Rothar Routes

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

Posts from the ‘South Leinster Cycle Routes’ category

The Hidden Sky Road

Delighted to see Carlow County Council have signposted one of my routes, ‘The Hidden Sky Road’ which features in my book ‘Cycling South Leinster, Great Road Routes’.

Its a beautiful route to complete on a summers evening at just 37kms length featuring a small climb with stunning views across County Carlow.

The route begins in Borris, passing alongside the Mountain River and out of the village under the Viaduct, heading towards Rathanna.

Borris Viaduct with Mary

Wouldn’t it make a great section of a Greenway?

 

The Mountain River

The Mountain River is my favourite river in the County; wild with contrasting colours of brown, gold, yellow and green. Crystal clear water.

Quiet roads with lots of great vantage points to see the Blackstairs Mountains and Mount Leinster as you head east. There are lots of little known gems to stop off and and explore along the way.

With a little searching there are a couple of examples of rock art on the route (you will need permission to access) at Spahill and Coolasnaughta.

Spahill Rock Art

Coolasnaughta Rock Art

Carlow has a brilliant network of local roads that are virtually traffic free and ideal for cycling

Quiet Country Lanes near Rathanna

Views on The Hidden Sky Road

 

Tomduff

There are lots of heritage sites dotted across the county and some worth visiting close to the route not far from Tomduff Cross are

The White Church, Killoughternane

 

Rathnageeragh Castle

St Forthcern’s Well

Templemoling Cemetery

But the best views are from on high along The Hidden Sky Road

The Hidden Sky Road

View from The Hidden Sky Road

Blackstairs Horses in the Morning Mist

Wild horses Blackstairs

The Adelaide Memorial Church of Christ The Redeemer in Myshall is an architectural masterpiece. Worth a visit on its own. There’s a great love story about its construction which was built to commemorate the saughter oand wife of a visiting English man. His daughter had been thrown from a horse while riding and died from the fall. The full story can be read in the Myshall and Drumphea Parish website

Adelaide Church Myshall

Ballynasillogue Banshee Stone is a little off the trail but worth checking out. Incidentally I would advise bringing a good map along with you on any of these routes; the best map by far is actually produced in Carlow by East West Mapping of Clonegal – ‘Blackstairs, Mount Leinster & The Barrow Valley at 1: 25,000 scale, it is full of so much detail and local knowledge.

Ballynasillogue Dolmen

It may be just a small corner of the county but as you can see there’s plenty to look out for and it might take a few trips to visit them all.

Finish up back in Old World Borris and a visit to two of Carlow’s iconic pubs

Joyce’s Bar Borris

 

O Sheas Borris

 

Dolmens!

Haroldstown Dolmen, Hacketstown Road, Carlow.

There are over 160 Dolmens scattered across the country and there are some great examples in Carlow or close by worth visiting. Haroldstown Dolmen adjacent to the River Slaney is my favourite; it stands proud just off the Hacketstown Road and is an iconic sight on that road.

It featured as the cover photo of Robert Kee’s ‘Ireland: A History’, a book of the TV series that explained Irish History to the English (should be compulsory reading in Westminster).

 

Closer to Carlow Town (and also on the Hacketstown Road!) we can lay claim to the largest Dolmen in Europe with the Browneshill Dolmen. The extraordinary capstone weights in at an estimated 100 plus tons! It rests on two portal stones which flank a door stone and slopes downwards to the west where it rests on a low boulder. It attracts a lot of interest by tourists. What do these massive structures represent? No one can say for sure but they are thought to be possible burial sites or religious sites that were erected over 2500 BC.

Browneshill Dolmen, Hacketstown Road, Carlow.

Down south Carlow there are a further two Dolmens that I am aware of. The first is ‘The Banshee Stone’ at Ballynasilloge, near Borris. Hard to locate and the area is overgrown but worth the effort.

Ballynasillogue Dolmen – ‘The Banshee Stone’.

Kilgraney Dolmen sits in a lovely hollow, close to a babbling stream. It isn’t quite siting on the portal stones but is nonetheless a good example of a portal tomb.

Kilgraney Portal Tomb

These Dolmens have many colloquial names such as Diarmuid and Gráinne Beds, Leabas, Cromleachs and are not unique to Ireland. They are also to be seen in the UK and in France.

