This time last week during a weeks holiday to both counties Sligo and Mayo, in the norths west of Ireland, we hiked up Croagh Patrick or “The reek” as locals know of it. This mountain is one of Irelands Highest peeks and is most famous for being climbed by pilgrims on Reek Sunday every year, which is the last Sunday of each July. On this Sunday, thousands of pilgrims climb Croagh Patrick in honor of Saint Patrick who, according to tradition, fasted and prayed on the summit for forty days in the year 441.
It has been a personal aim to walk the peeks of a list of mountains in Ireland for a couple of years and “The Reek” is just one of these mountains to hike in the next couple of years.
The weather on the day was perfect and we started our walk about Midday having driven some 80km to the main car park used to start the hike. The start of the walk is good, being flat for a while and then only slowly rising in level, so you get a little time to warmup before the main slopes higher up the mountain side. Once you hike the first slopes the path levels off for a while until you come to the bottom of the main peek.
I really enjoyed this hike, its hard – no getting away from that fact but when you do finally get to the top the views are amazing, you can see most of county Mayo and well into county Sligo from here. there is a step that surrounds a small chapel that you can sit on to eat and have something to drink. We rested here for about 10 mins before walking around the top of the peek.
As you can see these images below are mostly taken at the top, when I finally go to open my bag and get my camera out. As I said you truly feel on top of the world here, this point is some 764 metres (2,507 ft) above sea level, not the highest mountain in the country by about 250 meters but here you start your walk at sea level so it could well be the highest distance you have to walk to get to the top…..
I will let these images do the rest of the talking for me other than to say , this is one of the most enjoyable walks of my life and I cannot wait to walk more Irish mountains in the months yo come ..
Croagh Patrick, County Mayo, A gallery
Shadows fall on the Valley
Day is done and the sun
Is slowly fading out of sight
I can hear, oh, so clear
A call that echoes in the night
Yes, I hear sweet and clear
The call of the faraway hills
There’s no rest on the Valley
There’s no rest for a restless soul
That just was born to roam
Who can say, maybe way out there
My heart may find a home
And I hear sweet and clear
The call of the faraway hills
There are trails I’ve never seen
And my dreams are getting old
And beyond the sunset
There are brand new paths
When a new dream or two
May just be one star away
I must obey the call of the faraway hills
Those Images – Poem by William Butler Yeats
What if I bade you leave
The cavern of the mind?
There’s better exercise
In the sunlight and wind.
I never bade you go
To Moscow or to Rome.
Renounce that drudgery,
Call the Muses home.
Seek those images
That constitute the wild,
The lion and the virgin,
The harlot and the child.
Find in middle air
An eagle on the wing,
Recognise the five
That make the Muses sing.
William Butler Yeats
The Land of Beyond
Have you ever heard of the Land of Beyond,
That dream at the gates of the day?
Alluring it lies at the skirts of the skies,
And ever so far away;
Alluring it calls: O ye yoke of galls,
And ye of the trails overfond,
With saddle and pack, by paddle and track,
Let’s go to the Land of Beyond!
Have ever you stood where the silences brood,
And vast the horizons begin,
At the dawn of the day to behold far away
The goal you would strive for and win?
Yet ah! in the night when you gain to the height,
With the vast pool of heaven star-spawned,
Afar and agleam, like a valley of dream,
Still mocks you the Land of Beyond.
Thank God! there is always the Land of Beyond
For us who are true to the trail;
A vision to seek, a beckoning peak,
A fairness that never will fail;
A proud in our soul that mocks at a goal,
A manhood that irks at a bond,
And try how we will, unattainable still,
Behold it, our Land of Beyond!
A Poem for those Augusts when it doesn’t rain …..
In August – Poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar
When August days are hot an’ dry,
When burning copper is the sky,
I ‘d rather fish than feast or fly
In airy realms serene and high.
I ‘d take a suit not made for looks,
Some easily digested books,
Some flies, some lines, some bait, some hooks,
Then would I seek the bays and brooks.
I would eschew mine every task,
In Nature’s smiles my soul should bask,
And I methinks no more could ask,
Except–perhaps–one little flask.
In case of accident, you know,
Or should the wind come on to blow,
Or I be chilled or capsized, so,
A flask would be the only go.
Then could I spend a happy time,–
A bit of sport, a bit of rhyme
(A bit of lemon, or of lime,
To make my bottle’s contents prime).
When August days are hot an’ dry,
I won’t sit by an’ sigh or die,
I ‘ll get my bottle (on the sly)
And go ahead, and fish, and lie!
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Bay Lough is the famous Corrie Lake in the side of Knockaunabulloga, part of the Knockmealdown Mountain range.
Bay Lough and its surrounds is a strong favourite with hill walkers and recreational walkers of all sorts. The walk to the lake from the car park is not too difficult and suitable for family outings. On any fine day you will see hundreds of walkers making the trip to the lake and walking to its furthest point (it is only possible to walk about half way around, the photo to your left is taken at the most distant point to which you can walk).
The name Bay Lough (or Baylough) is only tentatively connected to the lake. It is thought the name derives from an Anglicisation of the Irish word ‘bealach’ (pronounced ‘ba-lock’) which means ‘pass’ or ‘way’. Those mapping the area, who would have been English, no doubt presumed the word ‘bealach’ referred to the lough in the mountain. You’ll find this type of mistaken Anglicisation of place names all around Ireland for the same reason.
Bay Lough is located close to the hightest point of the pass in the Knockmealdown Mountains from Waterford to Tipperary and was along the regular roadway used for this journey. It is thought this path dates back to St. Declan, who travelled from Ardmore to Cashel along the route. You can still walk along St. Declan’s Way also known as Rian Bó Phadraig. It is popular with hikers who want to experience the historical heritage as well as the beauty of the area. The road from the car park to the lake, which can be continued past the lake and on to Mount Anglesby, was in fact the main road from Cappoquin and Lismore to Clogheen before the current road, going by the Vee, was constructed in the early nineteenth century. This old road is known locally as ‘the Soldiers Path’ and is now a forestry path. It is part of a number of spectacular walks around Bay Lough, see the Walks page for more information on these.
This area is a wonderful (and totally free) resource for locals and visitors alike. Should you wish to visit the lake it is most easily accessible from a car park on the Waterford side of the lake – this is the Loc8 Code for the lake –YZS-26-53G – just be aware that you can only drive as far as this Parking Area.
The lake has a strong historical significance both in South Tipperary and West Waterford. In local folklore it is famed as the lake to which Petticoat Loose was banished for all time, ordered to empty it with a thimble.
It is also widely held that the lake is ‘bottomless’ and that it is not possible to swim across it, despite its rather modest proportions.