This loop explores an area associated with Red Hugh O’Donnell – the last Chieftain of Tir Conaill (County Donegal). He was defeated at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601, having led his army along the entire length of Ireland to meet his Spanish allies. Retrace his journey up and around the hill of Knockalough.
A-B. Starting from the forestry entrance, cross the road and climb the stile, following the purple (and green) arrows. The green arrows are for the shorter Red Hugh Loop. The first section of the loop takes you through some fields to exit at a surfaced road where you turn left. Follow the surfaced road to reach the entrance to a farmyard on your right - turn right here.
B-C. Follow the sandy laneway keeping to the right of the shed and continue for about 600m to reach a gateway on your left where you enter a field and ascend. At the top of the field turn right and follow the green hedge to join a wire fence where you turn left and climb again. After 100m (at metal gates) you turn right - crossing a stile and joining a tractor trail alongside forestry. Follow the tractor trail and wire fence to reach a stile entrance to the forestry. Ascend steeply by the edge of the forestry to exit onto an old forest laneway where you turn right (downhill).
C-D. Follow this laneway around the edge of forestry to reach a T-junction with a forestry road where you turn left and, after 100m, right to begin the downhill trek to the trailhead.
D-A. Continue to follow the forestry road downhill (picking up the green loop at a right bend) and on to reach the trailhead.
History of the area
The village of Upperchurch is located near Thurles in Co. Tipperary and is twinned with the neighbouring parish of Drombane for many aspects of life including hurling (a traditional Irish sport played with sticks and ball). The community has been involved for many years in developing tourism products including hillwalking.
Folklore is alive and well in the area – and includes tales of a Robin Hood figure known as Eamonn a Chnoic (Ned of the Hill) who roamed the hills 17/18th century. Eamonn a Chnoic became one of a band of rapparees who championed the cause of the poor and many legends are told of these men and their deeds.