Activities

Abbeyleix Walks

Killamuck Looped Walk



A-B. Starting from the hotel, follow the purple and green arrows across the main road (N77) with care and join a concrete pathway. The green arrows are for the shorter Collin’s Bog Loop. The concrete path takes you back to the edge of the village where you turn left and follow a road for 300 metres before veering left. After 100 metres cross the road and join a church avenue through metal gates. At the end of the avenue turn left onto a forestry roadway.

B-C. Continue to follow the green and purple arrows along the forestry roadway which takes you into an area called Collin’s Bog. After 2 kilometres you exit from the bog and join a surfaced roadway where you turn left. Shortly afterwards, you join the busy N77 - turn right but after 100 metres, cross the road with care and join a green laneway which takes you into Killamuck Bog. After 50 metres reach a T-junction where the Collin’s Bog Loop turns left, but you turn right.

C-D. Follow the purple arrows as the loop follows bog paths for 1 kilometre before joining a surfaced roadway in the townland of Killamuck and turning left. After 300 metres turn left onto a sandy roadway which takes you to the two eyed bridge. Follow the path (to the right) onto the bridge and join an old railway line.

D-A. Continue to follow the old railway line for 2 kilometres to a point where the Collin’s Bog Loop joins from your left. Continue for another 500 metres to rejoin the N77 just 100 metres from the trailhead at the hotel.



Colin's Bog Looped Walk



A-B. Starting from the hotel, follow the green and purple arrows across the main road (N77) with care and join a concrete pathway. The purple arrows are for the longer Killamuck Bog Loop. The concrete path takes you back to the edge of the village where you turn left and follow a road for 300 metres before veering left. After 100 metres cross the road and join a church avenue through metal gates. At the end of the avenue turn left onto a forestry roadway.

B-C. Continue to follow the green and purple arrows along the forestry roadway which takes you into an area called Collin’s Bog. After 2km you exit from the bog and join a surfaced roadway where you turn left. Shortly afterwards, you join the busy N77 again, turn right, but after 100 metres, cross the road with care and join a green laneway which takes you into Killamuck Bog. After 50 metres reach a T-junction where the Killamuck Bog Loop turns right, but you turn left.

C-A. Now follow the green arrows as the loop follows a bog path for 500m before joining an old railway line where you rejoin the Killamuck Bog Loop. Turn left here and follow the railway line to rejoin the N77 just 100m from the trailhead at the hotel.


Gardening & Cooking Courses

Dunmore Country School
Swan Road,
Durrow,
County Laois

Tel: 087 1258002
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Web: www.dunmorecountryschool.ie

Specialises in Gardening Courses. Also offers courses in French. People are recognizing the vital connection between health, agriculture and our environment. At the Dunmore Country school we will help you to grow tasty vegetables in an organic, sustainable, intensive and cost effective way.

Our Kitchen Garden

Our kitchen garden or "potager" is a typical french garden where you mix vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers.

Sustainable Organic Gardening Courses

Our intensive 1 day courses will bring you through the essentials of producing a garden that is both productive and a pleasure to the senses.

Fiachri Country House Cookery School
Boulerea,
Knock,
Roscrea,
Co. Tipperary

Tel: 0505 43017
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Web: www.fiacrihouse.com

Fiacri Country House Restaurant and Cookery School is situated in the heart of the North Tipperary countryside on the Laois border. Fiacri Country House Restaurant is a well established restaurant run by husband and wife team Ailish and Enda Hennessy.The menu is seasonal driven. A five course menu is on offer with a wide variety of starters and main courses.

On Tuesdays the Cookery school is open, and classes run over a five week period. In addition, one day courses are run throughout the year at such culinary demanding times as Christmas and Easter and of course our own B.B.Q. evenings in the Summer with questions & Answers. Classes are intimate and interactive, and afterwards the perfect reward is getting to eat it all!

