Slievenamon or Slieve na mBán (Mountain of the Women) is one of my favourite mountains. At 721 metres, it’s a nice walk to the summit, but it’s popular with both runners and walkers due to its easy to follow trail leading to the top.
Parking at Slievenamon
In recent times, the mountain has gotten quite busy, and parking on the Kilcash side can be difficult at weekends. There is plenty of parking in Kilcash village though, and it doesn’t take too much extra time to hike up to the little laneway at the start.
Last month (April) I was lucky enough to get a beautiful sunny afternoon to climb so I packed the flask and the lunch and drove out to Kilcash.
I love the stony laneway that leads up to the gates opening onto the mountain. In summer the trees give lovely shelter from the sun. It’s also a good place to set the pace for the rest of the hike as it’s an uphill climb from the moment you leave your car.
Legend has it that Fionn MacCumhaill was a bit of a catch. He stood at the top of the mountain and said that whichever woman made it to the top first would be his wife. But he was in love with Gráinne so he told her of a shortcut to the top and she won the race. I think if I’d been one of the women in that race, I’d have thrown the two of them off the top of the mountain when I eventually reached the top.
The Memory Seat
These days, you can stop at the Memory Seat for a rest after the laneway, and take in the magnificent views of the surrounding countryside before beginning to climb again.
A stony track leads all the way to the top. In very wet weather, gullies of water run down the track in parts.
At the summit is a burial cairn and a natural rocky outcrop. Folklore has it that it’s bad luck to damage these tombs and that to do so will bring a curse. Sadly, in that case, there must be a few tormented individuals around as, on the day I was there, I saw a few of the rocks on the cairn marked with graffiti.
My favourite coffee is in the outdoors, and I was happy to have the lunch at the top of the mountain in the shelter of the rocks. Heaven!!
And, after the coffee, I made a short stop at this memorial plaque before making my descent.