Why North Tipperary: The Baronies

Map of the baronies of County Tipperary in Ire...

Map of the baronies of County Tipperary in Ireland; taken from Atlas and cyclopedia of Ireland, p.267 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As has being mentioned many a time on this Blogsite, North Tipperary is a very historic region of the island of Ireland. As well there being the North and South Riding’s, there are also the baronies of either part of the county, but I’m gonna focus on the baronies of North Tipperary.Over all there are six baronies in North Tipperary, but what are baronies? Well a barony is a subdivision of a county, with North Tipperary being subdivided in the baronies of Eliogarty, Ikerrin, Ormond Upper, Ormond Lower, Owney and Arra, plus Slieverdagh, after the Norman conquest. So lets take a closer look at each of these baronies (as is described in Wilkepedia):

Surviving west gable of the 12th-century Roman...

Surviving west gable of the 12th-century Romanesque church in Roscrea. This church was in use until 1812 when most of it was demolished with the exception of this gable. It serves now as gate to the Church of Ireland parish church. (See entry 1843 in Jean Farrelly and Caimin O’Brien: Archaeological Inventory of County Tipperary: Vol. I – North Tipperary, ISBN 0-7557-1264-1.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eliogarty

The chief town is Thurles and the baroney lies between Ikerrin to the north, where the chief town is Roscrea, Kilnamanagh Upper to the west, where the chief town is Borrisoleigh and Middle Third to the south, where the chief town is Cashel. The ancient territory of Éile obtained its name from pre-historic inhabitants called the Eli, about whom little is known beyond what may be gathered from legends and traditions. The extent of Éile varied throughout the centuries with the rise and fall of the tribes in occupation. Before the 5th century A.D. the details of its history which can be gleaned from surviving records and literature are exceedingly meagre, obscure and confusing. During this century however Éile appears to have reached its greatest extent, stretching from Croghan Bri Eli (Croghan Hill in Offaly) to just south of Cashel (in Corca Eathrach Eli). The southern part of this territory embraced the baronies of Eliogarty and Ikerrin, a great part of the modern barony of Middlethird, the territory of Ileagh, and portion of the present barony of Kilnamanagh Upper.

English: Coat of arms of County Tipperary, Ireland

English: Coat of arms of County Tipperary, Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By the 8th century, the territory of Ancient Éile had broken up into a number of petty kingdoms: the O’Carrolls occupied the northern portion, the O’Spillanes held Ileagh (Ileigh) while the Eóganacht Chaisil had annexed Middlethird. The O’Fogartys held what is now the barony of Eliogarty, while to the north of them, at least some time later, were O’Meaghers of Ikerrin. The River Nore, at its position between Roscrea and Templemore, although just a small stream at this point, is usually taken as the southern limit of Ely O’Carroll territory.

Ikerrin

The cheif town of Ikerrin is Roscrea, while the baroney lies between Eliogarty to the south and Ormond Upper to the west, whose chief town is Toomevara. As a county ‘peninsula’, it is surrounded on three sides by counties Offaly and Laois.

When County Tipperary was split into North and South Ridings in 1836, Ikerrin was allocated to the north riding. However, the neighbouring barony of Kilnamanagh was split into Upper and Lower half-baronies, being allocated to the north and south ridings respectively.

Tipperary shown in Herman Moll's New Map of Ir...

Tipperary shown in Herman Moll’s New Map of Ireland (1714) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ormond Upper

The chief townland of Ormond Upper is Toomevara and this barony lies between Ormond Lower to the north, where the chief town is Nenagh, Kilnamanagh Upper to the south, Owney and Arra to the west, where the chief town is Newport and also Ikerrin to the east. The O’Meara’s had an entensive territory in the barony; the name of their chief residence, Tuaim-ui-Meara, is still retained in the village of Toomavara.

Gramscis cousin 11:14, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Gramscis cousin 11:14, 12 July 2006 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ormond Lower

The chief town of Ormond Lower is Nenagh and this barony lies between Ormond Upper to the south-east and Owney and Arra to the south-west. As a ‘peninsula’, it is surrounded on three sides by counties Galway and Offaly.

Owney and Arra

This barony, whose chief town is Newport, lies between Ormond Lower to the north, Kilnamanagh Upper to the south and Ormond Upper to the east. To the west lies the River Shannon, which separates it from County Limerick.

