Amenities of the Area
THE PLACE AND THE PEOPLE . .
CLOUOGHBAWN AND ITS SCHOOL
It was a fine autumn morning, 1817 or 1818, as a couple of school-fellows and myself were descending the steep way that leads from the village of Courtncuddy down to the bridge of Och-na-Goppal, and thence up the shady road to the cross of Colaght.
How gladly would I look again on the view we had then before us unnoticed and unregarded! On the river banks, beyond the bridge, rose lofty oak, ash, and elm trees, with the sunbeams streaming through the foliage on the rich meadows and the surface of the river ; above these lay the spacious garden and ivy-covered ruins of the old castle, and on the high grove-girt lawn to their right stood the modern house of Castleboro.
Straight before us, on the castle side of the shady road beyond the bridge, was the large park or field called Glaninuin, and to the left spread thorn-fenced meadows, stretching away to the delightful old farm-house of Mr. Dick Greene, one of our strong gentlemen-farmers. On the severest winter morning the sight of that sunny road, sheltered by its skirting fir-belt, would give us a feeling of comfort as we came down towards the bridge, running at a brisk pace to keep ourselves warm.
Still to the west beyond, and to the right of the castle, lay the townlands of Rathnure, Coolbawn, and Forrestalstown; and on the horizon stretched the White Mountain ridge and the eminence of Cahir Ruas Den and on the extreme right of the lofty rugged mass of the Blackstairs.
At the upper or western end of this sunny road it meets the Colaght one which runs south and north through Lord Carew's demesne, with trees as thick as they can grow on each side.
We take the left or southern branch, and leaving on our left hand Mr Dick Greens orchard and the rustic avenue leading down to his house, and on our right Mr Watt Greens large slated house and orchard, we cross the brook of Cloughbawn and climb the little eminence to the school: we have been joined by the youngest of Mr Greens family at his gate, dear little Becky, and Richard and Martha
In former years our hours of instruction were spent in the chapel, up the shady lane on our left. The school was a thoroughly-attended one - the pupils varying in age from six to twenty years. Instances of immodest speech or action were very rare, the master being absent or present; and during my sojourn there for years there was no boxing match to my knowledge; yet I never think of our daily use of the chapel for a school without a feeling of annoyance.
So though I often felt elated when deliveing the speech of Brutus or that of Anthony from the altar steps, and recollect many happy days spent in the gallery, or on the shaded grassy terraces of its yard, I turn with more pleasure to the secular building which fitted our profane and worldly studies much better.
We are among the first comers and immediately begin to rehearse. By and by Mr O'Neill enters, gives us a cordial good morning proceeds to hear off the lessons got out of school, and the Misses Greene repeat their French dialogues.
In the Footsteps of Patrick Kennedy
In the opening paragraphs of his work Kennedy describes his walk to school at Cloughbawn in the year 1817 or 1818. We can now walk this same road in the closing days of the twentieth century and view the constants and the changes that have taken place.
We can start in the Village of Clonroche and walk 1.6 miles east on the N30 to Beaufield cross. Follow the signpost for Courtnacuddy and walk one mile to the T Junction. We turn left, pass the old school house on our left and onto the 'Quarry Hill'. It's from here Kennedy takes his view of the lofty oaks, the rich meadows and the surface of the river. The 'modern house of Castleboro', built forty-two years before, was burned in 1846 and rebuilt on the same site. This building we can clearly see against the backdrop of the Blackstairs mountains. This building was maliciously burned in 1923. Looking carefully to it's right you can still see the ivy-covered ruins of the old castle and the walls surrounding the now disused garden
We walk to the cross roads at the bottom of the hill and cross the junction on to Och-na-Goppel bridge, still here from Kennedys time. It is said Carew had horses waiting at this spot for King James II when he fled from the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The King gave Carew a set of gold cuff links which remained in the family for centuries afterwards. Looking to the side of the bridge against the flow of the river we can see the 'Grand Lodge', which marks the 'new' entrance to Castleboro built c 1847
Moving off the bridge the tree lined road is still in existence with probably the same oaks that sheltered Kennedy and his pals as they passed by. Walking up the 'Green Lane' we come to the 'Cross of Coolaught'. The house across the road was certainly there in Kennedys time but the Castleboro Gate Lodge was not. We have walked a distance of 1.5 miles from Courtnacuddy.
We turn left on the cross towards Clonroche and appox. 200 yards on this road we see Dick Greene's farm (now Deacons) on our left. Walking a further 0.5 miles we see Watt Greene's house. The long avenue and original house where Kennedy was joined by little Beckey at the gate still remains as it was then.
Further on we cross Cloughbawn Bridge and on the left, the 'Chapel Lane' or as Kennedy describes it 'shady lane leading to the school. The chapel that Kennedy describes was the Catholic church the remains of which are in the present Parish Priests' yard. The later 'secular' school where Kennedy felt more at ease was built a little further up the lane on the left before the modern dwelling house.
As described the education was classical in the school, which had two class rooms. The Master was Hugh O'Neill the father of Daniel O'Neill, of the Pitsburg Dispatch fame and mentioned elsewhere on this site. A Mister Wiseman also taught in the school.
The 'Banks of the Boro' was reprinted some years ago by Duffery Press and copies are available from the local library.
