  • The Priory Killarney Holiday Homes
  • The Priory Killarney Holiday Homes
  • The Priory Killarney Holiday Homes
  • The Priory Killarney Holiday Homes
  • The Priory Killarney Holiday Homes
  • The Priory Killarney Holiday Homes
  • The Priory Killarney Holiday Homes
  • The Priory Killarney Holiday Homes
  • The Priory Killarney Holiday Homes
  • The Priory Killarney Holiday Homes
  • The Priory Killarney Holiday Homes
  • The Priory Killarney Holiday Homes
VERY DIFFICULT (To be undertaken by experienced walkers only)

Corrán Tuathail

Corrán Tuathail is Ireland's highest and most rugged mountain, situated amidst the MacGillycuddy Reeks range just 10km from Killarney. This is a very difficult hike over very tough terrain for competent hill walkers only, suitably attired. Five to six hours walking and scrambling with one thousand metres of ascent and covering twelve kilometres over rough and rocky mountain slopes and exposed ridges...no trails.

Bennaunmore - Cappagh

Approaching off either the N22 (Cork-Killarney road) or the N71 (Killarney-Kenmare road) take the road which travels along the east side of Lough Guitane, through gates.  It might be as well to park your car at the open ground near the end of the lake (034 839).  Disregard the concrete/tubular steel pipe bridge (leading to a burned-out dwelling, 1996) and begin beside the wire fence on the left to find a track leading to a disused house (zinc roof, 1996).  Through a gate, follow the course of the stream coming down from the outcrop west of Crohane which is the 659m/2,162ft (no height on OS map) peak to the left ahead.  The ground on this part of the walk is covered with orange-tinted sundew.  There is a path of sorts, at first to the left of the stream, later on the right.  In places, it seems to be built up and this may be the line of the old path to Kilgarvan.  In fact, as you round the higher ground on the right, you arrive at a boggy plateau which has a number of stone uprights which might also have marked the route.

The first of the two secluded lakes snuggled in this long narrow valley 300m/1,000ft above sea level is now ahead of you.  This is Lough Nabroda, sitting below the volcanic columns of Bennaunmore, claimed to be the Giant's Causeway of Kerry.  The north-flowing stream out of the lake runs underground through scree fall.  Following the path on the east side of the lake and across the boggy saddle between, you arrive on the west side of the second lake - Crohane Lake (sometimes known as Loch Carraigh a'Beithe, Lake of the Rock of the Birch Tree).  There could be no greater contrast than the setting of these lakes - a microcosm of mountain scenery.  Where the first lake sits below steep scree-covered with purple heather, at least in summer.  The path is somewhat clearer here and by its side you will see a flat stone carved with names and initials.  J.C.Coleman in his classic The Mountains of Killarney (1948) refers to a carved ice-smoothed rock beside the obvious big crag but I could not find it.  My visit was in high summer and features may be clearer when the undergrowth is not as thick.

As the southern end of Crohane Lake, there are fine views south and southeast to Morely's Bridge and into the Roughty River valley.  In Walk 1, we had been looking at the valley from the other end and we are now likely to be on the earlier part of the pilgrims' route on their way to honour St Finbarr on Gougane Sunday.  It is remarkable what great travellers our ancestors were before the motorcar.  In the Gougane Barra area, I was told that groups still make the annual trip (a longer one now by car) each August to the three-day Puck Fair in Killorglin, lying to the west of us and at least 70km / 40 miles even by this route from Gougane.  They are continuing the tradition of their predecessors who must have travelled here on foot or on horseback or perhaps droving animals.>

Travel right now to draise up to the 300m / 1,000ft level and arrive over the wooded Cappagh Valley.  Ceapach can mean a decayed or denuded wood - appropriate in this case.  There is a nonsense phrase in use in Killarney, apparently connected with the place.  When asked where he is going, rather than give a direct answer, a person may respond 'To Cappagh for a load of hake'.  From where you stand, there is the impression of a steep drop to the valley floor below, which however is only 200m / 700ft or so under you - the impression is due to the narrowness of the valley.  Nevertheless, it is best to avoid the steep descent by travelling north along the ridge to the saddle before the peak of Bennaunmore (454m / 1,490ft) a variant of Beann Mor, Big Peak.  From there, you can with a little care descend the less steep slope to meet the edge of what has been termed a petrified forest.  This description would be most merited in winter when the bare trees create a phantom scene.

There is now a pleasant evening stroll out of the glen between the towering slabs of Bennaunmore and the Cappagh River.  This valley is lower than that to the east and much richer in vegetation.  There are more trees - even if they are small - than we usually associate with hill walks in Ireland.  After the narrower rockier gorge, you meet at the north end of Bennaunmore a 'scar' of a road which leads to the red-roofed house which was your starting point.

Black Valley - Glencar

This walk takes us through the lonely and rugged glens of mid-Kerry. One mountain pass, on the Lack Road, is at the 365m/1,200ft level and you should be prepared for this. You are following the way-mark of the Kerry Way for the whole of this walk.

The first Glen is the Black Valley / Cummeenduff (Com Ui Dhuibh, Black Corrie) and as you leave the hostel (865 827) you get your first glimpse of its lake-studded floor. The valley rises northwest towards Lough Googh holds some of the remains of the American Douglas Dakota C47 which hit the ridge in December 1943.

