Barry Meehan of "The Cycling Blog" has written about the Nire Valley Drop, read his blog here.
This is a piece by Barry Meehan "The Cycling Blog.com"
"Ireland is full of small village communities. Very often a group of neighbours in a rural village can come together to create something unseen in larger towns and cities. Being in such close contact with your limited amount of neighbours can create bonds that make the impossible seem possible. Ballymacarbery in County Waterford is a small village. A place that, until the building of a modern community centre you could easily drive through and hardly notice. But, out there in the shadow of the Comeragh Mountains, at the foot of the Nire Valley lies a community that knows no bounds...." continue
Ten things to see and do in Waterford, included in the list is Mary Wall of Hanora's Cottage. Check out the full list and click this link http://bit.ly/1oGiVcR
The Comeragh tour is a 100km cycle based out of Ballymacarbry every May. This is a link to a TV piece on the cycle first broadcast on Irish TV.
A new year, a new spring and a new adventure that is how we should greet 2014, don’t just dream about heading off on an adventure be inspired by Diabetes Ireland’s sponsored walk in the Comeragh Mountains, Co. Waterford, The Comeragh Bogtrot.
It is an adventure waiting for you. You can take on this amazing route as part of a band of happy adventurers and raise money and awareness of Diabetes. The route is 17km across the Comeragh Mountains and at the end your soul will be rewarded with a sense of achievement, while your body will be rewarded with hot showers, light refreshments and good company.
Diabetes Ireland are the official charity of this 17km hike at this year’s Comeragh Bogtrot. The charity is hoping that all those participating in this walk will consider using the event to fundraise for the charity through family, friends and work colleagues… or indeed a donation on the day.
Registration is €25.00 plus €1.75 booking fee, this covers bus transfer to start of walk, light refreshments after the walk, hot showers and changing facilities, insurance and some goodies.
The Nire Valley was featured on Nationwide on Wednesday night (25th June). If you missed and want to catch up on the program and see what the Nire Valley has to offer just follow this link to RTE Player and the Nationwide program. If you can not see the program we have a Youtube video of what we have in the Nire Valley.
Need some excitement in the New Year, take on one of the three Comeragh Bogtrot hikes. Choose from the challenging 32km self-guided hike, Coumfea, or a 20km self-guided walkover Mahon falls to Ballymacarbry (Cnocan na phoibre) and if you want a challenge but do not want the hassle of a self-guided route go with the 17km Bearna walk from Rathgotmack to Ballymacarbry crossing the Comeragh Mountains at the Gap.
The 2014 Comeragh Bogtrot will take place on 29th March 2014. We have been busy putting together a varied programme to provide as wide a range of walks as possible.
Full details and our 2014 Comeragh Bogtrot brochure can be downloaded here.
Could you be tempted to climb a hill to follow a calf? You might be, especially if that calf was on Knocksheegowna peak, part of Knockanaffrin ridge. Local lore tells us a "fairy calf" rises out of the waters of Loch Mohra and sits on top of Knocksheegowna, the calf has a way to lure you up to the peak, it looks like a quite, well bred animal it would compliment your herd, all you have to do is climb to the top and take it. Only problem is it will take you before you take it, for the fairies will take you to their world. You were warned, after all Knocksheegowna means "fairy calf hill".
What is the most hated plant in Ireland? You might think of nettles and even some might volunteer broccoli, but technically, at least, you would be wrong. The title of most hated plant must go to Senecio Jacobea or Ragwort ( Buachalán). What are my bases for this claim, well there is a law banning ragwort. Ask a horse owner about ragwort and be prepared for the "rant" that will follow.
Ragwort is highly poisonous especially to cattle, goats, horses and deer. Sheep seem to have some resistance to the weed but it retards there ability to thrive. To make matters worse it is at its deadliest when it gets in among hay or silage. Normally animals will not eat ragwort as it is bitter and unpalatable, they will only eat it in areas where the land is overgrazed and the cattle are hungry. However when ragwort gets into hay, the drying process removes the bitterness but the plant looses none of its toxins, thus making it more palatable and just as deadly.
If you are out on the mountain this time of year you will come across whorts also called fraocháns or bilberries. These delightful black berries with a shimmer of electric blue are in full season. They are a real treat on the mountain. Whorts were once picked on a commercial basis and in 1941 Ireland exported almost 400 tons (CSO) of the berry to Britian.
