Rothar Routes

Cycle routes & pilgrim journeys in Ireland and Europe …..

Archive for ‘January, 2018’


I can safely say some of my best memories were cycling the Camino with each of my three young lads, Cian, Darragh and Ronan just after they finished primary school. 12 years age and it was no problem to them! Ronan then cycled the Via Francigena with me in 2010. Only Jerusalem left to complete the three great pilgrimage routes of Christendom! Some nice memories here – have lost a lot of the video footage but these clips give a flavour

St Mullins, Ecclesiastical Village of south Carlow

Wedged in between counties Kilkenny and Wexford at the very southern tip of County Carlow and located between the Blackstairs and Mount Brandon on the banks of the River Barrow, St Mullins is a national treasure.

‘Tigh Moling’ as it is more properly called in Irish, was founded by the great Irish saint, Moling.

The monastery was founded in the 7th Century and thankfully substantial sections are still clearly evident today.Trinity College Library is home to the priceless ancient Book of Moling in which there is a plan of the monastery – the earliest known plan of an Irish Monastery. The ‘Gobán Saor’, a legendary Irish craftsman is said to have assisted in the building of the monastery which consisted of four churches, a round tower and numerous crosses. It was a very important early Christian site that was twice plundered by the Vikings travelling inland along the River Barrow in their long boats.

The graveyard contains the graves of many United Irishmen who died in the 1798 rebellion which are often marked with green shields.

Just below the Church on the eastern side is St Moling’s Well and people came here for a cure during the Great Plague.

St Mullins also has a most impressive Norman Motte and Bailey which would have used for protection of the village below.

St Mullins is traditionally on of the great pilgrimage sites in Ireland and people came here on the annual Patter Day which is the first Sunday before 25th July to take of the waters’. There used be two pattern days, 17th June and 25th July (feast of St James). The Pattern still attracts huge crowds and pilgrims drink the healing waters of the well after the blessing by the priest and then a procession to the cemetery for mass at the Penal Altar. It’s a great social occasion too and there are many stalls and amusements to entertain the visitors.

Leaving the village and heading in the direction of Carrigleade is another important site associated with St Mullins that celebrates one of his great achievements, Teampaill na Bo. It was a small church built in thanksgiving to Moling who freed the Leinster men from paying an unjust tax, The Borumean Tribute, to the High King of Ireland. This was an oppressive tax consisting of 5,000 cows, 5,000 hogs, 5,000 sheep, 5,000 vessels of bronze and to cap it off 5,000 ozs of silver! The site has a sad past too as it was used to bury unbaptised children. It is a very spiritual place to drop in to and say a prayer for those poor unfortunate children. 

St Mullins is  one of my favourite cycling destinations and I usually reach it by cycling along the Barrow Way. I have included a route from St Mullins in my book, ‘Cycling South Leinster’ called ‘On the Trail of the Saints’ which starts in St Mullins and visits Inistioge, Graiguenamanagh, Ullard and Borris. St Mullins is also on the longest route in the book, ‘Follow Me Up to Carlow’!

Here is a link to a great local history that i have just come upon: St Mullins a Local History

Clashganny Woods

I have cycled past on numerous occasions but never ventured in to walk the forest loop. The idea was planted in my head by Pete Kearney, husband of my wonderful aunt Madge who both live in Australia. Pete is a great man for long distance walks and on his last visit he walked the South Leinster Way incorporating Clashganny Wood.

New Years Day was the perfect day to head down to Borris and on to Clashganny to stretch the legs and begin a new exercise regime!

It’s a wonderful loop, perched on the steep wooded banks of the Barrow. Every so often there are glimpses of the River and the Lock house at Ballykeenan and also at Clashganny. The woods are here since the 1800s and make for a pretty sight along the Barrow Track. There is a spectacularly located Mass Rock near the entrance to the Loop; how authentic it is I cannot say as the Penal Laws were repealed before this wood was planted.

Looking forward to completing this walk again and maybe incorporating a visit to Clashganny House afterwards!

Bealach Ceatharlach

Here is a route i put together in 2017 with the intention of getting a group together to complete it in 2018. The route is 195kms long, takes in 2,680 metres of climbing, has 45kms off road cycling and most of the rest of it on minor roads, with minimal traffic. It visits many important heritage sites and some of the most beautiful corners of our county:


Here is a link to the map for Bealach Ceatharlach

Here is a link to a video I completed last summer


Barrow and the Blackstairs

Ducketts Grove

At Saint Mullins Lock

%d bloggers like this: