The Ballyhoura Way – part of the Beara Breifne Way
The Ballyhoura Way (89km) is one of the many trails that forms part of the 700km Beara Breifne Way, Ireland’s longest national waymarked trail.
Using two cars, one at the start of the route, and one at the end, we needed to take account of travel distance as well as walking distance. We also had to bear in mind that because we were walking in October, daylight hours were decreasing.
We planned our first day of walking from Johnsbridge in Cork to Churchtown, a distance of just over 13 kilometres.
We parked a car in Churchtown, then drove back to Johnsbridge. Permission was given to us to park our car outside Casey’s Foodstore in Johnsbridge for the few hours that it took us to complete the hike along this section of the Ballyhoura Way.
We had a lot of road to walk en-route to Liscarroll, and there were some dodgy corners where we had to be wary of approaching traffic.
On our way into Liscarroll, heading towards Main Street, we passed by this monument dedicated to Donal O’Brien of the IRA who was executed at Victoria Barracks in 1921.
From the Independent Newspaper of April 28,2000:
“In May 1921 a British army raid took place at the O’Donnell safe-house in Aughrim where Liscarroll Volunteers Commandant Paddy O’Brien, his brother Donal O’Brien and Jack Reagan were staying.
In the escape from the house Donal was wounded while Paddy, pursued by British soldiers, made an incredible escape by running all the way across the fields to Freemount Village.
The wounded Donal O’Brien and Jack Reagan, as well as the O’Donnell family who offered them their home, were arrested and Donal was executed shortly afterwards in Cork jail.”
Further down the road is O’Brien’s bar which bears a commemorative plaque in memory of Commandant Patrick (Paddy) O’Brien.
We stopped at the Post Office in Liscarroll to have our Beara Breifne passports stamped and there we learnt a bit about Liscarroll Castle. We weren’t able to go inside, but we took a photo or two from the outside. It’s a shame that the castle is not open to the public, but at least it’s being maintained by the O.P.W.
Close to the castle is a small park with a children’s play area, and picnic benches and tables. This was where we stopped for lunch before continuing on to Churchtown.
The Donkey Sanctuary
We passed by the Donkey Sanctuary which, unfortunately, was closed. It had been closed on my previous visit to Liscarroll during the summer, and I don’t know when they intend to open again.
Slí Eile – Saturday Market
We arrived back in Churchtown, just in time to grab a cup of coffee at the Slí Eile Saturday Market.
We had time to sample some of the tasty baking too, and we promised ourselves that we would start our next section of the walk off with breakfast at the market.
Burton Park is an impressive country house. It’s currently owned by Walter Ryan-Purcell and, according to Slí Eile’s website, is leased by them. There they run an organic farm and market as a social enterprise for people with mental health challenges.
Below are some photos of the well maintained flower beds around Churchtown.
Bruhenny Church and Graveyard
There’s not a lot of this church left. An area of stone has been obscured by trees and bushes in the centre of the graveyard.
From the Mallow Union of Parishes website:
Three miles west of Buttevant the graveyard here with the ruin of the medieval church is now famous as the resting place of the actor Oliver Reed. This church was replaced in the 1800’s by another one about a mile south west of the town by the Percival family the Earl’s of Egmont and landlords of the area. This new church lasted for only a few decades before being abandoned.
I was surprised to learn that the fairly inconspicuous headstone (below) in such a quiet, country graveyard is the final resting place of the actor, Oliver Reed who died at the age of 61 in 1999. It took me a while (and a search on Google) before I realised who he was.
Several ceramic dogs sit at the side of the headstone, a reminder, I presume, of his part as Bill Sykes in the 1968 film version of ‘Oliver Twist’. A couple of beer cans and a bottle also adorn the grave.
Ballyhoura Way Day 2 to follow – 16km from Churchtown to the Ballinaboola Trailhead