Disregard the unsurfaced road rising uphill to the north, marked unsuitable for traffic - this winds its way through the dramatic ice-carved Gap of Dunloe and could be used as an escape route to Killarney. Continue for some time on the road marked cul-de-sac until you reach a Y-junction and go straight on, guided by the first of three Forest Walk finger posts. Near the junction stood a Mass Rock, used for secret worship in Penal times. According to the local legend, the cliffs facing east by the waterfall on your right mark the burial place of the last Viking invader and it is said that a gold hoard lies with him. As the road rises north, swing left at the finger post, zig-zag at the houses in Cloghernoosh (Clochar Nuis, Rock of the New Milk) and follow the third finger post through a gate. A stony and generally wet path zig-zags by the abandoned houses and continues above stone walls to lead directly to a stile to the left of the gateway into the wood. The path, still stony and wet, winds pleasantly through the wood, which contains enough deciduous trees and holly to mask its commercial intent. As you emerge, enjoy the view Southwest, beyond Cummeenduff Lough, of the waterfall on the Upper Commeen River. Follow the path (keep right) to the grove of pine trees sheltering the next farmhouse. Please close the gate on the far side when through. A short stretch of surfaced road again leading to Curraghmore (Currach Mor, Big Marsh).

Pass to the left of the last two houses in the valley, now abandoned as are so many others. Follow the path (above stone-walled fields and below the wire fence) and continue west to cross the river from Curraghmore Lake by the footbridge. Now on the Bridle (Bridia?) Path, Ireland¹s highest peak Carrauntuohil (Corran Tuathail, Inverted Sickle)l, 1,039m/3,414ft, lies directly north. The dangers of the ground are obvious and no one should venture to higher levels unless experienced and fully equipped. The cardinal sin is to travel on one¹s own. As you rise up the path marked by stone cairns, watch for the first of a line of Way maker posts leading right on the approach to the crest of the saddle. The standing stone on the summit is one of an alignment but while it might seem to be a maker for travellers, it would deceitfully lead you through rough grounds and into the fields of the Bridia Valley ahead. The name (Na Braighde, The Prisioners) probably rises from the enclosing rock faces. One of the rocks in the saddle has an obvious cluster of St. Patrick¹s cabbage. Saxifraga spathularis, another of the rare Lusitanian flora. Its spatula leaves and pink flower point to its relationship with the domesticated London pride. Do please resist the temptation to pick.

Keeping right with the marked path, the decent through rock benches lends relative justification to the name of the town land on which the next house sits - Cappeenthlarig (Ceapaigh an Chlaraigh - Plot of Level Ground).

Passing through the farmyard should remind you that you are passing, by courtesy of farmers, through their work- and living place. Please respect all crops, close all gates carefully, avoid provocation of working dogs and in case someone is resting, be as quiet as you can. 2.5km / 1.5miles from the house leave the surfaced road at Maghanlawaun (Macha an Leamhain, Milking Place of the Elms), the entrance to the right to the Lack Road being beside a water spout. Despite its name, the trees most seen are the orange berried rowan / mountain ash and the birch as well as large bushes of fuchsia with its red bells. I spent some of my school holidays here. One memory is of been able Œto see the weather approach¹. The orientation of the valley is such that rain borne by the prevailing south-westerlies could be seen at its far end long before reaching here and if one was engaged in haymaking, by hand of course, there was time to take action.

The surfaced road here is an escape route to Glencar or to accommodation, particularly if mist keeps you off the pass ahead. The Lack Road (Leac, Flagstone) was used within living memory for droving cattle to the fairs in Killorglin to the North, a journey starting at midnight to ensure arrival at the fair at 7.30am. Before that, the road was used to transport firkins of butter to market by pack-horse. While it is much clearer later on, the road has been obsorbed into fields initially and you must follow the markers and stiles to gain open hillside where the Lake Road intelligently switchbacks to save energy. As you ascend, you have a view Southwest of coomb-enclosed Cloon Lake. An island on the lake is reputed to be the burial place of William Francis Butler who tells in his book Red Cloud of his childhood in Glencar and his later life in America where he joined a Native American tribe. Cloon also has and Early Christian site.

At the stile at the summit of the pass, the view Northeast is of the 1,001m / 3,284ft Caher (Cathair, Stone Fort - perhaps of the Fianna). Beneath you to the north is the amphitheatre of Derrynafeana (Doire na Feinne, Oakwood of the Fianna) and Lough Acoose (Loch an Chuais, Lake of the Recess). With a view further north to Killorglin and Dingle Bay, the vista lends credence to tales of day long deer-hunts by the Fianna, Ireland¹s legendary army aided by giant wolfhounds. Keeping left to avoid steeper ground on the right, descend the zig-zag road to join a path which starts where the Cummeenacappul Stream (Coimin na gCapall, Small Coomb of the Horses), flowing from the slopes of Caher, joins the Gearhanagour Stream (Gaortha na nGabhar, Woodland of the Goata). The path leads to farmhouses, the first of which are owned by the Taylor family a name we shall meet again.

Just past the second set of buildings, watch for the path left commencing in fields and taking you across bogland west of Lough Beg (Loch, Beag, Small Lake) and over a stepping-stone / rock bridge west of Lough Acoose. As i write, news is coming in of identification by archaeologists of a pre-bog system (walls, huts, enclosures and bog track-way) between the two lakes.

Before turning left on the surfaced Killorglin - Glencar road, take time to enjoy the view east to the magnificent corrie of Coomloughra, ahaped by the ridge connecting Ireland¹s highest peaks, Beenkeragh, Carrauntuohill and Caher.

The road left descends beside the Gortmaloon  Wood (Gort Ma Luan, Field of the Plain of Lambs), through which tumbles the Caraghbeg River. At the Y-Junction, bear left to walk 1.6km / 1mile to the Climbers Inn. The hostelry, which is also the post office, is run by Sean Walsh, an experienced climber. Nearby is Glencar House, formally Lord Lansdowne¹s shooting lodge. One of its renowned guests was Fr. John Sullivan, and it is said that a religious reading overheard at a French window, still preserved, led to his conversion to Catholicism. Assuming that you have prebooked accommodation, Glencar is an idea place for an over night stay.