Kilnamanagh Upper

The chief town of Kilnamanagh Upper is Borrisoleigh, while the baroney lies between Ormond Upper, Kilnamanagh Lower of South Tipperary, whose chief town is Dundrum and Eliogarty to the east.

Nave, looking east.

Nave, looking east. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And so they are the baronies of North Tipperary. Filled with mountains of ancient history, of legendary heroes, betrayal, murder, beautiful scenery, mystic trails; this and much, much more, but you won’t know for sure until you pay us a visit and taste North Tipperary for yourself. See you soon and bye for now!

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

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Why North Tipperary: A History Lesson

Brian Boru, King of Munster

Brian Boru, King of Munster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a short than usual post this week, I’m going to have a quick look at how the County of Tipperary has got it’s name and furthermore maybe understand why there is a distinction between North Tipperary and South Tipperary. Hey, it must be the Celts in us to always be on the lookout for a bit of rivalry.

Anyway, my research tells me that before the devastating Norman invasion (from which most of our surnames are derived from, although history does state that the Normans became more Irish than the Irish themselves), well anyway, before the Norman invasion, the county of Tipperary was even divided back then, into the old North Munster kingdom of Thomond (includes parts of Clare and North Limerick), and the South Munster kingdom of Desmond. Now there were two clans that dominated this part of the country and these were the O’Brien’s and the McCarthy’s and it seems that Tipperary was where their endless battles would take place. This was, of course, until McCarthy’s were kicked out into Cork and so the McCarthy name became connected to Cork. The O’Brien’s though ruled supreme, with their most famous monarch being Brian Boru, the founder of the O’Brien dynasty and the High King of Ireland (Reigned: 1002 – 1014, , 1,000 year anniversary early next year, sure now there’s another reason to visit North Tipperary: site of original dominions). Now every Irish schoolboy and schoolgirl has heard of Brian Boru, but even if you haven’t, why not pay Brian Boru’s church, or his birthplace in Kincora, a visit at the border of North Tipperary and Clare at Ballina/Killaloe.

The Rock of Cashel.

The Rock of Cashel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Looking moreso at this regal history of Tipperary, the Rock of Cashel, which is situated in the centre of the county, was the seat of the kings of Munster, but then the Normans arrived and decided to stay for a bit. On their arrival, the south of the county was granted to Philip de Worchester, while most of the north of the county was granted to Theobald Walter, whose family became the Butler’s or appointed servants to the King and so the Butler name was theirs. The Butlers were originally strong in the Nenagh area and indeed Nenagh castle was built by them. They became the Earls of Ormond and were a very strong voice in Irish affairs for three centuries.

Gramscis cousin 11:14, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Gramscis cousin 11:14, 12 July 2006 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The county of Tipperary was created and named after the small town of the same name in 1328 and some names that are connected to this great Irish county are the surnames Ryan, Maher, O’Meara, Gleeson, Hogan, O’Dwyer, Quirke, Macken, Moloney, Tracey, Kelly and of course O’Brien and O’Kennedy. In fact a good note of that last one, because another strong clan on the North Tipperary region and in fact the Nenagh area were the O’Kennedy’s, who would have been the ancestors of the late President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy. And that’s not all when it comes to US presidents, there is also Ronald Reagan, who visited his ancestral home of Ballyporeen as President and also the existing President Barak, who of course hails from Moneygal, which is situated on the border of North Tipperary and Offaly and is just 13 miles from Nenagh town.

Now how about those for a number of reasons to visit North Tipperary. ‘The Well of Ara’, or Tipperary as we all know it today, is so packed with history, and we’re connected to our fair share of leaders through the ages, that all you need to do is take a deep breath and  taste it in the air. See y’all next time!

