Start/Finish: Cloghane Village
Time: A casual 2-3 hours for each of the Routes-
Classification: Grade 1 for all Routes.
This walk is suitable for all ages. The walks are a mixture of bog road and public road. It is a lovely quiet road, ideal for those who don’t want to encounter any steep slopes. It brings you on a lovely scenic route through bog land, where cutting turf is still the main source of fuel. There are an abundant amount of wild flowers, wild life and bog insects.
Route 1: Bog Road Walk. The walk is sign posted as ‘Siúlóid Loch a Mhónáin’ from just outside Cloghane Village on the eastern side of the village. Take the right turn at this point and follow what is known as the ‘Glen’ or ‘Mullach’ road. Take the first left turn along the bog road also known as ‘The Pilgrim’s Route’. This road can be followed for up to two kilometres and should be followed back the same way.
Natural History: Evidence of turf cutting can be seen along the route. Boglands provide the perfect conditions for flowers, that can only be found in such locations, especially in the summer months.
Route No. 2 Siúloid Mullach Bhéal
Take the Glen road all the way to the back of Mullach Bhéal, approx. 5 km. The first section of this walk is suitable for wheelchair bound people, who can travel to the end of the tarred road. It is possible to turn at the cluster of houses at this point. Alternatively it is possible to follow a green road to the saddle between the hills, and view the western part of the peninsula. At the centre of the lowest point between the hills a cairn of stone is located (marked on the No 70 map). Climbing to the cairn will add up to two hours to your journey. There is some climbing involved in this section, but it is not too severe! Return via the same route.
Local History: The Mullach road was the route taken by Colonel Zouse with a regiment of soldiers on their way to Dún and Óir in 1580. They passed through Gleann Sean Choirp (the glen of the dead body), and out through the saddle in the hills between the Gearán and Cnoc Bhaile Uí She at Mullach Bheal. This pass is still known as ‘Com Aouse’ after the Colonel. Walter Raleigh and the poet Spencer who accompanied him travelled through the Conor Pass region over the mountains to the same destination, and Aodh 0 Neill travelled over Mas an Tíompán through Cuas, to Dún an Oir at the same time.
There are also references to coffins being carried through this route. This would occur when a person who had married into the area from the ‘other side of the hill’, died. The body was often returned to their original home and would be carried by the in-laws to the top of the pass, and from there, the persons kin would take it and carry it home. Apparently there was a dispute at the top of Mullach on one occasion, and they could not agree on who was to carry the coffin to the other side. The body was temporarily buried until it was resolved as to who was going to carry the coffin. A cairn of stone now marks the spot. Those passing by the cairn, are asked to ‘caith cloch ar an leacht’ (throw a stone on the grave)
This route offers wonderful views of the Brandon Range and the Abhainn Mhór Valley, with its lakes and marsh. Loch Geal is said to be inhabited by a ‘wild boar’, who was banished there by St. Brendan. The boar originally guarded a magical oak wood behind Cloghane Village. He is reputed to reappear every seven years and light up the valley.
The village of Mullach was inhabited up until relatively recently. Those who collected folklore in this area often remarked on the richness of the Irish language, and on how content people were to live there. They were almost four miles from Cloghane village.
As one walks along the ‘Glen road’, there is a tradition of a Mass Rock(Carraig An Aifrinn) being located nearby, where mass was celebrated during the Penal Times. The many stones scattered along the foot of the hills are said to have dropped form the apron of a ‘Caillach’ who was walking close by. The Cailleach translates as ‘hag’, or old woman. However in origin, she was undoubtedly one of the goddesses, or a special manifestation of the land goddess.