I’ve been slowly chipping away at cycling the proposed pilgrimage route from The Nine Stones on the slopes of Mount Leinster stretching all the way to Bobbio in Italy.
Over the past few months I’ve been doing small sections of the route and I’m really excited about it.
The route will be very varied between Carlow and Bangor in County Down.
Starting with brilliant downhill from Mount Leinster, the route continues along the side of The Barrow Way to Athy and onwards along the Grand Canal and the Royal Canal, through the rich agricultural lands of Royal Meath. That’s as far as I have got so far, I’ve covered over 200kms of the route (but actually done over 320kms as I have to back track to the car each stage).
Here’s a clip of some of the wonders of Ireland’s Ancient East and Turas Columbanus.
I’m blown over by the Hill of Tara. There is something really special about this place; the inauguration seat of Irish High Kings, the place where St. Patrick challenged the ancient religions, a place stretching back to prehistory….. I will post more later!
An Bord Pleanála have refused permission for the controversial Barrow Blueway. Waterways Ireland have been unsuccessful in their attempt to overturn the decision of Carlow County Council.
The Barrow Track is a narrow green corridor that stretches from Athy to St Mullins., much of it is an area of special conservation. You could say it our National Park.
The proposal was very controversial and was debated passionately on both sides of the argument.
In an era where the checks and balances of democracies are under threat this was a great example of democracy at work. Those checks and balances functioned and I think the proposal received a fair hearing before a decision was arrived at.
There was never any need for the vitriol that polluted so much of social media commentary around the issue; the argument had to stand or fall on its merits and it did.
I don’t believe any of the opponents of the Blueway were anti-development rather they were pro the right development. We all want to promote our County, grow tourism, create jobs and livelihoods and the development of the river should not now be ignored. Let a new inclusive process begin and create an acceptable solution.
The Western Greenway and the Waterford Greenway are the two most successful in the country, there are others that have not achieved the same traction. Both these Greenways took many years to plan and become ‘an overnight success’.
Both are along the route of old disused railway lines. Guess what? We have a disused railway line running almost parallel to the River Barrow. If they can be brought into use elsewhere surely the same can happen here….
Here are some of my favourite photos taken on my many spins along the Barrow Way over the past few years.
Behind stately Dunleckney House lies the ruins of Dunleckney Parich Church and Graveyard.
I was passing this way today and finally got to visit this fascinating holy ground. With associations stretching back to Strongbow and the Knights Templar the ruins and graveyard are very atmospheric and historic and you could spend the day reading the ancient tombstones – the oldest dated 1692! The graves of the Bagenal and Newton families are located in a separate plot with both Catholic and Protestant graves scattered in this wooded graveyard.
If Ireland’s Ancient East takes off as well as the Wild Atlantic Way, there won’t be room to move around the ancient heartlands! Sure it includes the obvious and it is no surprise that it misses the many delights of Carlow, Kildare and Laois.
We’ve known for a long time that the tourist maps show a black hole that is remarkably similar in shape to County Carlow!
If we are to be promoted we will have to do it ourselves.
Important historical sites are literally around every bend in the road here in Ireland’s Ancient East. I had a splendid cycle from Timahoe around by the Windy Gap, over to the Rock of Dunamaise and back to Tigh Mochua.
The view at the Windy Gap is surely as fine a panoramic view as any in the country and what better way to see it than on the bike.
We have a network of traffic free rural roads that are just perfect fro cycle touring and day trips.
Instead of using the main road from the Gap, I chanced the lane way to the left of the road and it brought me safely into the Sráid Bhaile.
On the backroads from Timahoe I chanced upon the great Noel Ramsbottom, 84 years young, on his daily 4 mile run! A marvellous big hearted gentleman, full of knowledge and wisdom. We don’t make them like Noel anymore!