Situated in the south west of Ireland, on the borders of counties Limerick, Tipperary and Cork, Ballyhoura is an area of undulating green pastures, woodlands, hills and mountains. The area has vibrant towns and villages, but is the perfect place to get off the beaten track and discover rural Ireland.
The area is a most sociable place to stop over, the visitor can experience ancient Irish heritage, outdoor activities, cultural encounters and gourmet surprises. Ballyhoura is a walker’s paradise offering the beauty and tranquility of quiet country roads, riverbanks, rugged mountains, rich bogs and mythical landscapes. This loop owes its name to Canon Patrick Augustine Sheehan (1852-1913) a cleric and writer invariably referred to as Canon Sheehan of Doneraile, mainly because he wrote almost all of his major works while he was there as Parish Priest. In 1905 he published Glenanaar, a novel based on the 1829 conspiracy trials in which Daniel O’Connell successfully defended peasants accused of agrarian crimes.
A-B. Starting from Glenanaar Forest car park, follow the arrows towards the forestry. After 300 metres you will reach a metal bridge, from where the loop proper begins.
B-C. Follow the loop along the left bank of the Ogeen River. Enjoy the natural woodlands, watch out for the natural well and be amazed in May time by the haze of bluebells in their thousands. At the end of the riverbank section you join a forestry road where you turn right.
C-D. Follow the forestry road for almost 1km and then cross the river by way of a footbridge and follow the loop along glorious woodland paths. As the river marks the county boundary, you have just passed from County Cork into County Limerick. Enjoy the moment, a few hundred metres takes you across another footbridge and back into Cork again! Shortly afterwards the loop joins a forestry road.
D-E. Follow the forestry road southwards through Glenanaar Forest to pass a fine example of a mass rock, well preserved and still used on occasions today.
E-F. Shortly after the mass rock, the loop reaches a T-junction where it turns left and takes you eastward through Ballintlea, with fine views of the Blackwater Valley and the Nagle and Knockmealdown Mountains. On a left bend, watch out for a woodland track on your right, follow this track downhill to regain the footbridge you passed on the outward journey.
F-A. Turn right, cross the footbridge and enjoy the remaining 300 metres back to the trailhead.