Slieve Bloom Mountains
Slieve Bloom Mountains: Mountrath to Birr Castle via Kinnity
The Slieve Bloom, along with the Massif Central in France are the oldest mountains in Europe; they were once also the highest at 3,700m. Weathering has reduced them to 527m. They offer mysterious glens, rivers and waterfalls, historic sites, villages and festivals. They are a walker's paradise with numerous way-marked walks. From Mount Arderin (the top of Ireland) one can see the high points of the four ancient provinces of Ireland. Mountrath to Kinnity (R440) takes you across the summit plateau of blanket bog of heather and wild life, with views looking west to the river Shannon, and glaciated valleys, now planted with conifers. The descent to Kinnity is dotted with relics of former grandeur. Visit Kinnitv Castle, an important centre in Irish history.
The alternative route, via Rosenallis, will allow you to visit Glenbarrow, source of the river Barrow with an enchanting waterfall that opens a window onto a very ancient geological past. Walk on the Old Red Sandstone of the riverbed and discover the fossilised sand ripples formed by wind in desert conditions, and the fossilised mud cracks belonging to a Devonian lake, which existed here two hundred million years ago. The very high bank (30m) across the river is a moraine left by the Ice Age. The meandering river valley is filled with birds singing, tall trees and wild flowers, a little oasis of nature. Clonaslee is a typical Slieve Bloom Village. Full of myth, legend and history. Birr Castle and Gardens - home of the Earl of Ross, the Parsons family since 1620, is a real gem. It is a centre of science and technology famous for the world's largest telescope built in 1840's, but equally marvellous for its gardens. They are the largest in the country and have been developed over generations. They feature thousands of trees and plants propagated from seeds collected from all over the world. We are fortunate to have such an unspoiled county with such a long history full of nostalgia and unobtrusive beauty. Dine out this evening and philosophise over a glass of wine.
"Such a beautiful house, I hate to leave. Thank you for the friendship and lovely food."
Anna Manahan, Waterford