Driving Directions to Trail Head: From Kenmare, take the N71 towards Glengarriff for 14.5 km/ 9 miles. Park just beyond Molly Gallivan’s Visitor Centre on the right.
From Glengarriff, take the N71 towards Kenmare for 14.5 km/ 9 miles. Park just before Molly Gallivan’s Visitor Centre on the left.
Starting point: Molly Gallivan’s Visitor Centre on the N71.
Duration: 1 hr 30mins.
Distance: 6km looped.
Terrain: Laneways, Cross Country, Hill side.
Difficulty: Moderate, footing can be soft on hill surface.
Safety Tips: Bring suitable waterproof foot wear.
Note: Follow the blue markings on the yellow walking poles.Information board available near parking.
Important: This walk is developed by the local community and the kind permission of the land owners. Please stay on marked route and use stile as provided. If for some reason you need to use gates please make sure you close and secure them afterwards. No dogs allowed and please do not litter.
PDF Download: Fionn Mac Cumhaill Loop Walk
From the starting point, follow the blue arrows through the gate at the left of the information board. Note the green arrows are for a shorter loop, and the purple arrows for a longer loop.
As your walk begins through part of Molly Gallivan’s Traditional Farm, take note of the following points of interest:
(A) Peat Bog
About 7000 years ago Ireland was thickly forested across most of the entire country; even highland areas were forested. During the Neolithic Age, the first farmers began to clear the trees and establish farms and settlements. As the Climate became wetter, the soil of these treeless areas became more acidic. Heathers, rushes, and other plants grew in this soil, but their debris did not completely decompose in waterlogged areas and a layer of peat began to build up. This is how peat bogs were formed. In the spring, the wet peat is cut from the bog and laid on the ground to dry out. It is then stacked into stooks so the wind and sun can dry it completely ready for burning. Turf provides good firing and distinctive aroma.
(B) Famine Ruins
This house ruin is the remains of a typical family dwelling of the early 1800’s. Cottages like this were home to as many as twelve family members who lived in extreme poverty as they tried to make a living from their few acres of land. Potatoes were the staple diet of the time, along with pork from the pig and eggs from the fowl.
(C) Neolithic Stone Row
A Stone Row consists of two or more standing stones and is manually arranged in a straight line. They are generally orientated in a north-east/south-west direction and are sometimes found to align with sunrise or sun-set positions on the summer and winter solstice.
Here a stone row, dating from the Neolithic or Early Bronze Age (3000-2000 BC), form an ancient sun calendar and may also have been a place of ritual. See information sign for more details.
Take Note: Before you go over the green stile, have a look at the beautiful Caha Mountains to the west and also the tunnels which go through the mountain on the N71. Molly Gallivan’s Traditional Farm ends here. Carry on over the green stile going right, descending down the hillside which brings you to the main road. As you descend, you have a wonderful view of the Sheen Valley.
Take care crossing the main road. Take a left on the main road then immediately right on to a farm roadway and follow the blue markers. You will reach an iron bridge over Esk Stream. The Esk stream is a tributary which joins the Sheen River
(D) The Iron Bridge
This bridge was built many years ago for local children, so they could cross the river to and from school.
Cross the bridge, turn right and follow the laneway which joins a surfaced roadway. All three looped walks turn right here.
At this point, the loops join with the Beara Way – a long distance walking route around the Beara Peninsula, and marked with the familiar yellow arrows and walking man.At the second Y-junction note that the Beara Way and purple(Cailleach Beara) loop turns left – but you continue straight continue following the blue markers.
Follow the roadway for over 1km, passing a large shed on your right; continue straight on this country road for roughly 2km. (Note the green(Druid’s Walk) loop turns right after shed.)
Continue to follow the blue arrows along the roadway. Keeping right where the purple (Cailleach Beara) loop re-joinsthe blue walk.
At roughly 300 metres along the roadway, you will come to ancient field systems (marked with a white pole).
Field system & peat bogs
To your left, there is a fine example of an ancient field system. The field system dates back thousands of years, constructed by the first farming settlers in the valley.
Due to climate change about 4-5000 years ago, peatlands began to grow, eventually concealing the walls and field systems. When this bog was cut away by the local farmer, the field system was exposed.
These bogs stretching back along the valley, have been used for hundreds of years by local people for the harvesting of peat, locally known as ‘turf’ for fire fuel. During World War II, when coal was very scarce, over 100 local people were employed by the government in these bogs for the export of peat to the cities and to power steam trains.
Follow the road for 500m to cross Esk Stream at a concrete bridge and onward for another 500m to a T-junction with the MAIN ROAD. Turn right and be aware of traffic for the last 200m back to the starting point at Molly Gallivan’s Cottage.