WHAT a fine, broad robust river the Suir at Kilsheelan is. Within a minute of reaching its bank we were welcomed by a local inhabitant, an otter with a mud-pack on its face, surfacing beside us and regarding us, quite unafraid, before heading off upriver towards the big, many-arched bridge.
We had set off from the village only minutes before, crossing the road from where we’d parked. As we headed for the bridge, we passed the 12th century Norman motte, a pudding-shaped green mound into which has been inserted a Marian Shrine. Taking the path on the left down to the river bank, we encountered the otter and a useful signboard depicting local attractions and historic artifacts, with information on each. Before setting off along the path down river, we walked under the dry arch of the bridge and got a fine view of the turreted Gurteen Le Poer, a neo-Gothic Victorian mansion and parklands, upriver on the opposite bank.
The down river path is green and follows the bank all the way to Carrick. Part of the East Munster Way from Carrick-on-Suir to Clonmel to Clogheen, it climbs over Comeragh Mountains and skirts the Knockmealdowns.
We come to Cill Siollan, the ruins of a 12th century church that warrants exploration. Ancient yew trees, tombs and headstones of some antiquity crowd the grounds around the two ivy-covered gables. On the riverside is a butterfly garden, and an information board about the local otters whose holt is on the opposite bank.
The N24, on the other side of the burial ground, is busy with traffic; here, one may enjoy nature and the gentle sounds of the river.!
Soon, we pass Poulakerry Tower House, a fortified residence built by the Butler Fitzwilliams in the 16th century, and restored in the 1970s as a private residence. The many branches of the Norman de Buitléir (Butler) family built residences all over Tipperary and Kilkenny: the ruins of the Butler’s Kilcash Castle and the death of Margaret Butler, Viscountess Iveagh, was inspiration for the beautiful 18th century lament, Caoine Cill Cháis, which many of us learnt at school.
The riverbank is a joy to walk. Sometimes we pass handsome residences set back from the river, with gardens between. The views across the water to green fields and woods beyond are very fine. Water crowfoot, the trailing, green weed that rises to the surface covered in white flowers in summer, grows prolifically, moving sinuously in the current. Referred to the ‘gentle Shure’, by the poet, Spenser, (his spelling is phonetically accurate), the Suir is famous for its brown trout. Tidal up to Carrick- on-Suir, it joins the River Barrow in County Waterford and flows into the sea between Dunmore East and Hook Head.
A footwear factory backs onto the river but is landscaped and an ivy-covered castle ruin is seen. For the last three kilometres, the path is nearer the road, and traffic is heard and seen. Across the water are large barns and farmhouses and, as we pass another factory, the grassy track on which we have been walking is replaced by a concrete path which runs all the way into Carrick-on-Suir, about a mile (1.6 km) from here. At a small parking place, where vehicles can come down a laneway from the N24, we can see the town ahead and a bend in the river. After passing a caravan park and playing fields we arrive at a park on our left. Here, in view of the town, a bend in the river and the old bridge, our walk ends.
Dunmanway Hill Walking
Feb 10: Baureragh Circuit, Glengarriff, strenuous, 11km., 4.5hrs. meet at Supervalu Car Park, Dunmanway, 8.30am.
Galway Walking Club
Feb 10: Miners Way Loop (Co. Clare) approx. 22km, road and green road, start GAA grounds, meet Omniplex, Headford Rd. 9.45am.
Kenmare Walking Club
Feb 10: Coomcallee, OS 83, Grade A meet The Square, Kenmare, 9am.
Non-members please contact walk leader Wally Desmond 087 6447602 before.
Bishopstown Walking Club
(Members only: membership €45)
Feb 6: Mangerton Nth, via Mangerton, grade B, 12km, 5hrs.
Meet Melbourne Business Park car park, Model Farm Rd. Cork, 9am.
Feb 9: Glanlough Loop, Drimoleague, Grade C, 10km., 260m., 4hrs. meet Old Railway Yard car park, Drimoleague, 10.45am.