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Why North Tipperary: Paranormal Legends 2

Leap Castle

Welcome back, here’s the second part of the Nenagh Silent Film Festival’s post which looks at North Tipperary Paranormal Legends. This will conclude this post and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together:

Monahinsha AbbeyMonahinsha Abbey

Local Legends
Location: Monahinsha, Roscrea
Timeline: Unknown

Now here’s a strange one. Near Roscrea there’s a ruined church called Inishnameo, which may also be called Monahinsha. The story behind this goes that up to a couple of hundred years ago there was a fine lake at this spot with two islands in the centre of the lake. The larger of these lakes hosted a monastery which was founded by St. Hilary, while the smaller of these islands hosted a smaller chapel, but both islands also had their own legends. For the larger of the islands it was said that no female of any species could set foot on the island and survive, and legend has it that this story was tested with several female dogs and cats, while the the bushes and trees of the island was said to be filled with male birds, but no females who avoided the island as if the plague resided there. With regards the smaller of the islands, it was said that a person couldn’t die on this island no matter how sick they were and if a person on the island had an infliction, they would just waste away until they begged to face death by being taken from the island rather than suffering anymore. The lake around these islands was drained by the landowner about two hundred years ago and he barred all pilgrims from the area henceforth. No-one knows if the curse of these islands still persist to this day, so would you like to visit and find out for yourself?

Phantom CoachPhantom Coach

Night Coach
Location: Timoney Park, Roscrea
Timeline: Unknown

In Timoney Park, Roscrea, there is a legend that a phantom coach is often seen carrying the shades of the Parker-Hutchinson family towards their home, so watch out if you see a coach approaching in this area on late dark evenings, because you’d never know whats inside.

Sopwell CastleSopwell Hall

Haunted Screams
Location: Sopwell Castle
Timeline: Unknown

After Cromwell and his hordes  rampaged throughout the land, he rewarded some of his military leaders with land and castles and here at Sopwell Castle he rewarded the seat to one Thomas Sadleir. Sadleir changed the name of the premises to Sopwell Hall, which is a name that persists to this day. No matter what the name of the premises though, there is still a haunted scream which has being heard regularly within its walls. These screams are followed by the sound of a body being dragged down a staircase, which is thought to be the result of a body being dropped down the stairs. This manifestation is said to be a regular occurance as if is history is repeated again and again of a spirit which refuses to rest. The question is why and what horrible past is hidden within these historical walls?

View from the Devils Bit 2

View from the Devils Bit 2 (Photo credit: Donncha Carroll)

Devil’s Bit
Location: Templemore
Timeline: Since Ancient Times

Legend has it that the devil was being chased from Ireland by St. Patrick, but the devil came across a mountain near where Templemore is now located. For some reason or another the devil then decided to take a chunk from this mountain and hurled it in the air and the same lump of rock finished up where the Rock of Cashel is now situated, while the mountain range has forever since, is seen with a very noticeable large chunk missing out of it. Another version of this story says that after biting into the mountain his tooth fell out and formed the Rock. Of course, the legend has a few flaws, especially, well, its being around a bit longer than when St Patrick was around converting the locals, but there’s another version of this story. It has being well written of how the forming Christian church manipulated ancient legends to suit their own needs. An ancient legend states that an Irish hero was chasing a creature call the Cratnoch from the island. This creature gave birth to a number of other-worldly creatures including the Devil, but had met its match in Fionn Mac Cumhaill (whay-hay, Up our side). This thing was being chased out of Ireland until it came to the mountains near Templemore. Trying to slow down Fionn, it immediately bit a chunk out of the mountain and threw it at the Irish warrior, but this landed where the Rock now lays, while Fionn eventually caught up with the creature in Lough Derg, and supposedly defeated it there. So whatever you believe, or whether you don’t believe at all, the haunting, wonderful scene from the Devil’s Bit is very much well worth a visit.

Victorian PolicemanA Victorian Policeman

Haunting Manifestation
Location: Timoney, Roscrea.
Timeline: Since 1860

There is a story from the townland of Timoney, which is situated near Roscrea, of a local policeman back in the 1860’s named Dyer, who once swore to protect the area he patrolled ‘dead or alive’. After his death in the 1860’s, locals reported his ghost carrying out his promise. Is he still around this spot patrolling the townland from any wrong-doers, well why not visit and see for yourself?

Leap Castle

Leap Castle (Photo credit: AlisonKillilea)

A Collection of Hauntings

Location: Leap Castle.
Timeline: Since 1250

Leap CastleAnd so I’ve left the best till last. Just beyond the North Tipperary border into Offaly there lies the haunting legend of Leap Castle, which is known as the most haunted place in Ireland. Widely considered Ireland’s most haunted castle, Leap Castle in Offaly could teach Tim Burton a thing or two about the macabre. Centuries of odd accidents, strange occurrences and ill-repute can all be traced back to one family: The O’Carrolls.