This walk is approx four miles and will take approx two hours at a leisurely pace
Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs are a ridge of rounded granite peaks lying between the beautiful Barrow valley and the rich lowlands of Wexford, a halfway stop between the Wicklow Mountains and the sandstone ranges of the South East, Comeraghs, Galtees and Knockmealdowns. They suffer from undeserved neglect just because they are halfway between better known nighbours.
For me the region has great attractions. Firstly, it has variety. There is every-thing from the big long walk right along the ridge to pleasant strolls in the woods and valleys, though these too offer sudden views over the countryside.
The second attraction is, precisely because the region has been neglected by walkers, it isn't overcrowded. If you meet people, they will probably be local people whom you will find friendly and helpful.
Finally, with each walk, there is a great variety of birds, butterflies and flowers to be seen here.
Now for some practicalities. You may well be far away from Mount Leinster when you read this report - how do you get there? Well, I have to admit that a car is the the most useful form of transport. If you haven't a car, a bicycle will get you to the starting points of most of the walks without serious exhaustion.
The sketch maps will get you round the walks, but if you like to know where you are, and to pick out the more distant views, then you will need the Ordnance Survey map Sheet 19, which will also be very useful in getting you to the start of each walk.
When you look at the OS map, or at mine, remember that all the woods are plantations, and what looks like fine forest on the map may be felled by the time you get there, or open areas may be planted. On the higher walks, such as 2,4,6,8,9,10, do take a compass. The cloud can come down, and it is very difficult to keep direction without a compass. You don't need any sophisticated navigation techniques, just enough (on Walk 9 for example) to know that you are heading generally south and east, not north or west!
I have given a distance, a height, and a walking time for each walk. These are based on 4km/2.5miles per hour, and an extra 15 minutes for each I00m/330ft of ascent. When I say walking time, I mean just that. Add on for photography, for picnics or other long halts.
The walks are on public roads, boreens, forests or the open hillside; you should not be crossing farmers fields anywhere. Remember that the open hillside is sheep country from which someone is making a living, so please do not take dogs on the hill. And to state the obvious, don't light fires in or near the forests!
In the very unlikely event of an accident, get to a phone box, dial 999 and ask for Mountain Rescue.
This is just the introduction to ten great walks in the Blackstairs by Joss Lynam and published by The Friends of Mount Leinster.
Here is a short walk based on Kiltealy, on the east side of the mountains, and nine miles from Clonroche There is quite a lot of road, but it also climbs Cultentragh, an outlier of Blackstairs Mountain with a good view The section on the hill is quite rough, so good·footware is essential - don't wear high heels! It would be tricky in mist unless you can use a compass.
Distance:7.5km/4.5miles Height: 270m/900ft. Time; 2.5 hours.
Distance:4km/'2.5miles. Height: 230ml750ft. Time 1.75 hours.
The start is in Kiltealy village. Go towards the Sculloge Gap from the village on the R702 for 0.8km/0.5/miles to a Y-junction, where you bear left, leaving the main road. Your road is now on the south side of the valley while the main road takes to the north side.
Very shortly you pass a junction on the left, after which the road levels out. About O.6kmlO.4 miles further on is a forest entrance on the left. The forest road crosses open ground, but when it actually reaches the trees you leave it and turn right along the edge of the wood.
At the corner you turn left and climb up the edge of the wood to open ground. Keep going in the same direction up the rough slope, and you will reach the summit of Cullentragh 403m/132 ft. "summit" is rather a pretentious name for it; the ground slopes so gently away that, to the west, it is almost imperceptible. Nevertheless, it is a good viewpoint, high enough for you to admire Mount Leinster to the north, to overlook the prosperous farms of Wexford to the east, and to spy the Barrow valley to the west through the V of the Sculloge Gap.
For your descent, take a good look at the L-shaped forest below you. Your ascent was up the end of the foot of the L; your descent is just at the head of its stem, quite near the Askinvillar stream. Walk downhill aiming roughly for the end of the wood, and as you get nearer you will see a track through the trees. This goes down through the wood, and then turns left along an old rather rough track which follows the lower edge of the forest to join a surfaced road at a sharp comer.
Now if you only wanted a really short walk and a breath of hill air, you could have driven to the forest entrance and parked there; if you did, then go to the left along the road, turn left at the Junction, and your car isn't far away.
It would however be a pity not to include the walk back to Kiltealy from here. To do this, you turn sharp right and go quite steeply down a pleasant lane between high banks and hedges. You come to the village of Cullentragh, which sadly seems to have been almost abandoned.
Lovely small houses and cottages, but mostly empty. The lane makes a Z-bend (should I call this the alphabet walk?) and brings you out to the R730 about 0.8km/0.5miles from Kiltealy. Turn left, and follow the road to the village
Seamus Dunne is the first qualified pilot & instructor from the village of Clonroche. Seamus began his interest in flying by building and flying radio controlled models.
He then joined the Wexford Aero Club at Castlebridge, a now defunct entity, and under the instruction of John O'Loughlin obtained his PPL.
Encouraged by John O'Loughlin, Bourke Corbett and other senior members of the club he went on to take the instructors course which he completed with flying colours.
When Wexford Aero club closed down he joined the Waterford Aero Club and is now acting as one of it's senior instructors.
If you are a 'flyer' and you are visiting the Wexford area contact Seamus at 353-54-44323. Fax 353 54 44323
The aircraft above is a Beechcraft Skipper 77, one of only two in Europe, powered by a Avco Lycoming engine with an average cruse speed of 95 knots