CORRIB RAMBLERS ON THE MOVE
By Mary Kyne
Over the years the Ramblers have walked in woods, forests, climbed mountains, skirted shore lines and explored villages. We were always willing to take on new challenges.
“Then there are the grand bare mountains, with caprices of sunlight playing about their solemn heads, and shining into their purple depths; and below are waters untraceable and in calculable.”
Letters from Ireland, Harriet Martineau 1852
The magic of climbing mountains is challenging and unreal, the landscape is untouched and far removed from the rush of modern-day life. It is this remoteness and isolation that attracted us to the mountains. We do not traverse rough terrain that requires a compass or ability to read maps accurately etc. as we lack experience in this type of walks. We follow well defined paths and roads with the exception of Lechavrea Hill, Maam Cross. One can see from Lechavrea mountain top a changing panorama of wild landscape, water, bog, mountain and sea. You can also view Hen’s Castle home of Grace O Malley, pirate queen of the west.
Mount Gable Clonbur
Laura ten Monne has led us up MountGable in the heart of Joyce Country. It stands alone on a narrow strip of land that separates Lough Corrib from Lough Mask. It is and area of extensive sheep farming thus NO DOGS. Waters from the mountain top rush down into picturesque Lough Coolin.
When the club was first formed we used to climb Croagh Patrick annually. Our aim for 2012 is to attempt to try it once more. The isolated peak sits on the southern shore of ClewBay with panoramic views over land and sea – it is regarded as Ireland’s holiest of peaks. We carried a wooden replica of St. Patrick’s Church (which is situated on the summit) to the top of the mountain – an onerous task!
A visit to Letterfrack National Park and the climb up Diamond Hill has to be one of our favourite climbs as we follow a defined path that leads us to the top where we over look the vibrant village of Letterfrack, founded in 1849 by the Quakers John and Mary Ellis, Kylemore Abbey and walled garden. The splendid building nestled under the protection of the mountain was build between 1864 -1871 as a token of love by Mitchell Henry to his wife Margaret. On our descent from the lofty peak we enjoy a bowl of soup/sandwiches in the Park restaurant.
We make the annual pilgrimage on Good Friday to Maiméan. Fr. Mc Greal officiates and Joe Joe Ridge sings the haunting ‘caoineadh’, “Caoineadh na dTrí Mhuire” as we follow the Stations of the Cross and pray. We are in agreement that on this mountain we discover a peace and harmony within ourselves, with one another and with our own planet. It helps us understand the true meaning of life on earth.
When we were young and agile we climbed the first two peaks but fearing a sudden change in weather conditions we decided to abandon the third peak that would have placed us on the highest peak in the Twelve Pins. It was a wise decision as we had just reached safe ground when the mist rolled in covering the upper regions of the mountain. Roisín Collins our youngest rambler had no problem on the rough terrain as she scrambled over the rocks like a ‘mountain goat’ – (a name given to her by our leader Roland).
We had over night stays and as well as day trips in Inishbofin. We saw everything from cliff forts and monastic sites to great sandy beaches, even a Cromwellian Castle, a seal colony and deep sea caves. The corncrake which is almost extinct attracts many naturalists to the island. It has also become an important centre for Traditional Irish Music with its own Ceilí Band.
There are some walks that hold very happy memories for the group especially the times we spent with our beloved leader Roland who is no longer with us. Inishbofin is one of our special walks. After a strenuous day’s walking we would relish a good meal, a few drinks, song and dance. In fact we always had great “craic”. We know how to enjoy ourselves!!
We visited ClareIsland synonymous with Grace O Malley ruler of ClewBay in the second half of the 16th century – the ruin of her castle is at the mouth of the harbour. We had lunch in a private house arranged for us by my good friend Fr. Ned Crosby. He showed us the 15th century Cistercian Friary, founded by the monks of Abbeyknockmoy, Co. Galway. The cancel wall vault was once covered in fresco painting, patches of which still remain. According to folklore, the remains of Grace O Malley were interred in the decorated O Malley wall tomb in the Friary following her death in 1600.
We enjoyed a pleasant stay in Achill a few years ago. We stayed in Denis Geoghegan’s cottage over looking the wild Atlantic Ocean. Barbara Mc Sharry and I used a ‘sat nav’ for the first time. At the end of the journey we refused to obey the directions given! Yes! You guessed we got lost in the winding narrow roads of the village.
