A leisurely archaeological drive, walk, or bicycle tour around the parish of Aghinagh, beginning in the town of Macroom. Displaying many historical and ancient sites, as well as the Lee and Laney Rivers, this is a perfect portal back in time using your own modern transportation and a good map, available at the Macroom Tourist Office.
What to See and Do
Over 250 archaeological sites in this area. Begin at the Aghina Church, built in 1656, just east of Macroom near the bank of the Lee River. Nothing remains of the church but the walls, but there is a large cemetery with gravestones dating back to the 17th century.
East of the church is Carrigadrohid Castle, built on a rock in the middle of the Lee River. The castle is closed to the public, but you can get a good view of by walking down a pretty stone trail to the river. Marvel at the history of this place – one story is that Bishop MacEgan, a native of Dunhallow, was captured by Cromwell’s forces. He was promised his freedom if he could persuade the castle to surrender. He refused and urged them to keep fighting, telling them to “Hold out to the last for Religion and Country.” As punishment, he was hanged from a nearby tree on the reigns of his own horse, for the castle defenders to see. North of the castle, 1 km up the Mullinhassig River is Mullinhassig Waterfall. Enter at the trailhead and follow 0.5 km through a wooded walk to the waterfall. West of the waterfall, view the Leades House, built in 1730, and currently being fully restored to its former grandeur. Open now by appointment only, call (0)26 148038. Next along the drive are the Cahirbaroule Ringfort, an enclosed farmstead built in early Christian times. In Cahirbaroul, see a simple engraved cross surrounded by a circle of stones. The inscription was made in the 5th century, during the transition from paganism to Christianity. Heading north, see two megalithic tombs, each facing in a southwesterly direction. Heading north into the Boggeragh Mountains, see the Butter Road, created to transport butter from Kerry to Cork City. Last on the loop is the Carrigagulla Stone Circle. A Bronze Age circle, it contains 15 stones and is thought to be orientated with the setting sun on the 5th of February for the festival of Imbolc.
How to get there
Find map of The Aghinagh Way at the Macroom Tourist Information Centre.
From Cork, take N22 west to Macroom. Take southeast road out of town to Aghina Church.
From Killarney, take N22 east to Macroom. Take southeast road out of town to Aghina Church.
Lowland Cycle loop (25.5km = 16 miles) begins in Macroom and winds along the Lee River sites to the Leades House, then back to Macroom.
Lowland Cycle longer loop (54km = 34 miles) begins in Macroom and winds along the Lee River to Mullinhassig Waterfall, then travels up to Ballinagree and on to Macroom via Bawnmore.
Hill Cycle loop (24km = 15 miles) begins in Ballingree and travels through a loop of cross, along the Butter Road, and then back to Ballingree.
When to go
April through September, then the days are longer and the sun more likely to show.
Written by Liz O' Malley - Summer of Travel 2007