Every journey you take is affected by the location of river crossings, bridges. No matter what your destination you have to find a point that gets you across a stream, river, estuary etc. The town, city, village you work and shop in is probably there because of a bridge. How many Irish place names have "ath" ( river ford) in there name, Athenry, Athy even Dublin in Irish is Baile Áth Cliath "The town of the hurdled ford".
Funerals are no fun, it's a serious business. A few generations ago going to a funeral in the Nire or anywhere in the
“You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you're no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn't just a means to an end but a unique event in itself.” Robert Pirsig. Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.
Yes a twister! a real bona fide tornado. On Sunday 8th May sitting having lunch at Coum Locha, it was blustery but we were comfortable surrounded by heather. Then out of nowhere there seemed to be a splash in the lake except instead of being in the one place the "splash" raced across the lake surface as if someone was pulling an invisible stick through the water. It was a tiny tornado. Unusual you may think but the locals have a name for it, a Shee Gaoithe or a ghost wind. A Shee Gaoithe is more commonly seen in summer as it lifts wisps of hay into to the air on an August evening. We we are not in Kansas now Dorthea, but the twisters do happen in the Nire also.
Folklore tells us "if the Ash before the Oak then a year of splash and crash, if the Oak before the Ash then a year of smoke and choke". I had given up on this piece of lore as been stupid, because I never saw the Ash tree to bud before the mighty Oak. But low and behold I have seen two Ash trees bud out this week and not an oak leaf to be seen. So is this year going to be a year of splash and crash, that is rain, thunder and lightning.
The British Woodland Trust in an interesting article in the Telegraph tell us that "---The spectacle of the ash leafing before the oak has occurred only four times in the last 44 years,---. The last time the ash came first was 1986." They claim this is because of global warming and milder springs. So keep your eye open to see if your Ash buds before the Oak and then we shall see how correct the piece of weather lore is.
If you are going walking tomorrow, Saturday 19th, head off early, it will be cold and rain is forecasted after 14:00hrs. So you will need fleece in the morning and rain gear in the evening. March of many weathers.
RTE's Track & Trails starts on Thursday Night and the Comeragh Mountains will feature on Friday 18th September at 7:30pm. Travel writer Pól O Conghaile explores the Mahon Falls and the Nire Valley.
The family walk on Sunday 12th will register in the Community Centre Ballymacarbry at 11:00am with the walk heading out at 11:30am. Children are FREE and adults are €5.00 each. Bring suitable footware, there will be a little mud and water.
The very popular Tracks & Trails is being filmed at the moment and one episode will feature Co. Waterford part of which was shot in the Nire Valley. Pól Ó’Conghaile, of the Irish Independent will present the show which should be on your TV early in 2015.
All walks register in Ballymacarbry Community Centre.
2014 Festival Walks.
Saturday 11th October 2014.
A Walk 6hours Walk from the Nire Carppark over Knockanafrinn Ridge, across Lachtnafrancach and down to Ballymacarbry Community Centre.
B+ Walk 6 hours From Ballymacarbry Community Centre to Mt Mellary Monastery, a bus will be provided for the return leg.
B Walk.The Nire Lakes low level, a chance to visit all 6 of the Nire group of lakes.
C Walk 3-4 hours Nire Valley trails loop to Sgillogues and back.
Sunday 12th October 2013.
B+ Walk. From the Old Bridge in Clonmel to Ballymacarbry, along parts of the Munster Way. A bus will be provided to bring you to the Oldbridge.
B Walk Knockanafrinn Ridge.
C Walk The Tooreen Bronze age sites.
Family Walk Turraphucca wood.
Registration is in Ballymacarbry Community Centre. Check website for times.
Cost €20.00 per person per day,children are free on the Family walk Sunday, light refreshments will be served after the walk, ample parking, bus transfers where needed, hot showers available after the walks if needed.
The Nire Valley was featured on Nationwide on Monday night (27th June). If you missed and want to catch up on the program and see what the Nire Valley has to offer just follow this link to RTE Player and the Nationwide program. If you can not see the program we have a Youtube video of what we have in the Nire Valley.
Für unsere deutschen Leser. Wandern in den Comeragh Mountains auf der Grünen Insel.
If you are in Dublin this weekend (24th-26th Jan) why not come visit us at Holiday World, we will be amongst the Home Holiday sector. Find out more about the accommodation and events we have set out for 2014. If your interest is walking, cycling, good food and good accommodation, drop by. We are at Stand M10.
