WE set off on the road signposted Duncrone B&B, directly opposite the Round Tower. We will explore the cathedral and tower, major features of interest, on our return.
The wall on our right carries two shield-like iron ties, and supports swathes of purple valerian in summer. Far to the north we see the Knockmealdown Mountains. This road has overgrown ditches with a wealth of wild plants. We pass a high stone wall, probably once bordering a substantial demesne.
After 1km, a cul-de-sac goes left, signposted Goat Island, Beach and Rock Fishing. We can take it as a there-and-back option, a lovely road for walking, straight and generally trafficless adding 3.5km to our route. Views are of Whiting Bay strand ahead and west to Capel Island and Knockadoon Head, a tower on each. Goat Island, a stumpy, grass-topped plateau isolated at high tide, shelters a small, sandy cove, popular in summer. The truncated ruin of a medieval blockhouse stands nearby; A sign on the gate of the fields dividing the cove from Whiting Bay warn against unauthorised entry; the gate pier carries a sign announcing that Goat Island won a 2013 Green Coast Award.
Returning to the main route, we see on the right, the formidable ruins of Ardoginna House, known locally as Ardo Castle, owned by James FitzGerald in 1654, and subsequently by a Sir Francis Prendergast who, fleeing after a false accusation of theft, met his demise hanged on the reins of his horse when it failed to make a jump at Croch an Oidhre (The Heir’s Gibbet). Coghlans, a pre-eminent Waterford family owned Ardoginna in the 18th century. The family fortune dissipated, the widowed mother resorted to smuggling, while one of her beautiful daughters became Lady Barrymore and the other the Duchess de Castries. In 1865, Sir Joseph McKenna, nationalist MP for Youghal, bought Ardoginna. After he and his wife died, the family removed to London leaving it unguarded.
We go left toward Whiting Bay, and steeply down to the T-junction. We may visit the magnificent beach nearby before going right and passing through Ballynamona townland wherein is located a late Neolithic cairn tomb. Reaching the busy R673 at Sluggera Cross Roads, we have to walk only 100m on a wide verge before turning right onto a quiet side road. At the next T junction, we turn left, following an outward route back to our trailhead.
Ardmore Cathedral, now in ruins, was built on the site of St. Declan’s Monastery founded in the 5th century and was recognised as a cathedral in 1170. Described as Romanesque, some features date from the 9th century. The tower (12th century) rises to 97 feet, approx. 30m, its entrance door 4m above the ground, making it a refuge for the monks, their libraries and liturgical vessels. The cathedral’s unusual features include the arcade, a frieze of sculptures on the exterior of the west wall depicting bible stories and images of the Archangel Michael, Adam and Eve, the Adoration of the Magi, and the Judgment of Solomon. A primitive oratory known as “Relig Deglain,” or St. Declan’s Grave, is also on the site. Three inscribed pillar stones, ‘ogham stones’ are within the building. The medieval tombstones set in the nave floor bear cross marks, but no names.
Ardmore is 60km from Cork on the N25 Waterford road. Soon after Youghal, we go right on the R673 signposted Ardmore. We park at the “cathedral” as the monastic settlement encompassing the Round Tower is known. This is our trailhead.
Easy going, almost all on quiet bohreens. Goat Island and Whiting Bay offer seaside stops. Fine photo-opportunities of a ruined historic house. A close look at an important medieval monastery and round tower.
OS Discovery Sheet 82
Sep 21: Rineen Wood, 2-3hrs, 10-12km, meet Rineen Wood car park 10.45am
Sep 21: Hungry Hill, Grade A, meet Square, Kenmare, 9am.
Sep 21: Knocklemealdowns, B, 4-6hrs., meet TSB car park, Dungarvan, 10am.
Sep 21: Red Barn, Youghal, C, 3hrs., meet TSB car park, Dungarvan, 1pm.
Sep 18 — 21
Sep 19: Kilrossanty, Guided Sunset Walk, meet Kilrossanty Church car park, 5pm. Fee €10
Sep 19: Portlaw Heritage Walk. Meet Portlaw Heritage Centre, 7pm.
Sep 20: Kilmacthomas Wildlife Walk, meet Crough Wood, 11am
Sep 20: Curraghmore House and Gardens tours, Portlaw. Meet Curraghmore House 11am and 2pm.
Sep 20: Copper Coast Mining Trail. Meet Cooper Coast, 12 noon.
Sep 20: Rathgormack Harvest Walk, meet Walking Centre, 7pm.