Fishing

Angling

Located at Coolrain, less than 3 miles from the N7, the Laois Angling Center combines the peace and tranquility of the Irish country side with exceptional game and coarse fishing. The four large spring fed lakes, surrounded by mature woodlands, Clonoghil House and farmlands provide the perfect natural conditions for both the fish and fisherman... more info on Angling in Laois

Game Fishing

Brown trout fishing is the dominant feature of the River Barrow which rise in the Slieve Bloom Mountains before cutting through the Laois countryside heading south and the River Nore rises in the Devil’s Bit, Tipperary... more info on Game Fishing in Laois

Lake Fishing

Laois boasts hushed pockets of excellent fishing brimming with tench, bream, roach and rudd that have never seen a fisherman’s hook. These quiet unspoilt waters are especially appealing to those who don't mind getting up a bit earlier, or fishing into the evening, to enjoy the best sport... more info on Lake Fishing in Laois

River Fishing

Specimen coarse fishing is a feature of the wonderful River Barrow and every year this waterway produces more official award winning fish than any other single fishery in Ireland... more info on River Fishing in Laois

Theatre

Theatre Listing Coming Soon...

Local Crafts

Finn Ceramics   Marie Farrell   Franz Design   Hatai Pheig   Mountmellick Work   Emoke Ceramics   Bluebell Dolls Houses   The Bag Ladies   Derrin Crafts   Bijouterie of My Dream   Irish Collectables   Candles Un-Laoised

74776_chess_boardFinn Ceramics

Finn Ceramics
The Flat,
Ballinaslee,
Durrow,
County Laois

Tel: +353 (0)87 9856476

"After years working at various jobs and a lifelong interest in crafts, Fionnuala has found her niche with handthrown pottery/ceramics. She trained at the world renowned Pottery Skills Course in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny under Gus Mabelson. Fionnuala is now out on her own, working from her studio in Durrow, Co. Laois. Her range consists of domestic stoneware, decorative ware and handthrown chess-sets. Fionnuala designs her own range and is in a constant state of change and development."

"Handthrown Pottery Ceramics Domestic Ware / Chess Sets"

 

 

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Marie Farrell

Marie Farrell Lacken,
Rosenallis,
Portlaoise,
Co. Laois

Tel: +353 (0)86 3907894
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Wood-Turner

Bowls, Lamps, Twig-Pots and other unique items turned from pieces of wood.

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70453_franz_design__candlesFranz Design

Franz Design
Clonminan Business Park,
Portlaoise,
Co. Laois

Tel: +353 (0)57 86 61812
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Website: www.franzdesign.com

Franz Designs the home of Fine Art Irish Sculpture has been creating highly unique and contemporary pieces for over 10 years. Winning design awards year in year out and receiving rave reviews from both national and international media.

Franz Designs is a marriage of contemporary design and traditional mediums and skills to deliver timeless pieces for the home and international markets.

Franz Designs services the international markets with furniture, lighting table-top, home and living products from various mediums such as glass, metal and wood.

Visit the franz design website to view their entire collection.

 

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70454_hatai_pheig__hat_and_scarfHatai Pheig

Hatai Pheig
Bushfield House,
Borris-in-Ossory,
Co. Laois

Tel: +353 (0)505 41250
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Website: www.hataipheig.com

Inspired by her interest in craft, particularly knitting, Peg became involved along with her friend Vera in the design of knitted hats. At first it was only one type of hat but as demand continued, many new styles were added. Later on bags and scarves were introduced.

Peg combines her love of textures and colour to create a delightful range of hand-knitted hats, bags and scarves. Available in a variety of yarns e.g. Aran Tweed from Donegal, Soft Boucle from Kilkenny, to the beautiful hand dyed mohair/wool mix from Wales.

Peg's work is available in selected shops in Ireland, U.K., France, Italy, U.S.A. and many other countries throughout the world.

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70455_mountmellick_work__embroideryMountmellick Work

Mountmellick Work
St. Martins,
Acragar,
Mountmellick,
Co. Laois

Tel: +353 (0)57 8624531

Mountmellick Embroidery is a dimensional white on white embroidery done in white cotton on a heavy white cotton satin jean. Although sometimes referred to as 'Mountmellick Lace', eyelids or open work are excluded. Motifs include a variety of natural floral designs, usually fairly large in scale, and pieces are often finished with buttonholed and knitted fringed edges.

The embroidery was traditionally done on tablecloths, coverlets, christening gowns, cushion covers, pillow shams, and laying out coverlets. Sometimes on old work, almost the entire surface of the material was embroidered.

