The Glen of Aherlow
The Glen of Aherlow extends scenically for about 15 miles between the Galty Mountains and the Slieve na Muck Hills.
The Glen has always been an important pass between Co. Tipperary and Co. Limerick, and for centuries was the haunt of bandits. After the Cromwellian war, it became a hideout for Raparees, Roman Catholics dispossessed of their lands who became outlaws.
The old Coach Road was the route used by Bianconi’s Coaches for much of the C19th.
The Glen features spectacular vistas and several popular and enjoyable walks and drives. There is a particularly beautiful view of the area from the statue of Christ the King, which was erected by the local community.
Clonbeg church (CoI) stands on the site of an ancient church founded by Saint Sedna, of which only an ivy-covered wall remains. Gravestones in the churchyard, both Protestant and Catholic, date as far back as 1700.
Kilpeacan and St. Berrihert’s Kyle at Ardane are early monastic sites featuring numerous grave slabs, of little artistic merit but of great interest for the variety of the cross types.
Each year, the Glen of Aherlow Society organises a Walking Festival during the month of April.
Behold Aherlow is an interesting book about the Glen by Michael Lynch.
Slievenamuck (1215ft) is the location of a roofless chamber tomb. This is one of several megalithic burial sites in the area popularly identified as “Diarmuid & Grainne’s Bed“, slept in by the legendary lovers on their flight from the angry Fionn MacCumhaill.
Darby`s Bed at Corberry is another; it is a very ancient wedge-shaped gallery grave, quite rare so far south.
Glencliff Gorge was created by a glacial overspill and melt water torrent from a pre-glacial lake.
Moor Abbey was a Franciscan monastery built c.1205 by Donach Cairbreach O’Brien, and inhabited until 1748, but the only surviving building is the church (1471), damaged by troops in 1569 and 1920.
Galbally (Co. Limerick / East)
Galbally (An Gallbhaile – “Townland of the Foreigners”) (pop. 250), scenically located on the River Aherlow, is considered one of Ireland’s most picturesque villages. The English name carries the stress on the first syllable.
The location is believed to have been occupied by a Viking settlement called Cu, linked to the surname Cussen.
A ruined C13th church stands in the local graveyard, where many of the oldest burials bear names of obvious English origin that still thrive in the parish: Sampson, Blackburn, Richardson, Dawson.
The statue in the town square commemorates the 1918 – 1921 War of Independence.
Hillcrest Riding Centre provides treks through the beautiful surrounding countryside.
The district offers a wide range of accommodation from hotels to B&Bs to self-catering thatched houses. There are several good pubs and eateries.
The Galbally Farmer is a well known folk song telling of the trials of a labourer hired by the miserly farmer of the title, Darby O’Leary (with a tune also known as “Thank God we’re surrounded by water”).
Galbally is not far from Emly (Co. Tipperary) and Hospital on ByRoute 6.
Duntryleague Passage Tomb, located on Duntryleague Hill (922ft), a western spur of Slievenamuck, is believed to be the butrial place of the great Olill Ollum. (Photo by saintinexile)
Ballylanders & Anglesboro (Co. Limerick / Southeast)
Ballylanders (Baile an Londraigh) (pop. 800) is a small village situated between the Galty Mountains and the Ballyhoura Mountains, best known for its GAA football team.
The translation of the name in Irish is either “Settlement of the Londoner” or “Town of Londra”, the latter being a surname which may be related to the Norman de Loundres, meaning “of London”.
The main street is dominated by a roofless C19th Church of Ireland edifice.
The church of the Assumption (RC) was one of the first modern round churches in Ireland.
Griston Bog on the west side of the village is home to a wide range of flora and fauna (especially dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies), some now in danger of extinction in many parts of the world. Ornithologists appreciate the variety of local birdlife, and the peatland streams have been stocked with brown trout for anglers. Ballylanders Wildlife Bog is a section with raised wooden walkways and information boards to assist exploration.