The O’Carroll clan built Leap Castle around 1250 as their family stronghold and it passed from generation to generation without incident. Until there came a time when two ambitious brothers challenged each other for dominion over the castle and grounds. One brother was a priest, the other a successful military man. The two had never seen eye-to-eye.

Leap castleThe priest was giving mass in the chapel attached to the castle one evening when his brother burst through the doors and plunged his sword into his heart. Brother killing brother is an unspeakable sin, a desecration of the natural order. Since that day a relentless gloom clings to the castle. A mysterious ‘entity’ has ever since stalked the lower levels and dungeons of Leap.

During the 1900s workmen restoring the chapel discovered a hidden wall, concealing a room with a gruesome purpose. Instead of a floor, there was an eight-foot drop onto a wicked spike. The workmen removed layer after layer of human skeletons that were piled atop each other.

These are just a portion of the haunting stories linked to Leap Castle, and to this day locals dare not enter the castle grounds, but you can if you are daring enough… If a strange and ghastly smell should trespass upon your senses, run as fast as you can or you may be another ghastly page in Leap’s history. Hope you enjoyed the second part of a look at North Tipperary’s paranormal legends and I look forward to putting another one together for you next week. Boo for now!

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Why North Tipperary: Paranormal Legends

Ghostly Scene

Greetings from the Nenagh Silent Film Festival website, Halloween and things that might go bump in the night is drawing closer, so I’m going to take a look at some of the local paranormal legends Here is the first part of two blogs which look at the haunting paranormal legends of North Tipperary. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I have had in putting it together (Ps: I’ll post the second part next week):

graveyard

graveyard (Photo credit: ElitePete)

Friendly Ghost?
Location: Ballingarry, Thurles
Timeline: 1999

Now first up is a recent story regarding two young brothers, who were aged eight and ten years old. As they were passing an old church graveyard in Ballingarry, Thurles, they noticed a man who was peering over the wall towards them. They approached the figure and they noticed that he was wearing a white shirt with dark glasses and that he had curly hair. The two boys also reported that the man looked like he had been crying and he had ignored the children when they tried to speak to him. The two brothers later related this story to their father, who then pointed out that the wall the individual was peering out over was in fact eight feet tall, but on hearing the description of the figure, the father recognised the individual as being a friend of his who had passed away four years previously.

Tipperary Sunrise

Tipperary Sunrise (Photo credit: Insight Imaging: John A Ryan Photography)

Unknown Entity
Location: Cappawhite
Timeline: 1910

During the early part of the last century, deep in the Silvermines Mountains, near the village of Cappagh White, or Cappawhite, along a road that was approaching Ironmiills Bridge, a man by the name of Thomas Fahey stated that a strange black blob landed on the handlebars of his bicycle. On reporting the incident, he went onto say that the strange object proceeded to slow the bicycle down considerably, before it eventually released the handle-bars and moved off in another direction and disappearing along another path.

English: Annagh Castle Ruined Castle in Annagh...

English: Annagh Castle Ruined Castle in Annagh townland on the shore of Lough Derg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Haunting Manifestation
Location: Annagh Castle
Timeline: 1600’s – Present

Of course there are several ghostly legends of spirits that have haunted North Tipperary for hundreds of years. One such spirit is supposedly that of Edmond Roe O’Kennedy. Back in the Sixteenth century, poor auld Edmond was murdered by his enemies, however, Edmond died on that fateful night without telling anyone where he had concealed his hidden treasure. Since his murder, it is said that Edmond’s shade has appeared to visitors at the site of Annagh Castle on the shores of beautiful Lough Derg, with blood flowing from a large slit that was left in his throat.

Black ShuckBlack Shuck

Shuck
Location: Castle Biggs, Terryglass
Timeline: Unknown

Not to be outdone, Castle Biggs, which is situated further north along the banks of Lough Derg near Terryglass, is also supposed to be haunted, but this time by a Shuck, which is a type of a demonic dog. The legend on this this one is that this abomination with cloven hooves protects a hidden hoard of treasure.  So for all you treasure hunters out there, two ancient castles, both along the shores of Lough Derg, both with long lost treasures of supposedly immense wealth, but both also protected by other-worldly beings.