Today pieces are often framed, and may be given as a gift to celebrate a wedding, the birth of a child or any other special occasion...
Annie Kelly, who is a certified teacher of Mountmellick Work, teaches members of the Irish Country Women's Association at their national training centre "An Grianan" as well as groups of local students in Portlaoise, Portarlington, Mountmellick, and Abbeyleix. Annie has many years experience teaching students from Ireland and abroad and has helped many authors in researching articles and books on the subject of Mountmellick Embroidery

 

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70456_emoke_ceramics__lampEmoke Ceramics

Emoke Ceramics
Lower Boley,
Abbeyleix,
Co. Laois

Tel: +353 (0)87 2110999
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Emoke Ceramics is a small one person production workshop which was established in 2002.

The workshop produces a range of gift and tableware in two-colour ranges the emerald green range and the coffee and cram range. A selection of ready made designs is available from the workshop.
However a range of specific made to order pieces which are designed and discussed on a one to one basis with the customer is becoming increasingly popular. Following a consultation with the customer a 2D drawing is produced to give all involved an idea of how the final piece should look in the end. A three-week process follows after which the item is ready for collection.

 

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karl_rafferty__handmade_dolls_houseBluebell Dolls Houses

Bluebell Dolls Houses
Pallas Little,
Portlaoise,
Co. Laois

Tel: +353 (0)57 8660703

 

 

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The Bag Ladies

The Bag Ladies
Derrylamogue,
Rosenalis,
Co. Laois / Balladine,
Abbeyleix,
Co. Laois

Tel: +353 (0)57 8628692 or +353 (0)87 7722945

Catríona Ryan from Derrylamogue and Maria Mullally from Abbeyleix make a range of bags and have a wonderful assortment of styles to cover any occasion - evening bags, smart day wear, weddings, communions etc.

Whatever the occasion, Catríona and Maria have something to fit the bill and, if they haven’t got it on hand, they’ll custom make it. The work involved in making a bag is, they say, time consuming. It’s easy to see why. The bags are hand-stitched, some with hand-made appliqué or contemporary embroidery and the finish is extremely professional.

 

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Derrin Crafts

Derrin Crafts
Derrin,
Borris-in-Ossory,
Co. Laois

Tel: +353 (0)505 41782 or +353 (0)87 2682466
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Website: www.derrincrafts.ie

Teresa Heffernan produces a unique range of handcrafted giftware items including handmade paper goods - greeting cards, invitations, etc – jewellery, including magnetic therapy jewellery.

Greeting Cards, Invitations, Jewellery & Magnetic Therapy Jewellery.

 

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70462_a_necklace_by_bijouterie_my_dreamBijouterie of My Dream

Bijouterie of My Dream
The Ballagh,
Durrow,
Co. Laois

Tel: +353 (0)57 8736494
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As a perfectionist her mind designs and her skilful hands craft her products to a very high standard.

She uses Swarovski crystal, Bohemian crystal and Czech glass in her work. The pearls used are freshwater pearls. She uses also many kinds of natural semi-precious stones. The silver used is silver 925.
Visitors to her studio at home are very welcome. Home parties done. As a perfect gift, designs can be made to order.

 

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70494_irish_collectables__photoIrish Collectables

Irish Collectables
92 Kilnacourt Woods,
Portarlington,
Co. Laois

Tel: +353 (0)87 6555372
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Website: www.irishcollectables.com

Irish Collectables was established 5 years ago to collect and bring to the marketplace originals and copies of documents, photographs, coins, notes and rare collectable Irish pieces.

The collection has grown steadily since then and we have now started to produce composite pieces of Irish interest based on the original archive documents. We hope that you enjoy the collection.

 

 

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70493_candles_unlaoised__angel_candleCandles Un-Laoised

Candles Un-Laoised
11 Beechlawn,
Portlaoise,
Co. Laois

Tel: +353 (0)87 0644372
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Mark commenced candle making in 2004, rapidly growing captured by candlemaking as a craft. In the intervening years he perfected skills in the craft and design of candles using both traditional and contemporary designs and the skills learned are being used to move from to a professional footing.

Mark's objectives are to move completely to a professional status while maintaining the unique hand designed feel, to design and create unique mouldings and produce a high quality product that can be enjoyed time after time.