Ballyfroota is the location of a megalithic tomb. The local Holy Well has long been the focus for a traditional Pattern gathering on 15th August.
Anglesboro / Anglesborough (Glenn na gCreabhar – “Valley of the Woodcocks”) is said to have been given its English name in perverse acknowledgement of the fact that it had held out as one of the last outposts of spoken Irish!
Massy Lodge, now partially demolished, was the summer residence of the Barons Massy of Duntrileague and Clarina.
Anglesoro is not far from Kilbehenny on ByRoute 4.
Slievereagh / Sliabh Riagh, aka Brown / Flat Mountain (465m / 1531ft) stands alone, to the north of the bulk of the Ballyhoura range. The slopes features several interesting ancient sites, including a Stone Circle and raths, souterrains and graves. The summit, known as the Pinnacle, is said to be the burial place of a great chieftain, and although somewhat marred by a telecommunications mast, commands magnificent views across a broad swathe of County Limerick to the nearby Galty Mountains.
Glenbrohane & Ballyvreena (Co. Limerick / Southeast)
Glenbrohane / Glenbroghan, commonly known as “the Glen”, lies on the slopes of Slievereagh. A Famine Relief Road constructed in the late 1840s runs parallel to the village.
St Patrick’s church (RC), a cruciform edifice built in 1819, commands superb views of the surrounding landscape.
The C19th parish priest’s stable has been restored, and now houses a permanent lifesize crib.
The Field of Dreams is a 25-acre animal sanctuary with a visitors’ centre.
Ballingarry House, a private residence, has a paddock containing the Ballingarry Ogham Stone, aka the Knockfierna Ogham Stone, found on that hill between Ballingarry and Rathkeale in 1837. Dated to c.400 AD, the legend reads “Mailagni Maqi Gamati“, presumably referring to an ancient chieftain. This is the only Ogham Stone in County Limerick.
The Ballingarry / Glenbroghan / Doonglaura Moats are earthworks variously associated with ancient chieftains, Saint Patrick and a C12th Norman farmstead.
Ballinvreena is the location of a C19th thatched cottage used as a community centre and venue for crossroads dancing, singing, story telling sessions, bingo, historical meetings and an annual play produced by the long established amateur drama group, the Canavour Players. Many walks also begin and end at the cottage over the summer months.
Ballinahinch Castle in the valley below Ballinvreena may date back to the late C16th when the White Knights, chiefs of Clan Gibbon, were overlords of the area. Some sources state the edifice was built during the reign of King Charles Ist (1625-1649)by Margaret Grady, widow of the Gibbon Fitzgibbon. Its semi-defensive architecture results from an era in which Ireland was changing from a society of conflict to a period of relative peace. Maurice Fitzgibbon (probably their son) held the castle and over 270 hectares in the locality, together with three thatched house and 22 small cabins. Later, the castle passed to the Oliver family. Remains of mullion and transom windows can be seen on both outer walls and end gables of the atmospheric ruin. Ballinahinch castle is a private property.
Glenbrohane & Ballinvreena are not far from Knocklong on ByRoute 6.
Cush, a townland on the western side of Slievereagh, about 750 ft high, contains an extensive complex of ancient fields and earthwork enclosures, excavated in 1932-1934 and found to have been continuously occupied by an agricultural community from around 1000 BC to 400 AD. To the south, six ring forts arranged to form a strange shape of obscure significance were joined together with a large rectangular enclosure located to the west. Seventy rotary querns, glass beads, a Bronze Age urn, an abundance of iron slag and a number of burials were found. One fort was apparently set aside as a burial ground, while other cremated human remains were discovered in decorated urns found under mounds erected during the Bronze Age (3500 to 5500 years ago). These discoveries provided evidence of a sophisticated farming society – some of whose descendants may still farm in the area today. The country – folk once commonly believed that Cush was a focal point for strange lights at night. Other pre historic ring forts in the fields below were believed to have been inhabited by leprechauns, and by some mystical means provided access to the Otherworld.