Offaly: In the footsteps of O’Neill’s 1601 army

Slieve Bloom Way: Paul’s lane loop, Cadamstown, Co Offaly
Start point: Cadamstown is on the R422 about 8km south of the N52 at Kilcormac.

BOTH this loop, and the Nature Walk, take us along an old coach road and then, via an old laneway and forestry tracks, to the weir on the Silver River south of Cadamstown. We return along the lovely riverbank to the start.

The lands around Cadamstown were originally in the ownership of the O’Flanagan clan of Cinel Arga but were granted to Adam, Viscount Loftus of Ely, during the plantation of Offaly in the 17th century and it is likely that the name Cadamstown was coined as a result.

St Lugna’s monastery south of the village was important in early Christian times. Now in ruins, it was convenient to the Slí Dhála, an important ancient road across Ireland. The nearby section at Letterluna is called the Munster Road locally. St. Lugna’s Holy Well is nearby. The water was thought to have been efficacious in curing eye disease.

The course of the Silver River, of great interest to geologists, runs through the village. From late medieval times its strong current was exploited for milling grain. The original mill was built in 1600, updated through the centuries, and rebuilt in 1831. It was closed in 1922. In the riverbed alongside an early millstone of local sandstone lies half-finished. Later, quartz stones were imported from France.

A tall, medieval bridge, now preserved as National Heritage, stands a short distance downstream from the mill. Hugh O’Neill and his army crossed it in 1601 on his ill-fated march to Kinsale, and camped above the village.


The Paul’s Lane Loop begins and ends at the car park in Cadamstown. We turn right onto what was the Coach Road passing to the right of Dempsey’s pub, once a stopping place for stage coaches.

Following the blue arrows, after about 1km we turn into a laneway on the right, Paul’s Lane, ascending gently between hedges which may be very old.

After a kilometre, we exit at a gateway near a group of derelict houses, once the village of Bordingstown. Just beyond it, we turn right and follow the blue arrows downhill on an old lane. We follow this and pass through a gate. Veering right just afterwards, we reach a kissing gate, the access to an old Mass path and so called because such gates are in a U- or V-shaped enclosure and touch (kiss) each of two gateposts, allowing one person at a time to pass through.

We don’t go through the gate but continue downhill to a small stream called Purcell’s Brook where we join the Slieve Bloom Way (yellow arrows) and Nature Trail Loop (green arrows) for the remainder of the loop. After following the lane downhill, we come to another gate at the weir on the Silver River, a lovely spot where one could while away an hour watching the flow of the water, the dragon flies hawking, and brown trout, for which the river is noted, moving in the flow of the stream.

Moving on, we go right and, after crossing a stile, set off along the river bank. For naturalists, the mossy trees, the mixed woodland, with jays and tree-creepers, the river life — dippers are regularly seen, and kingfishers, if we are lucky — the dappled light on the path and the light striking the water will be memorable. The river has cut deeply into the bedrock of Old Red Sandstone which can be seen along its course above and below the village. The gorge is a lexicon of geology; a Silver River Geology Walk may be found by consulting the Shannon Region Trails website. On this northern bank, we follow the downward course of the fast-flowing river for a kilometre. Climbing over a wooden stile, we cross farmland before our route merges with a farm boreen. After 200m downhill we reach a concrete stile, and emerge on the old coach road.


Start point: Cadamstown is on the R422 about 8km south of the N52 at Kilcormac. .

Time: 2hrs to 2.5hrs. Although amateur naturalists and geologists, may take a lot longer. On a good day, the weir makes an ideal picnic spot.


Moderate. The first one-third of the route ascends gently from the 170m contour to approximately 257m and then descends to the starting point.

Map: OS No 54 (Grid ref. 227086)



Aug 29: Forest Track, meet Christ the King statue, Aherlow, 7pm


Sept 1: Keeper Hill-Sliabh Coimealta, stunning views over the Silvermines and Arra mts., meet in The Square, Newport, 9.30am


Sept 2: Wolftrap, Glenregan, Glenbarrow, Grade B, 3 hrs. meet at The Cut, 11 am.


Sept 2: Cummmeengira Horseshoe, meet Square Kenmare, 10am.

BRAY STROLLERS HILLWALKING CLUB: Sunday Walks are suitable for beginners. The walks are for 3 ½ to 4 hours long. The meeting point is Bray Dart Station,10.30 am where car pooling is arranged. Other walks Saturdays and Tuesdays. info

Cork Walking Month:

* Click here to see the Cadamstown Walk of the week map

* Map Copyright: Ordnance Survey Ireland/Government of Ireland. Copyright Permit No. MP 0006512


I wish I could write us all back in time, when we could pop to the shops without fear, when grandparents did not have to wave through a window at their grandchildren.Michelle Darmody: Recipes with simple ingredients

It’s not always possible to produce enough vitamin D through sun exposure. Fortified foods are an option but you need to choosecarefully, says Clodagh FinnCovid-19 lockdown mean you're not getting enough Vitamin D?

More From The Irish Examiner