In addition to traditional pillar candles, Mark has produced a wide range of intricate and unique candles. Personalised candles for many family occasions including weddings, birthdays and confirmations have become very popular. Favourite photographs can be captured and turned in to a candle, providing a unique gift for family and friends.

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Antique Shops

The Ashgrove Group
Ashgrove,
Ballybrittas,
Portlaoise,
County Laois

Tel: +353 (0)57 8626290
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Website: www.ashgrovegroup.ie

The largest antiques and interiors complex in Ireland!

Sean Eacrett Antiques and Traditional Antiques Restoration Ltd are now located in a new and exciting purpose built showrooms and workshops in Ballybrittas, Portlaoise. The business has also expanded to incorporate Ashgrove Interiors, Ashgrove Auction Rooms and The Grove Cafe. Each specialises in a different yet complementary area to form The Ashgrove Group, under one roof.

Auctions are held on the last Monday of the month. Viewings are from the previous Friday until the Auction on the Monday at 6.30pm sharp, with the purchase of a catalogue. Specialist Auctions can be held by prior arrangement, for further details please contact us.

Craft Shops

Old Millrace Gallery
Mains St.,
Stradbally,
County Laois

Tel: +353 (0)57 8625188

The Old Millrace Gallery is located on the main street of Stradbally town. This quaint, old style craft shop specialises in local and Irish crafts. The ideal stop to get that perfect souvenir or gift. An extensive range of crafts available. Open May to October, 9.30am to 6.30pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday.

 


Other Walking Routes

Other Walking Routes

For more information regarding walking contact either the Portlaoise Tourist Office, Tel:0502 21178 or Laois Leader at 0502 61900.

One of the most popular attractions for visitors to the county are the magnificent Slieve Bloom Mountains, which boast an almost unlimited amount of different walking routes and many hidden gems including waterfalls, ancient geological sites and picturesque sweeping views.

Read more...

Slieve Bloom Walking Club

Slieve Bloom Walking Club

The Slieve Bloom Rural Development Society and the Slieve Bloom Walking Club organise a Programme of Walks on most Sundays from May to September, with local guides to enable you to get the most enjoyment and to benefit from their local knowledge of the terrain and of the flora and fauna encountered on the way.

The Slieve Bloom Mountains / Environment Park offer some of the best walking opportunities in Ireland, whether you want just a leisurely stroll or you are looking for challenging hill-walks.

Phone: 086 2789147
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Web: http://www.slievebloom.ie

Whitehorse

Whitehorse

The Whitehorse area encompasses Mountrath and the southern slopes of the Slieve Bloom Hills. These walks have been planned and developed by the Whitehorse Development Project 2000.

  • Walks in Mountrath start from the roundabout. Other walks as shown
  • Choose a walk to suit your capabilities
  • Guidance times are based on a steady pace with about half an hour for stops
  • Dress appropriately - wear or carry warm and waterproof clothes
  • Please observe the country code: close all gates and take litter home
  • For local walks & events, contact Eddie Phelan, Phelan’s Restaurant, Mountrath 057-8732491

Grehans Wood   Bull Bog   Bockagh Lodge   Mountrath - short walk

Grehans Wood

3 kms./ ¾ of an hour
Forest & Road Walk

A short forest walk. Take care with traffic on the road.

A. Travel up the Clonaslee road for a kilometre from
Burke’s crossroads. Park carefully at and start from a long straight forest road. Follow the forest road for
about 20 minutes to reach a crossroads. Turn left.

B. Turn left again down a forest road to reach the road below. Turn left and follow road with care.

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Bull Bog

5 kms./ 1 hour
Forest & Road Walk

A longer forest walk. Take care with traffic on the road.

A. Follow all directions for A of Walk 1 (see
above).

B. Take the first right; continue along a rougher forest track. This track leaves the forest and continues past a couple of farms.

C. Keep following the track downhill, closing any gates enroute, to reach the main road below. Turn left and follow raod with care.

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Bockagh Lodge

7 kms./ 2½ hours
Forest Walk

The glens of The Slieve Bloom are their most scenic aspect and this hilly forest walk explores the glen of Monicknew. Care must be taken on the road.

A. Start from the car park at Monicknew on the Clonaslee road. There is a picnic area here with lovely riverside walks. Cross the bridge and follow the Slieve Bloom Way walking route uphill away from the road.

B. After a steady uphill climb, the Way levels off and then descends a little. Turn right off the Way along another forest track. Follow this until it descends to
reach the forest edge.

C. Continue on a vague grassy track to reach a stile beside the ruined Bockagh Lodge. Keep right to reach a rough road below. Turn right and follow this, closing any gates enroute, to reach the main road below. Turn right for the car park.

Mountrath

Short Walk 1-3 kms./ ¼-¾ hrs.
River & Road Walk

Pleasant circuits starting from the town centre offering a few minutes exercise.

A. Start from the roundabout in Mountrath. Walk down to the river, turn left and enter the small park. After a couple of minutes, cross stepping stones over the river. Do not attempt when in flood!! Return along the far bank, crossing the main road and continue
along the river path. Cross back over the river by means of stepping stones and turn left to follow a gravel path. On reaching a curved stone entrance, enter the old Quaker Graveyard. Turn right to turn to return to the start.

Stradbally

Stradbally

(An tSráidbhaile: Town with One Street)

Stradbally is a beautiful town, of great historical interest in Laois and is set in a spectacular location. From the top of the Windy Gap, the view sweeps down through the lovely dip with wide open fields of barley, wheat and grasslands.
Stradbally is perhaps best know for its annual Steam Festival, which takes place every August bank holiday weekend at Cosby Hall.

You are welcome to Stradbally and we hope you enjoy your stay and the walks in Oughaval and to Clopook.

  • The local walks start from the car park at Oughaval or Stradbally Woods
  • Choose a walk to suit your capabilities
  • Guidance times are based on a steady pace with about half an hour for stops
  • Dress appropriately - wear or carry warm and waterproof clothes
  • Please observe the country code: close all gates and take litter home

The Cobbler’s Walk   The Mass Rock    Link Walk to Timahoe - Stradbally to Clopook    The Beech Way

The Cobbler’s Walk

6 kms./ 1½ hours
Forest Walk

A complete circuit of Oughaval Wood. Muddy underfoot in places so wear boots or wellies. The walk
is named after an ancient rath or fort. To allow people to earn a living during the Great Famine
(1845-48), the local Cosby Estate employed people to build a folly on the site. This folly which could
be seen from miles around became known as Cobblers Castle. Oughaval Wood is owned and managed by Coillte.

A. Start from the car park at Oughaval or Stradbally Woods. Follow the forest road away from the car park, keeping straight on at the first two road junctions.
The woods are largely planted with a mixture of beech and cypress trees, with a prominent understorey of holly bushes. Note the network of old walls and ditches, remnants of boundaries that once subdivided forest from field.

B. Reach a gate but keep right and follow a waymarked trail through the woodland. This travels over the hill to rejoin a forest track further on.

C. Reach a junction. Turn right and then left uphill. The road levels out and then descends back to the car park.

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The Mass Rock

3 kms./ ¾ hour
Forest Walk

A short forest walk that follows the traditional route to the Mass Rock.

A. Start from the entrance to the car park. Take a track that leads directly uphill. Cross a forest track and continue
uphill. The path levels out and then descends to reach the Mass Rock. This Mass Rock is a place where local people gathered to attend Mass during Penal times (1691-1727). Under the Penal Laws, the
practice of Roman Catholicism was forbidden hence the secretive location on the far side of the hill. The site was restored in 1957 and the Stations of the Cross are carried out here each year in Holy Week with Mass being said on special occasions during the year.

B. Turn right along the forest track.Reach a junction and turn right uphill. The road levels out and then descends
back to the car park.

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Link Walk to Timahoe

12 kms. in total

Stradbally to Clopook

7 kms./ 2½ hours

This walk describes a section of the link walk to Timahoe. It covers from Stradbally to Clopook and crosses a fine airy hill with extensive views. See the Timahoe Walks leaflet for Clopook to Timahoe.

A. Start from the Green in Stradbally. Follow the main road towards Carlow for a short distance before turning right up a narrow tarmac road - Corrig Lane.

B. After c.45 minutes reach a sharp bend. Turn left up along Ballyprior Lane. This farm road climbs steadily uphill.

C. Continue on the farm road as it levels out. Pass through gates (close them!) to reach the track end. Follow the waymarked route down though fi elds into a valley. The walk then ascends onto Odlum’s Hill before descending to Clopook. There is a fine example of a lime kiln on Odlum’s Hill. Here before the advent of modern fertilisers, limestone rock was ‘burnt’ to produce a rock ash for spreading on the land. Admire the grassy felds here - it must be good stuff.

Oak Trees

Oughaval Wood derives its name from the Oak tree, which once covered this area. There are two types of oak native to Ireland, the Sessile Oak, which is the more popular and the Pendunculate Oak, often referred to as the Common or English Oak. They are slow growing but they produce a very high quality hard wood.

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The Beech Way

2 kms./ ½ an hour

A short forest walk, suitable for families. Visit the
Mass Rock.

A. Start from the car park at Oughaval or Stradbally Woods. Follow the forest track away from the car park. After c.10 minutes, turn right and uphill.

B. Reach a junction of paths with the Mass Rock on the right. Pass the Rock and continue up and over the hill before descending to the car park.
See Walk above for details on the Mass Rock.

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Spink

Spink

(Spinc : A Pointed Rock)

Spink is a rural townsland in the parish of Ballinakill, situated on the Abbeyleix - Carlow road. It is mainly an agricultural area with a population of circa 300. Cooper was a landlord in the area following the plantations of Laois & Offaly in the 16th century. This walk traverses the hills where his estate lay. There is a pleasant picnic area about a mile east of the start of the walk, situated by the main road.

  • The walks starts from the carpark outside St.Lazarian’s Church.
  • Guidance times are based on a steady pace with about half an hour for stops
  • Dress appropriately - wear or carry warm and waterproof clothes
  • Please observe the country code: close all gates and take litter home

St.Lazarian’s   The Grotto   Owenbeg River   Dysart Abbey   The Wartstone   Cooper’s Hill   Old Well   Picnic Area

St.Lazarian’s R.C. Church

Built during the period 1846-1849.The preferred site for the church was at Dinny’s Hill but the local Protestant landlords would not agree to the chapel being built there, consequently the present site was allowed because the land was of poorer quality. The church was built as funds were collected and was in use before it was finally roofed. A local story goes that a man called Har Duff walked around the wall plate during mass for a bet of one shilling - he must have had a good head for heights. The reason that the church is so high is that according to plans, a gallery was to be built; however after the Great Famine and the subsequent fall in population, the gallery never came to fruition.

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The Grotto

The grotto of our Lady is situated in the grounds of St.Lazarian’s was built in 1951. Its foundation stone was brought from Lourdes. The grotto received national attention during the ‘moving statues’ phenomenon in 1986 with thousands of people visiting this spot.

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Owenbeg River

Abhainn Beag - small river. You will cross tributaries of this river on six occasions during your walk. The Owenbeg rises in Bawnogue and flows to enter the River Nore at Attanagh.

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Dysart Abbey

A congregation of monks lived here till the Cromwellian wars of the 1640’s when the church was plundered. The holywater font was moved in 1650 to its present location - see below.

The Wartstone.

The Wartstone rag tree is situated at Dysart crossroads. At the foot of the tree is the stone basin, the holywater font from Dysart Abbey. The hollow in the Wartstone has never been known to go dry, no matter how long a dry spell. Its reputation for curing warts has been handed down through the generations. To avail of the cure; wash the wart thoroughly in the water with a piece of cloth, recite five ‘Our Fathers’, five ‘Hail Marys’ and five ‘Glory Be’s’ and then hang the piece of cloth on the adjoining whitethorn bush. It is said that as your rag disintegrates, so your warts disappear. The practice is very much alive to judge by the number of rags hanging from the bush.

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Cooper’s Hill

The route over Cooper’s Hill on which you now travel was constructed under a relief scheme to provide local employment in the 1930’s. It was disused and completely overgrown by the early 1990’s and reopened in 1996 to facilitate this walking route.. From the viewing platform, one has a panoramic view encompassing six counties: Laois, Kilkenny, Carlow, Waterford, Kildare & Tipperary. Cooper was the landlord of the area and resided at ‘The Building’, Aghnacross.

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Old Well

Note the old well with its clear springwater on your right just before you rejoin the tarmac road. This served the people who once lived in the old ruined house opposite. Before piped mains water became more common, a good local spring was often a deciding factor in locating a house.