The Nire Valley Bogtrotters Sunday walk on 24th November will follow, roughly, the route taken by General Liam Lynch on the 10th April 1924, the day he was killed, bringing an effective end to the Irish Civil War. After reaching the Liam Lynch Memorial tower we will pick up the Munster Way and follow it back to our cars parked near Newcastle. In all the walk should take 3 hours and we should be back in Newcastle by 14:00hrs
The Nire Valley walking club is the Nire Valley Bogtrotters, we walk every other Sunday from September to June, we walk, mainly, in the Comeragh Mountains. We also organise the Comeragh Bogtrot in March and are involved in the Nire Valley Autumn Walking festival in October. If you are interested in joining us send me an email to - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ever wonder about Cinderella and the wisdom of wearing glass slippers? We'll more about that later. One of the great natural sights in the Nire Valley at the moment are its red squirrels. Around October every year the squirrel population in the valley become more visible, they seem to be in a mad hurry to gather stores for the approaching winter. We are luck in the valley that the grey* squirrel has not, yet, invaded the area, but they have been seen at the edge of the valley about two miles west of Ballymacarbry.
The native red squirrel population was wiped out before but the species was reintroduced, one interesting feature of the Irish Red squirrel is the predominance of a white tip on their tail, watch out for it the next time you see one. Mammals in a Sustainable Environment (MISE)
are involved in studying the red squirrels in the Nire Valley and they use special tubes that gather samples of hair from the squirrel that can be used to collect DNA and give us an insight to the squirrel population in the valley.
Squirrel fur was once highly valued as a trim on clothing and this brings us back to Cinderella and her glass slippers. Cinderella is a fairy tale of French origin and in French Squirrel fur was called "vair" another word pronounced the same but spelled different is "vere" meaning glass. So was the tale of Cinderella mistranslated, who knows and there are several sites on the internet where it is debated. But an English word that has a common root with squirrel fur is "variegated". In heraldry squirrel fur is represented by blue and white pattern and is called variegated.
PS.* I started this blog ten days ago and in that time I have confirmed the sighting of grey squirrel in the Valley along the Nire Road. One hopes the local gun club can control the numbers.
More information on squirrels and how to spot squirrel activity in your area can be found on the MISE Facebook site.
Original Blog Comeragh.
At the bottom of my garden are two trees six feet apart and but separated by 4,000 years!
One is a plum tree the other a blackthorn. The plums, purple/red, are juicy and very sweet, the sloe is small hard with a magnificent black and electric blue skin. Anyone who has bitten into to a sloe knows they are bitter, astringent to be exact as they dry out your mouth in an instant leaving you unable to taste anything for several moments. Yet these two trees are related as plums were breed from the sloe.
The sloe producing blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) comes into bloom in March and is the first full blown hint of spring that nature gives us. We frequently get cold, stormy weather in early April blowing all the blackthorn petals off the branches leaving the roadside covered with white petal blossom and in parts of England this is called blackthorn winter. The blackthorn is used for fencing as its long thorns make it impenetrable to cattle while the timber of the blackthorn is used to make the Shillelagh walking stick.
Even though the sloe taste is astringent it still has its uses. It is commonly used to make sloe-gin or, my favourite, sloe-apple jelly. It takes a minimum of 3 months to make sloe-gin and thus needs to be carefully planned to have in time for Christmas, but it is better if you can leave it longer. Sloe-apple jelly is made by adding two parts crab apple one part sloe. The taste is divine, very tart but goes well on scones.
Next time you are in the country, try a sloe.
In 1847 Clonmel Architect William Tinsley designed a house in Ballymacarbry, for mill manager and landlord's agent, Abraham Coates. Tinsley is also credited with designing the Protestant church that was built near Deerpark Bridge about a mile from Ballymacarbry village. I have not been able to find any documentary evidence of this, nor can I see his trademark “palmette” on the building, but that may have been over the main door, which was demolished, but there is strong indications that Tinsley designed the Church as his daughter Ellen was married to Charles Fry rector of Kilronan (Fourmilewater).
Next time you are going walking in the Nire, even if your late and in a rush you can not fail to notice the pretty Nire Church (St. Helena's Church). Even if you fly past you can't but notice the Church. There was not always have a church here, in fact the Nire was not even a parish until the late 19th century. Before 1850 the Nire was a place where six parishes came together; Rathgormack , Clonmel's (St. Peter & Paul's, St. Mary's), Seskinane, Fourmilewater and Kilsheelan. There was a small church in Knockaunbrendan which was not a parish church and did not have a cemetery, this meant that when an inhabitant of the Nire died they were buried in a cemetery at one of the six parishes. In 1859 the foundations for the Nire Church were laid and it took three years to complete. The Church was designed by famous Church architect J.J McCarthy. McCarthy designed churches all over Ireland including Tramore, Clonea-Power, Thurles, Monaghan and many more.
So often it is the little thing when pointed out, that is the most fascinating. Often waiting for walkers outside Hanora’s Cottage, guesthouse, I watch the most amazing of our native songbirds. You know what a song bird is? One of those little songsters that chatters away from sun -up to sun-down with its happy tune, you probably have your favourite, thrush, blackbird, lark the list goes on. But this one I am observing is fascinating, not for its song but for what it does.
No I haven’t lost my mind or sense of direction, but the Obama family visit to Glendalough and Wicklow could drive up visitor numbers to the Nire Valley in County Waterford . During walking festival, last October, we were all returning to Doocey’s Pub in Ballymacarbry when a car pulled up beside us and the driver, in a heavy German accent, asked if we could direct them to the interpretative center. Thinking we had misheard him asked “where are you looking for” to which he joyfully replied the interpretative center.
I had a free day last Saturday, when you get a free day don't waste it, so I got up at eight a.m., rucksack packed including a lunch box, with two tomatoes, a tin of sardines, three slices of bread.
I headed for a nearby woodland, on the way picking handfuls of Bitter-hairy Cress, a thin plant with a small white flower that is common and found as a weed in every garden. Bitter-hairy Cress has a wonderful peppery taste and is one of my favourite wild foods. Soon I am in the forest, a forest of mixed trees; this place is not a dark densely packed forest but a light-airy woodland with sunlight filtering through to the woodland floor. The woodland floor is covered in moss and what I am looking for, Wood Sorrel.
Well it's nearly over and we have winter to look forward to, "if this be summer - role on winter of no false promises". The 18th Nire Valley walking festival is fast approaching and I hope you will part take. The festival is a mixture of exercise with a large social element, dinner will be available, for anyone wishing to avail of it, in The Community Centre, Ballymacarbry on the Saturday night. Advance bookings are definitely necessary. This was a great success last year and is being done again by very popular demand and you can bring your own bottle of wine. I attach the walks schedule for this year which can also be viewed on our website http://www.nirevalley.com/, or if you wish to follow us on the Nire Valley Walking festival Facebook site.
It looks like not all vandals come wearing hoodies and drinking cans of cheap cider. The stone circle at Tooreen has, again, been vandalised. The vandals have left their paper lanterns and garden torches all around the site erected some sort of floral arch over the portal stones and worse of all they have constructed and lit a fire in the center of the circle. This fire has, possibly, compromised the archaeological integrity of the site. Yes, they cut the ferns around the site and tidied the site but why oh why did they light a fire within the site. They may as well have arrived in their hoodies and spray painted the site at least they would be honest to their trade of vandal. The vandalism occurs around Celtic festivals of Bealtaine, mid-winter, mid-summer etc. However these are Celtic rituals, the stone circle is early Bronze age, before the arrival of the Celts, if they ever existed, so get your history right.
Please leave this site alone and either build your own stone circle or go back to daubing "Kilroy was here" on public toilet walls.
What a combination. The clocks go forward an hour and the bog trot. Up at 6:30 summertime unsure if I had set the alarm correct or not, isn't amazing when you need a radio DJ to give a time check they never do, we had re set some of he clock in the house but not them all. Turns out I am up at the correct time. 7:00AM Ballymacarbry Community Center, sign in time, the crowds arrived, we had 94 walkers in all. It was a tough walk, most expected the climb up Mahon falls to be hard followed by the decent into the gap and the climb out to Knockanaffrin Peak. But it was the walk from the Nire Church to Ballymacarbry, through Knocklisheen woods, that really caught some people. A dinner or soup and roll at the end of the walk was really appreciated. Well done to all who were involved.
The Comeragh Bog Trot is on Sunday 27th March, a 25km trot across the Comeraghs from Mahon Falls to Ballymacarbry. At the moment the long range weather forecast looks good, well a few showers and cooler than the weather at present. I am making arrows (Signs, not Bear Grylls) but maybe just maybe I should be looking through some Bear Grylls DVDs.
Patrick your a gentleman. Its a binocular day, with weather like this the most important kit today is a pair of binoculars and a camera. Blue skies in March are better for sightseeing than a blue skyed July, as in March the air is still cold and clear no heat haze. So here's to distant views today.