WE set off from Bridebridge, a stone bridge of four arches crossing the River Bride, a lovely river with good trout and coarse fishing; facilities for disabled anglers are in place alongside. With these on our right, we head up the road toward Castlelyons; a pavement follows the right hand side. St Nicholas’ church is down a driveway to the right. In the cemetery, is a Celtic cross marking the grave of tAthair Peadar Ó Laoighre, parish priest of Castlelyons from 1890 until his death in 1920, with a headstone carved in fine Irish script. Widely known, he was prominent in the Gaelic League and a prolific writer and pamphleteer promoting the “Irish of the people”, especially the local dialect of ‘Cork Irish’, then still in common use, rather than a revival of the old forms. Amongst his works is an abridged translation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote into Irish.
After 400m we come to a junction, and turn right and then, immediately left, walking up Castlelyons village street to the ruins of a Franciscan Abbey on our right. Founded in 1307, the classic arched door and window in the facade are elegant and beautiful. A plaque in the street wall in front commemorates James B Maye, Esq., who “...took a leading part in many a hard fought battle for the restoration of the... liberties of our poor country... for which he suffered terms of imprisonment and innumerable torments in the county jails of Cork and Waterfor...” He died in 1899, aged 44.
Our walk turns down the road directly opposite the abbey, beside the Abbey Bar. We cross the Shanowennadrimina Stream at the Old School Bridge, with a park on our left and take the next right, marked Church Lane. We follow this leafy road and after 500m arrive at the imposing St Nicholas’ Cemetery at Kill-St-Anne’s, still in use until the 1960s.
Originally the site of a 14th century church, of which little remains, burials began in 1681. A second church, also in ruins, was built in 1771 with a notable window set in the eastern wall, said to come from the first church. Around it are some of the finest 17th century tombs and headstones in Munster, and the mausoleums of the Earls of Barrymore and Peards, local landlords in the 18th century.
Some 400m further along the tree-lined lane, we come to a crossroads, and turn right, walking downhill to cross the Bride again at picturesque Doctor’s Bridge. Shortly afterwards, we walk through a crossroads and continue straight ahead.
We are now on a byroad, with fields on both sides. After 2km a busier road comes in from the right and we continue along it. We pass a small road on the right after half a kilometre; we will return to this. A little way beyond it, field stones forming steps protrude from the wall on our left. In the field behind are the remains of one of the Coole Churches dating from the 12th or 13th century. A monastery was founded here by St Abbann in the late 5th century in which a relic of St Patrick’s tooth was preserved. The Knights Templar were present here in the 13thcentury. Behind the abbey is Coole House, built in the 18thcentury and once the seat of the Peard family.
A hundred metres along, a tree-lined road on the left takes us to a Holy Well, under renovation. We then return to the ‘main road’, where we go right and take the aforementioned small road, now on our left. After 1km walking downhill on this quiet road we reach Edgar’s Cross Roads and turn right. We head for Castlelyons. The rear walls of the Franciscan Abbey come into view and, on Castlelyons village street we turn left to return to Bridebridge.
* Thanks to Maureen O’Brien of Ballyhoura Bears Walking Club.
Start point: From Cork city, M8. At Junction 16, take the R629 and shortly turn off for Tallow on R628. After 3km, go left for Bridebridge and Castlelyons. Walk starts at the river Bride in Bridebridge where there is a small park.
10km, with one section a there-and-back. Village streets, back roads.
Map: OS Discovery Sheet 81.
* For maps and information on Ordnance Survey products visit: www.osi.ie
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