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Walking Ireland’s Highest Points

January 29, 2010

What’s the plan?

Hike to the highest point in each county in Ireland, reaching them all during 2010.

What’s involved?

The high points of the 32 counties of Ireland are covered by 26 peaks, ranging in height from 276 meters (Slieve Na Calliagh) in Meath to Carrauntoohill’s 1039.

Several counties share a peak. Mount Leinster, for example, forms the high point of both Carlow and Wexford.

Among these hills are some of Ireland’s most popular and appealing mountains, such as Errigal and Slieve Donard. You’ll also find some that aren’t visited so often,  such as Cupidstown Hill in Co. Kildare.

Click on the green icons in the map for direct links to the blog posts or click to see a list of Ireland’s county high points.

Why do this?

  • I love getting up into the hills, but between a couple of years of mountain biking followed by a couple more of inactivity I haven’t been walking in a long time.
  • Last year was an exceptionally difficult year in my life.  Now that I have the project well under way I am trying to raise some much-needed funds for ISANDS, a charity that helped my wife and I a great deal during 2009. So please, give yourself the warm fuzzy feeling that is guaranteed to come from sponsoring me!
  • This strikes me as a great way to see Ireland and get to know my country a little better. From the Sperrins in the north to the Knockmealdown mountains of Waterford there are some great places to see that I probably wouldn’t make the effort to visit unless I was on a mission, like this one.

Walking Ireland’s County Tops gets a mention in the Irish Times

July 21, 2011

I was delighted to learn that Éanna Ní Lamhna, who previously mentioned this blog on RTE Radio 1, has now completed her ascent of the highest point in each county in Ireland.

Here’s a brief article on her  County Tops adventure that appeared in the Irish Times on the 21st of July 2011.

Broadcaster Ní Lamhna finishes climb of island’s 26 highest peaks

BROADCASTER AND botanist Éanna Ní Lamhna has availed of a bird’s eye view of the country after completing the 26 highest peaks on the island.

Ní Lamhna, accompanied by her husband, John Harding, and her friend Una Connaughton, began their arduous mission in January in her native Co Louth with the 589m Slieve Foye, and ended on Tuesday in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks near Killarney with the soaring Carrauntoohil, the country’s highest peak at 1039m.

Speaking in Killarney yesterday, she said the Slieve Foy climb appeared difficult at the time but her fitness has increased and going up the Devil’s Ladder in Kerry was not a huge challenge.

The former An Taisce president was inspired by the detailed blog of Murray Nolan, who took on the same challenge to remember his daughter Eve, who died at birth, and to raise funds for the Little Lifetime Foundation charity.

She followed the “incredible” detail of Mr Murray’s blog, which gives a daily account and helpful information, including a table of the 26 mountains. The route took her to places such as Antrim’s 550m Trostan mountain, which she would never have visited otherwise.

The 795m Mount Leinster is the highest peak in Carlow and Wexford so that took care of two counties. During her trip Ní Lamhna developed her opinions on tourism and trees – she is president of the Tree Council – and the education of children.

There were far “too many too big” Nama-type hotels, she said, and she now chose to stay in family-run or owned hotels or guesthouses. While the weather is one of the less attractive features of holidaying in Ireland, she notes that at least it is not so hot that you cannot go outdoors and there are “no mosquitoes when you open the windows at night”.

Anne Lucey (Irish Times, 2011)

P.s That’s Mr. Nolan to you, Ms Lucey.

Famous at last

February 13, 2011

County Tops on the radio

The blog got a radio mention recently on RTE’s Mooney Show, as Eanna ní Lamhna explained how she had taken to the hills to climb to the highest point in her native Co. Louth, Slieve Foye.

Slieve Foye viewed from Barnavave Col, Carlingford, Co. Louth

Carlingford's Slieve Foye from below, near Barnavave col.

By coincidence I was listening in at the time so when I heard Eanna say she planned to walk to the highest point in each county the show got my un-divided attention. I was shocked when she went on to mention this blog as a great resource for anyone planning to do such a challenge.

With listener numbers of around 200,000 I was pleased to see some folks making their way over to the blog with the stats shooting up soon after the show to over three times the previous busiest day’s figures.

You can listen to a playback of the show here, starting from about the 9th minute. It’s a brief reference but I was delighted to hear the blog and the idea of walking the County Tops getting a little exposure among people who might just give it a go themselves.

Here, by the way, is my Carlingford walking route.

Knockboy, Co. Cork

January 11, 2011

Located in the Shehy Mountains near Glengarriff and Kenmare, Knockboy straddles the border between Cork and Kerry. Standing at 706 meters it forms the highest point in Co. Cork…and the 30th highest point in Kerry.

This was the last mountain I needed to climb in order to visit the highest point in each county in Ireland during 2010. My friend Ross and I took just under 2hrs to summit and return to our parking spot at the Priest’s Leap.

Having left Lucan at 720 we made great progress down the M8, reaching the Jack Lynch tunnel just two hours later. From here we took the ring road and proceeded to drive (carefully – you’ll understand) through Beal na mBlath before arriving at the climb to Priest’s Leap.

These last few kilometers of the drive have been described as hair-raising due to the narrowness of the steep road and the unprotected drops that claw at your wheels. We certainly found it interesting as the view frequently featured only car bonnet and sky while we first-geared over undulations in the road, wondering what direction the path would take when we saw it next.

The road to Priest's Leap, Co. Cork

A level-ish section of the drive up to Priest's Leap

Still, I reckoned that if the Google Streetview car could make it up the hill then we could, so we drove on and soon enough we were parking in the small space at the Priest’s Leap, getting dressed in a delightful wind-blown drizzle while admiring the panoramic wall of cloud enveloping the spot. With grim determination/ resignation we crossed the road and started along a fence that leads in the right direction, which in this case was straight into the gloom. Read more…