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. This loop explores an area which is associated with Red Hugh O’Donnell – the last Chieftain of Tir Conaill (County Donegal). Born in 1572, Red Hugh is famed for his imprisonment in Dublin Castle in 1587 and escape attempts in 1591 and 1592. Red Hugh had a crucial role in battles like the Battle of the Yellow Ford (1598) and the Battle of the Curlews (1599). But he was ultimately defeated at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601, having led his army along practically the entire length of Ireland, often covering over 40 miles a day, to meet his Spanish allies. This loop retraces some of his journey around the hill of Knockalough.
A-B. Starting from the forestry entrance, cross the road and climb the stile, following the green (and purple) arrows. The purple arrows are for the longer Knockalough 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) the purple loop turns right. You continue straight here passing through the metal gate and uphill to join a forestry road (and rejoin the purple loop for the return to the trailhead). Turn left here.
C-A. Continue to follow the green and purple arrows along the forestry roadway to reach the trailhead.