Lough DergLough Derg

Phantasmal Vessel & the Lough Derg Monster
Location: Lough Derg
Timeline: Unknown

To finish off this week’s Why North Tipperary post, I’m going to stay with Lough Derg and tell you about two other ghostly happenings that have being witnessed by a number of terrified individuals. First up is a phantasmal vessel that is regularly witnessed traveling north upon the lake. It appears to travel calmly, but with a gentle, haunting singing emanating from from the mystic decks of the vessel itself.

Ghostly ShipGhostly Ship

Next up dates back to ancient Ireland, when the warrior Finn McCool fought and killed a huge monster beast that was living in the lake; legend says that two hundred men climbed out of the beasts belly once Finn sliced it open. Ancient legends aside, some locals do state that a smaller monster still lives in the lake, which is not too dis-similar to the more famous Lough Ness Monster.

Old irish GraveyardOld Irish Graveyard

And that’s all I have to say for this week, but I promise I’ll be back next week with more haunting stories to entice you to visit North Tipperary at some stage. Till then, I hope you all are getting ready for a Happy and Haunting Halloween, which is of course after all, like St Patrick’s Day, originally an Irish celebration. Watch out for the next post on paranormal legends of North Tipperary when I will look at a local legend based near Roscrea, a night coach sighted at Timoney Park, Roscrea, haunted screams hears at Sopwell Castle, the legend of the Devil’s Bit, a Manifestation – also at Timoney, near Roscrea, and a Collection of Hauntings at Leap Castle. 😀

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Why North Tipperary: Golf Clubs

In the small district of North Tipperary there are several golf clubs situated in some wonderful scenery. This week I’m going to take a look at a few of them, which might wet your appetite to visit or travel around North Tipperary. There’s more to see in North Tipp than you may have guessed, as the saying of Nenagh town goes: It’s a Strangers Paradise!’.

Nenagh Golf Course SceneNenagh Golf Course Scenery

Nenagh Golf ClubNenagh Golf Club

Situated along the outskirts of Nenagh town, the local golf club, which was originally built in 1929 with its architects being Alister McKenzie, Eddie Hackett and Patrick Merrigan, however, it is a public and modern facility that is open all year round. It has a price range of €15 to €25, while it’s type is described as ‘Parkland’ ;other facilities include a bar, restaurant, practice facilities and a club-house. A very popular golf club, it even has a positive review on it’s profile on the WorldGolf website from Tiger Woods – this was a five-star review and it was posted on the morning on April 18th, 2012 at 9.40am. More information can be found at www.nenaghgolfclub.com.

Roscrea Golf ClubRoscrea Golf Club Scenery

Roscrea Golf Club LogoRoscrea Golf Club

Roscrea Golf Club is situated just outside Roscrea on the Dublin road and this very old golf club is open to the public, while it has a style that is described as ‘Parkland’. The architect of this golf club was one Arthur Spring and the golf club was built in 1892. The price range for week days and weekends is the same ranging from €20 to €45, while it’s other facilities include a club-house, practice facilities and changing rooms. More information can be sourced at www.roscreagolfclub.ie

Thurles Golf CLubThurles Golf Club Scenery

Thurles Golf ClubThurles Golf Club

Thurles Golf Club, which was originally built in 1909 and is situated on the outskirts of the town, is described by one reviewer as being a “great course in pristine condition“. Again, it’s description is ‘Parkland’ and this eighteen hole course is also opened to the public throughout the year. There are quite a number of other facilities including a restaurant, bar, sauna, gym, club-house, banquet facilities and meeting facilities. The rates at this club are from €10 to €45 weekdays and weekends. More information can be sourced at http://www.thurlesgolfclub.com.

Templemore Golf ClubTemplemore Golf Club

Templemore Golf ClubTemplemore Golf Club

The Golf Club that is situated in Templemore was built in 1970 and is open tot he public while it is described as ‘Parkland’. It is open all year round, while its rates range from €15 to €20 and its extra facilities include a Club-house, bar and practice facilities. Other information can be found at http://www.templemoregolfclub.ie.

A golf ball.

A golf ball. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well that’s it for this week, but rest assured I’ll be back in a week’s time with some more good reasons to come and visit or just travel around North Tipperary. And don’t forget, there’s more to Irish scenery and tourist opportunities than Dublin and ‘The West’. This year, why not give ‘North Tipperary’ and the ‘Midwest’ a chance!

Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Why North Tipperary: A Walkers Paradise 2

Puckane CottagesPuckane Cottages
Hello again and welcome back to Why North Tipperary – our weekly look at why we think it would be a good idea for you to visit North Tipperary, or for our locals to enjoy our local community even more. This past two weeks I have been looking at the many different trails around North Tipperary, and I hope you are enjoying this and that you might even give it a turn.
HurlingAncient Game of Hurling
Birchhill Loop:
The beautiful village of Upperchurch is located not far from the town of Thurles on the side of the Silvermines mountain range. This quaint village is twinned with their neighbouring parish of Drombane with regards many mutual aspects, including the Great Gaelic game of Hurling. Hillwalking is hugely important to this area and the locals strive greatly to promote the local tourism through hillwalking. The local loop begins in the town of Thurles and proceeds along the R498 road towards Nenagh. Follow this roadway until you get to a junction for the R503 (signposted Limerick) and continue along this path onto Dempsey’s pub. At this point you are just 2km from Upperchurch, but all this information can be picked up at the local tourism office, or online here. Along this loop you will encounter a crossroads with a stone nameplate, a Blessed Well, an old church and graveyard, you will walk through some dense local forestry and other local landmarks. Please enjoy!
Slievedaragh HillsSlieveardagh Hills
Loch Dhoire Bhile Loop:
The Loch Dhoire Bhile Loop is all about the development of a heritage, angling and conservation community. Nestling under the Slieveardagh Hills is an ideal location for sanctuary for a large selection of wildlife that includes birds (lapwing and fieldfare), whooper swans, ducks (teal, mallard, pintail) and wild geese. There has been constructed upon 70 acres, which was previously owned by Bord na Mona, a lake, two wetlands and a wildlife sanctuary. With regards this loop, from Thurles, take the N62 south for about 6km. Take a left at the crossroads, following signs for Littleton. You will take the R639 for a short period, before turning right in Littleton towards the village of New Birmingham. The trailhead is signposted approximately 4.5km from Littleton or 3.5km from New Birmingham.
View from the Devils BitView from the Devils Bit
Devil’s Bit Loop:
There is a legend in North Tipperary that not only did the devil took a bite out of the mountain that is now know as the Devils Bit, but the demon hurled the chunk across the countryside where it then landed at the spot which is now know as the Rock of Cashel – scientists have since shown that the same grain of rock that is found in the Devil’s Bit mountain is also found in the Rock of Cashel. Anyway, what locals will honestly tel you is that the view from the Devils Bit Mountain (478m) provides a view of the surrounding eight counties. Along this loop the walker will encounter plenty of forestry, some dizzy hillside paths and a plethora of majestic views. Coming from Templemore, follow the R501 in the direction of Nenagh and Borrisoleigh. After approximately 3km, there is a right turn signposted for Devil’s Bit. Continue to follow the signs on minor roads until you reach the trail-head. Again, you can find out all necessary information at a local tourism office, or online right here.
Slieve FelimSlieve Felim
Slieve Felim Way:
Now for those who love an ol’ long walk – a good stretch of the ol’ legs, there is the Slieve Felim Way to challenge you. this walkway stretches from Murroe in County Limerick to SIlvermines village in North Tipperary, which is a distance of approximately 44 km. Along the route there are the views from many different mountains and miles upon miles of rugged, wonderful and stunning scenery. This walkway commences with the Slieve Felim range to the south, valleys and hills run east-west in the general area. The 2,279 ft (694m)-high Keeper Hill – the highest mountain in the Shannon Region – comes into view as you move northwards through the Mauher Slieve Hills, which predominately lie to the east of the walk. The northern section is dominated by the renowned Silvermines Mountains and presents stunning views of Lough Derg and beyond. From different vantage points along the way, views of 4 counties are possible – Tipperary, Limerick , Clare, and Offaly – and you can also see sections of the lordly River Shannon as it winds its way to the sea. Although the trail is signposted in either direction, it is generally agreed that the starting point from Murroe and walking towards Silvermines offers the most rewarding experience. All information can be sourced at the Shannon Regions Trail here.
Clare GlensClare Glens
Clare Glens Loop Walks:
The scenery of the Clare Glens is regularly described by visitors as simply breath-taking. The Clare Glens is a wooded area situated along the North Tipperary – Limerick border. It consists of a wild dense forest, which is combined with the calm rushing of crystal clear waters. The Glen also consists of a picturesque sandstone gorge through which the Clare river flows, while there are a number of waterfalls that are dotted along the landscape. Directions to the trail-head begin from the village of Murroe on the R506 between Limerick City and Cappamore. Follow the signs for Clare Glens which take you north out of Murroe. Follow this road for approximately 5km to reach the trailhead at a car parking area on your left. Both loops
start and finish here. [Note: The trailhead is signposted from Murroe].
Lough DergLough Derg Scene
Lough Derg Way:
The Lough Derg Way is a spectacular linear route that stretches from Limerick City, to Killaloe/Ballina (26km) and from Killaloe/Ballina to Dromineer (43km). The route is located along the banks of the River Shannon, the old Shannon navigational canal and the eastern shores of Lough Derg. The terrain is a mix of riverbank, canalbank, forest track, open countryside, old roadway and minor road. The Lough Derg Way explores some of the fascinating heritage of the old Limerick Navigation system and showcases some of the finest scenery around Lough Derg. There are five different key trail-heads which provide information map boards and car-parking. These are situated reasonably close to necessary facilities such as shops, accommodation, restaurants and public transport. These trail-heads are situated as follows:
  1. Limerick City (Limerick City Tourism Office, Arthur’s Quay)
  2. Clonlara, County Clare (Centre of VIllage)
  3. Killaloe, County Clare & Ballina, County Tipperary (Information Maps on both sides of the river and a tourism office on the Killaloe side)
  4. Garrykennedy, County Tipperary (Village Marina)
  5. Dromineer, County Tipperary (Centre of Village)
Masked BallNenagh Silent Film Festival Masked Ball
And, sure that’s all for this week. Now I know there are a number of other walkways scattered throughout North Tipperary, but sure why don’t you come and try and find them yourself and then lose yourself in North Tipperary.  It’s always a good time to visit North Tipperary, but next February around Valentine’s Day maybe a perfect opportunity for you to take in some of the many trails of North Tipperary during the day, and some of the Second Nenagh Silent Film Festival during the evening. Till next week then!
Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee

Why North Tipperary – A Walker’s Paradise

English: Waymarking sign, comprising an image ...

English: Waymarking sign, comprising an image of a walking man and a directional arrow in yellow, used in Ireland to denote a National Waymarked Trail. The design was copied from the symbol used to waymark the Ulster Way in Northern Ireland and has since become the standard waymarking image used for long-distance trails in the Republic of Ireland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello and welcome to this week’s Why North Tipperary, whereby this week, and for the next two weeks we are going to look at the different walking trails around North Tipperary. I have used several sources to accumulate these including Shannon Region Trails, Irish Trails and Trip Visor, so I hope you enjoy viewing some more very good reasons to visit North Tipperary.

English: Lough Derg, West Tipperary

English: Lough Derg, West Tipperary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Slí Eala (the Way of the Swan):
This walk is a National Linear Walk and it is marked out with green arrows. It begins at the beautiful lakeside village of Dromineer along the shores of Lough Derg and following the banks of the Nenagh river to Scott’s Bridge, which is situated 2.5km from the centre of Nenagh town. The length is just over six and a half miles, which can take up to three hours, however, along the way there is an abundant of wildlife including the Mute Swan, Ireland’s largest indigenous bird, which gives the walk its name.
Graves of the LeinstermenGraves of the Leinstermen
Graves of the Leinstermen:
A local tradition states that it is here at the Graves of the Leinstemen that the soldiers of Leinster and their King met their deaths at the hands of Brian Boru’s forces around the year 1000AD. The legend states that the Leinster King had requested to be buried within sight of the Leinster Kingdom and so his followers then placed his body under the ancient stading stones at this spot. This is a walking loop that is 6km in length, which starts at the Graves of the Leinstermen, and moves through the countryside, before turning into the Arra Mountains; the walk continues to the summit, which is called Tountinna, where some spectacular views of Lough Derg and the surrounding countryside are laid out in the canvas of a masterpiece. The walk descends then very quickly and steeply to the trail-head.
English: Panorama view on Tipperary and surrou...

