CONTINUING our series of favourite walks this week we feature Dromore which was memorable in springtime and I wondered if I revisited now, when the trees are bare, might I spot a red squirrel. Pine martens are present, too, but are nocturnal.
Dromore’s 1,000 acres of lakes and woodlands is managed by the Forest and Wildlife Service. We made the gates our trailhead, rather than driving to the car parks 2 km. within, and missing the first part of the route.
Parking outside inconveniences nobody in off-season and, by walking, the woodland sights and sounds immediately surround us.
As we set off down the driveway, the River Fergus — barely 10m wide in springtime — ran alongside.
Rising in The Burren, it flows through seven lakes before reaching its tidal stretch at Ennis. The limestone riverbed provides ideal habitat and spawning grounds for brown trout.
Signboards, on the right, mapped the reserve’s many trails. We walked the longer circuit, marked in purple. The driveway passed through mixed forest, almost wildwood, the trees spindly and crowded.
After 1km, a woodland path on the left took us onto woodland paths for about 400m.
As a break in the woods and a white bridge came into view, the car parks were nearby. A wooden bench looking out over the lake provided a tranquil spot for contemplation. In a stir of wind, one could indeed, hear Yeats’ “lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore”.
The feathery heads of the reeds, on their long stems, were beautiful against the water they will be still lovely in winter even if brown and tattered.
The tallest grasses in these islands, with their tough, stiff stems, make excellent thatching material.
Returning to the driveway, we crossed the right-hand car park to a gap in the hedge and a wooden boardwalk, much like a bridge, beyond. Great Crested Grebe cruised the lake on both sides; in spring, both sexes develop beautiful, dark head plumes which they erect during the elaborate courting display
. In the 19th century, the fashion for using these feathers to decorate lady’s hats (sometime, the entire plumage was worn) almost led to the birds’ extinction in these islands.
The courtship rituals involve diving, acrobatic neck-convoluting, and rising breast-to-breast out of the water offering one another gifts of water plants. In summer, the chicks may be seen riding on the parents’ backs. In winter plumage, the white face and necks of the birds are conspicuous.
Beyond the boardwalk, we reached the still-robust ruin of a 16th century O’Brien castle.
Above its only doorway, arched in limestone and closed off with a stout gate, a fine piece of medieval stone carving read, “This castle was built by Teige, second son to Connor, third Earle of Thomond and by Slaney O’Brien, wife to the said Teige Anno D”.
Part of the lovely name, Slaney, is, unfortunately, worn away. Once a spacious tower house with fine lake views, its location owed as much to defence as to aesthetics; water on three sides would have been an advantage in the turbulent years of the Confederate Wars.
The O’Briens occupied the castle until 1689; it fell to ruin in the following century.
Continuing on the Castle Walk, we passed Dromore Lough and then oval-shaped Lough Garr. Dromore holds bream, roach, tench and perch, and fishing is permitted.
Our route took us via meandering woodland paths back to our trailhead at the entrance gate.
Off the Ennis to Gort road, N18, take sign for Crusheen, and at roundabout do not go into Crusheen but take next exit left, signed Mid-Clare Way. At the Y-junction follow the Mid-Clare Way (direction Ruan: the road to Ruan is not signposted) a very narrow road. After a small stone bridge over River Fergus, keep left for Dromore Wood entrance.
6 km, about 2 hrs. Wooded tracks, lanes, lakeshore. Easy walk, no ascents.
OS Map: 58
Kinsale Preghane Loop, grade C, 4 hrs, meet Distillery Lanes Car Park, Midleton 9:30am.
: Lough Cruttia, Brandon Peak,Mullaghveal, grade A, meet Hanafin’s Bar, Annascaul, 10am.
Dec 21: Mullaghveal, Zig Zags, Ballysitteragh, Conor Pass, grade B, meet Hanafin’s Bar 10am.
: Maharees, Sandy Bay/Kilshannig Loop, low level beach walk, 8 km, 2.5 hrs, meet Garvey’s Supermarket, Holy Ground, Dingle, 10am.
Forest Walk, grade B, 4hrs, meet Christ The King Statue, Aherlow, 10am.
Dec 21: Winter Solstice Walk to Slievereagh, meet Glebrohane Church, 7:30pm.
Dublin Mountains, grade A, meet St. Mochonog’s R.C. Church, Kilmacanogue, 9:30am.