|The Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail - Aughagower to Murrisk|
Trail Surface: Open moor, farmland, country Roads and boreens.
Distance: 19 Km
Duration: 4-6 hours
Start: Community Centre in Aughagower
O/S maps 1:50000: 30
Our walk today features Day Three of the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail Festival walk which was held over the St Patrick's Holiday weekend in March. Today's stage is the final stage and will bring us from the picturesque village of Aughagower to Murrisk at the base of Croagh Patrick. 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 partners 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 arrangements in place to partner up with Western Care for the autumn walk, starting on September 22nd and running until the 24th.
The previous two days of walking have claimed a few casualties so our numbers are fewer, but those who remain have acquired a steely look of determination to complete the trail. Departing from Aughagower, one imagines that the village is waiting patiently to be discovered. Its many monuments such as ancient graveyards, round tower, mediaeval church and holy wells appear in such concentration not to be found throughout the country. Its gaelic name "Achadh Ghodhair" means 'the Plain of the Springs', probably due to the fact that it lies in a hollow and all surrounding lands appear more elevated. One of the monuments still in existence is 'Leaba Phadraig' (St Patrick's Bed) where the saint is reputed to have slept. Pilgrims performed stations between the bed and the holy well, Tobair na nDeachan (the Well of the Deacons) which has now dried up.
Much of today's walk is on quiet country roads and, on a steep hill coming onto the Lankhill crossroad, we were treated to a rare sight of David Hughes displaying the art of country lane bowling. Road bowling is a tradition around Lankhill, introduced by workmen from Antrim who built the railway line into Westport. This sport was further strengthened by men from the rebel county who cut down oak woods in the area. Much of this oak was used in the building of the docks in Liverpool. Slate was also quarried in the locality and some of the oldest houses in Westport are roofed using this product. An industrious area indeed! Lankhill is also the site of a seven foot tall standing stone. On the west face there is across with a "V" shaped ornament beneath it and on the east side is a cross and four concentric circles.
Soon we were passing the famous Boheh stone or "St Patrick's Chair" as it is known locally. In 1991 local historian, Gerry Bracken, discovered a unique event called "The Rolling Sun". During the Spring and Autumn equinox, the evening sun appears to roll down the summit of Croagh Patrick as it is setting. Onward Christian soldiers march, through Brackloon Wood, then Fahburren and up through Deerpark, sharing a short section of the Western Way. From Deerpark to Murrisk, our journeys end, we are treated to a panoramic view of Clew Bay and its many islands of all shapes and sizes. Westport lies contented where land meets sea.