The Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail - Ballintubber to Aughagower Print

Trail Surface: Forest Tracks, farmland, country Roads and boreens.

Difficulty: Hard

Distance: 25.5 Km

Duration: 6-8 hours

Start: Car park in Ballintubber

O/S maps 1:50000: 31, 38


Our walk today features Day Two of the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail Festival walk which was held over the St Patrick's Holiday weekend in March. Today's stage will bring us from Ballintubber Abbey to the picturesque village of Aughagower. The bi-annual festival is organised each year by the hard working Clogher Environmental Group and attracts in the region of 70 to 100 walkers to the area. The environmental group partner with a worthy charity to help raise funds and increase the profile of the walk. Mayo Roscommon Hospice is the charity for today's walk and there are plans in place to partner up with Western Care for the autumn walk.

As we depart from Ballintubber Abbey, the excitement among the walkers is clearly audible in the crisp morning air as they swap stories and experiences from the previous day's trek. The Abbey itself was founded in 1216 by Cathal Crovderg O'Connor and is an important sacred Irish historical site. The abbey has suffered a turbulent history through suppression and fire however and as poet Cecil Day Lewis wrote, "it refused to die," and worship continued. Today, Ballintubber is recognised as the country's only royal abbey that has been in continuous use down the generations and is currently celebrating its 800 year anniversary. Tioboid na Loing, a son of Granuaile is actually buried in the sacristy.


Ballintubber Abbey


Our first meal break is in the little village of Killawalla located in the foothills of the Partry Mountains. Killawalla is an Anglicisation of the gaelic "Coill a Bhaile" meaning "wood of the road or pass". During penal times "Sean na Sagart" was a legendary priest hunter who frequented these areas. He received a large bounty for each priest's head he collected and then he tossed these heads into a lake nearby called Loch na gCeann.  He is buried in Ballintubber Abbey where an ash tree marks his grave. He is buried facing north where the sun never rises. This is in contrast to the other graves in the graveyard that face the east and the rising sun.

From Killawalla we journey through the town land of Bellaburke and then on to the Aille River and its famous caves.  In 2008, A Polish cave explorer named Artur Kozlowski reached 103 metres (338ft) below ground here. This surpassed the previous British/Irish record of 90 metres attributed to Britain's deepest cave, Wookey Hole, in the Mendip Hills in Somerset. Then, as we ascended the long slow drag up Teevenish Hill through closed in Coillte forestry, the conversations stopped and all eyes searched for the inevitable clearing at the summit. The hard walking paid off, however, as the view from this top is a joy to behold. The sun was setting in the west, silhouetting Croagh Patrick, whilst Aughagower, nestling in the valley with its famous round tower, was soaking up the last rays of the evening sun. Classic!


Emerging from the undergrowth on Teeveenish Hill









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