English: Panorama view on Tipperary and surroundings, and at the horizon the Silvermines Mountains. Nederlands: Panoramafoto van Tipperary en omgeving, in de verte de Silvermines Mountains. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kilcommon Pilgrim Loop:
This is a wonderful walk through a section of the Silvermines Mountains, which is aptly called the Kilcommon Pilgrim Loop, since it brings the walker along the old mass paths leading to the church of Kilcommon village. It traverses a number of small minor roadways, forestry paths and it takes in the beauty of the Golden Vale countryside, as well as the lower slopes of Mauherslieve Mountain and open hillside. From this walkway there are some amazing views of County Tipperary and of County Limerick.
Knochnaroe ViewKnockanroe Wood Loop View
Knockanroe Wood Loop:
The Knockanroe Wood Loop is almost three miles in length and it takes in another section of the Silvermines Mountain range, around the village of Silvermines itself. This looped walkway itself explores the Coolyhorney area and it overlaps with the Slieve Felim Way for a short while. Historically, Silvermines village is very important to the area, where the mining of lead, sinc, copper, sulphide and barities have occurred since Roman times, while the highest point in North Tipperary is situated nearby – the top of the mast that is on top of Keeper Hill!
The Golden Vale in winter

The Golden Vale in winter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grange Crag Loop:

Both the Crag and the Grange Loops take the same initial routes from the village of Grange. The Crag route though diverges to the left following the turn after the ‘icehouse’. Walkers are then taken up through the mixed forest to the Wellington Monument folly, which is at the summit of Crag Hill. Again, there are some amazing views from some this walk’s highest points at the top of the Slieveardagh Hills of the Kilcooley estate, the central plains of Tipperary and the Golden Vale, and also the hills of the bordering counties of Laois, Cork, Limerick and others. The walk continues along a marked forest path and a winding ridge to view some of the local natural environment of ancient woodlands and flowing streams, before Crag Loop rejoins Grange Loop and circles back to the village of Grange.

Ballyhourigan Woods LoopBallyhourigan Woods Loop
Ballyhourigan Woods Loop:
Now, as previously mentioned, Keeper Hill is the highest point in North Tipperary, and of course there is also a couple of walks connected to this natural landmark. The Ballyhourigan Woods Loop is just over five and a half miles in length and it begins at the village of Toor, which is situated near the townland of Newport. This loop follows a woodland trail and forestry track in an ascent through Aherlow Nature Park and Ballinacourty Woods. The walkway traverses the southern shoulder of Slievenamuck, which offers the walker some magnificent views of the Galtee Mountains. Whilst walking through Ballyhourigan Woods, approximately 3km into the trek, there is an option to turn onto the Keeper Hill Trail which will take the walker up to the summit, however, if you continue along by the loop, you will eventually travel towards the village of Boolatin, before you eventually regain the trail-head. It is said that on a clear day that nine counties can be viewed from the top of Keeper Hill, so why not go for the long Keeper Trail and see how many you can spot!
English: Upperchurch, County Tipperary

English: Upperchurch, County Tipperary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eamonn A Chnoic Loop:

And last, but not least for this week’s Walker’s Trail, the Eamonn A Chnoic Loop, or the Ned of the Hill Loop. This loop is located around the village of Upperchurch and it gets its name from a local character of the 17th/18th century who was a local Robin Hood figure. The story goes that the English took his family’s vast land, but the young Eamonn was sent to France to enter the priesthood, however he returned to his homeland and soon got into trouble by shooting a tax collector. He then had to go on the run, but he didn’t hide and instead Ned of the Hill became one of a number of rapparees, who championed the cause of the poor by harassing the English Planters. Anyway, this walkway begins in Upperchurch village and continues through a wide range of fields and small lane-ways, while it also passes along the long forest boundaries, with the wild sounds of nature filling the air and singing through the mountain breezes. There are a number of tremendous views of the Comeraghs, Knockmealdowns, Galtees, Sleabh na mBán and the Devil’s Bit. This is one wonderful walk you won’t want to miss out on.
Photo of Lough Derg taken on 6/03/05 by Ludram...

Photo of Lough Derg taken on 6/03/05 by Ludraman with a Sony Cybershot DSC-P9. Edited mercilessly afterwards in iPhoto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well I hope you enjoyed that, and just to let you know that I’ll be back next week with the second part of my look at the many, many, picturesque nature-walks through North Tipperary. There is some amazing scenery in our midst, so why not come along and take in the sights and sounds of North Tipperary!

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Posted by Michael ‘Charlie’ McGee