 

The tallest Dolmen in Ireland is in south Killkenny and I came on it while completing one of my cycle routes in ‘Cycling South Leinster’. Called  The Leac an Scail, it is Ireland’s tallest dolmen at 5 meters high

Leach an Scail Dolmen, County Kilkenny

Haroldstown

 

 

Haroldstown

Heritage Week!

August 18 – Aug 26 is Heritage Week. There are thousands of events across the country and there a number in county Carlow too.

I never cease to be amazed by the number of heritage sites in the Count y, many are obscure, hidden away, little is known about them but they are important links with our past. Heritage Week is an opportunity to get out and about and maybe locate some of them and explore your local area.

During the year I visited quite an mont of sites and I have showcased them on the video below:

I hope to put up another post later in the week of other places of interest.

The Pattern at St Mullins

Pilgrimage is back in fashion.Over 300,000 obtained the Credencial upon completion of the Camino Santiago in 2017, the ancient pilgrimage routes across Spain to the tomb of St James.

 

 

Old pilgrimage routes are being revived across Europe as people try to find a greater meaning in life or maybe just go for a long walk!

The Pattern at St Mullins is a 1300 hundred year old tradition linked to St Moling and St James. It is linked ot St James because the date is set on the Sunday before July 25th, the feast day of St James.I wonder was it ever a starting point for the Camino?

Each year thousands gather here to commemorate St Moling and to visit the graves of this picturesque graveyard and monastic site. The pilgrimage starts with the blessing of the water of the well with pilgrims drinking the water which reputedly has been responsible for many cures down the centuries. The water from the well flows through the mill race that Moling dug out over a period of 7 years Mass is then celebrated at the penal altar in the centre of the graveyard. During the time of the Penal Laws, celebration of mass was outlawed and had to be celebrated in secret and a lookout would have been placed on the nearby motte.

St Moling has attracted pilgrims here for hundreds of years to the monastery he founded in the 7th century; it is Carlow’s Clonmacnoise – the Book of Moling can be seen ion Trinity College, Dublin alongside the more famous Book of Kells.

The graveyard holds many famous remains, from St Moling himself, to Art Kavanagh, King of Leinster who was buried here in 1417 having been poisoned in New Ross. There are many graves associated with 1798 including General Thomas Cloney who died at the age of 24.

With the revival in pilgrimage across Europe, there is surely great scope to develop a Carlow pilgrimage route considering the number of really ancient and important ecclesiastical sites across the county associated with St Moling, Columbanus, St Fiacre, St Laserian and others.

Well worth a visit.

Standing Stones of County Carlow

In a week where significant new archaeological finds have been made in Newgrange i thought it appropriate to post this.

The words of Clannad’s hauntingly beautiful ‘Newgrange’ always come to mind when I pass the many examples of Standing Stones, (also known as Gallauns or Menhirs), that dot our little County: ‘The druids lived here once they said, forgotten is the race that no one knows…’. What these stones represent is lost in time.

A legacy of the Celts, they remain a mystery to us today – were they markers of some sort, burial or ritual sites?

100 Rathglass Ogham Stone

I have numbered the photos to identify them according to their listing in the brilliant ‘Archaeological Inventory of County Carlow. Two of these cary ogham inscriptions; ogham being an early form of writing consisting of lines and notches carved into stone and represent the oldest form of writing in Ireland.

They are an important part of our heritage and we are indebted to the landowners who have protected them and maintain that link with an ancient and mysterious celtic past.

100 Rathglass Standing Stones. A pair of standing stones

515 Patrickswell Ogham Stone

105 Williamstown Gallaun Standing Stone

104 Tombeagh Standing Stone

101 Tankardstown Standing Stone

98 Rathgeran Standing Stone

97 Leighlinbridge Standing Stone

87 Craans Ardattin Standing Stone

81 B Ballyellin & Tomdarragh Standing Stone. I spotted this in a garden – not sure it is authentic!

81 Ballyellin & Tomdarragh Standing Stone

79 Ardristan Standing Stone

78 Aghade Holed Stone 2018-04-15

78 Aghade Cloch a Phoill

 

 

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