The highlight of the visit was a visit to the “Deserted Village” – all that remains of a once vibrant community is 74 ruins. The village is a sad reminder of Ireland’s darkest time – the famine of the mid 1800’s. Driven by repeatedly failing crops and a desperate hunger, the people of this village deserted en masse to the nearby village of Dooagh and overseas. The cabins were used as a Booley village up until the 20th century – local farmers moved their herds up to higher grounds for pasture during the summer months and used these cabins as temporary accommodation.
We lingered for a long time pondering on the past not alone of this village but of the many similar villages we have stumbled on in our rambles around Connacht.
In the afternoon we strolled along the magnificent beach at Keel, under Achill Head.
2012 We returned to walk “The Green Way” starting at the Railway Hotel Mulranny and walked the trail of scenic splendour along the old railway track. Unfortunately the day was wet and the mountains were shrouded in mist. We will be back.
“I see us walk between the railway slopes,
Into an evening of long grass and midges
Blue smoke straight up, old beds and ploughs and hedges”
“The Harvest Bow” by Seamus Heaney
“And I shall have some peace there,
For peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning
To where the cricket sings;
There midnights all a glimmer, and noon
A purple glow, and evening full of the linnets wings”
“The LakeIsle of Innisfree” by W.B. Yeats
We have visited all three islands on numerous occasions. Though Inishmaan and Inisheer differ from Inishmore in their size and shape and orientation, the three islands possess similar landscapes. Each slopes gently to the waters of Galway Bay. They rise inland in a series of limestone terraces to an altitude of 108 metres forming sheer cliff faces. After leaving the harbour at Inishmore we take the road to Dún Eochaill. From this high point in the island we walk a narrow boreen that leads one over limestone slabs to famous Dún Aonghasa – massive encircling walls and chevaux-de-frise (defense work made of sharp standing stones) and a 700 foot drop into the wild Atlantic. We usually return by the coast road, around by the seal colony along the shore inhabited by several species of birds.
2012 Una Fleming plans to take us to Dún Dú Chathair (The Black Fort) in June. We look forward to the adventure.
This island is the quieter of the three islands and because of this quality visitors enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the place.
We first drop anchor, beyond the pier,
Off the first island called Inisheer,
Where all the islandmen and women
Wear bright-knit shawls and well-patched homespun,
The women with rainbows round their shoulders,
The oarsmen strong and grey as boulders.
The currachs that lie along the strand
Are hoisted up. Black new moons walk the sand
And down where the waves break in white lace.
The bobbing boats all plunge and race
And row right under the steamer’s bows –
The back they ride with homely cargoes.
This island, my favourite, needs no further description from me.
“The trees are in their autumn beauty’
The woodlands paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky”
Wild Swans at Coole by W.B. Yeats
The trail is defined by 20 stops. A booklet explains the flora and fauna associated with each stop. A visit to the walled garden where you cannot miss the famous autograph tree (A Copper Beach) on which Lady Gregory invited her literary guests to carve their initials. We always stop to have lunch and visit the museum.
New Village woodland walk is a favourite. There is a gravel road through the forest which leads one to Lough Secun. It gives a good view of unspoilt bog and moorland and further on you get a splendid view of Lough Corrib with its 365 islands. We often take the old “Bóthar na Mínne” which follows the lake shore back into Oughterard. Christina O Malley usually leads the walk.
Agnes and Michael Mc Evilly act as leaders on this walk and the Rock Road, Moycullen walk. The wood has a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees with short spur tracks along the shore of Ross lake. This sheltered loop walk is suitable for all ages and ability.
Ballynahinch Woods and Castle
I’m not sure if it was the tea/scones/jam and cream, chowder soup or the charm of the woods that drew us every December to this area. It was traditional for us to come here before celebrating Christmas with our families. The winter walk in Ballynahinch took us through the woods while the summer walk, led by Barbara Mc Sharry, brought us from Clifden along the Galway/Clifden Railway line to the Ballynahinch Castle rich in history and folklore.
Cong to Clonbur
Ann Gallen leads the walk. It can be a two hour walk or a four hour walk depending on our level of fitness. The walk begins at the 12th century Augustian Cong Abbey. We cross over the river beside the Monk’s Fishing house and then turn right through the woods. We pass the “Pigeon Hole” cave and descend 61 artificial steps hewn from solid rock to the bottom of the cave. The bottom is dark, weird, ghostly place where the underground river rushes through. Further on we come to Ballykyne Castle. On reaching the Cong/Clonbur road the more energetic ramblers continue towards Golden Bay on the shores of Lough Corrib and back to Ashford. The four hour walk challenges our fitness!!