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Picnic Area

Situated at Larkin’s crossroads by the foot of Dinny’s Hill. This area was once a waste piece of land given over to dumping whence the Spink ICA Guild initiated a plan to convert it into this fine amenity area. A lot of voluntary effort was rewarded in 1990 with an Environmental Project award.

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Slieve Margy Way and the Swan Loop

Slieve Margy Way & the Swan Loop

The Slieve Margy Way is a network of walking routes in south east Co. Laois passing through many of its villages including Graiguecullen, Maganey, Arles, Rushes, Wolfhill and the Swan. The total distance covered is 71 kilometres but you can choose to walk many shorter sections and in either direction.



Slieve Margy Marked Way   Slieve Margy Way to Swan Loop 

Slieve Margy Way Marked Way

The official start of the walk is in Graiguecullen but please note that many of the other villages enroute are also excellent starting points, offering car parking, refreshments, toilets, post offices & public phones (refer to map for details). For accommodation/ events in the area please contact Portlaoise Tourist Office 057 – 8621178 or Carlow Rural Tourism 0503 – 30411 or Carlow Tourist Office 0503 - 31554.

A) Start at the Rowing Club, Graiguecullen and follow the Barrow Way track to Maganey Bridge. The Rowing Club was originally the site of the Canal Stores. On leaving Carlow you will pass by the Old Graves & Braganza, the former Bishops residence. After the Bill Duggan Bridge, you will pass by Ireland’s first & largest Sugar Factory. The River Barrow (192km) is the second longest river in Ireland. Enroute to Maganey there are two locks, Bestfield and Maganey. The Barrow Way is managed by the Office of Public Works Waterways Division. The Barrow Way is approved by The National Waymarked Ways Committee. Located on the opposite side of the river is Knockbeg College (1793), a large diocesan secondary college. The weir near the college is a popular spot for local swimmers.

B) Reach Maganey Bridge, cross over the bridge and follow the tarred road to Killeen. After approximately 2.5km turn left down a laneway. The laneway will lead you through a small housing estate. Follow the arrows across the fields. Before returning to the tarred road, note the beehives. At Maganey the three counties of Laois, Carlow & Kildare meet. In Killabban (approx. 1km off the Way) are the ruins of a monastic settlement founded by St. Abban in the 7th century. A local legend says that he lived for 300 years, it is more probable that there were two St. Abban’s.

C) Take the next right down a laneway, later left along a track and follow through the fields to enter the village of Arles through the Church grounds.
Arles – the Verdant or Fortified Hill. The local Norman Family, the Grace’s, built the Church of the Sacred Heart (1866). The famous architect Pugin designed the Church. The Grace family owned the land on which the American Empire State Building stands. William Russell Grace founded W.R.Grace & Company (1854) and was the first Catholic Mayor of New York. In 1885 he accepted the Stature of
Liberty from the French on behalf of the American people. The graveyard contains a fine mausoleum to the Grace Family.


D) Cross the road, follow along the old mass path, climb uphill through the fields before descending along a laneway to a tarred road and turn left. On the route of the mass path is St. Abban’s Holy Well (650 A.D.), a place of local pilgrimage. The path rises up to Maidenhead, where in 1650 Cromwell’s army is reputed to have camped. Nearby in Castletown Church, Cromwell’s officers stabled their horses.

E) After a short distance turn right on to a track and follow it until it reaches a tarred road at the Rushes. Continue straight across the fi elds to connect to the Swan Loop (see across). Turn left to follow the Slieve Margy Way. The Rushes is so called because of all the rushes that grew in the area. Sir Charles H. Coote Bart, Tory M.P. 1801 – 1802, built the old Rushes School (1807) to educate the local Catholic population who lived in the Bull Ring Village (no longer existing).

F) Upon reaching a T-junction at the main road turn right. Beware of traffic on the road. Turn left uphill at the Grove Lounge (Behan’s). Continue uphill, taking the next two left turns and then a steep right to follow the way marked way into Rossmore Forest.
As the ground rises to over 1,000 ft there are excellent views of the Barrow Valley, Dublin & Wicklow Mountains. This area forms part of the Castlecomer Plateau, which is bounded on the east by the Barrow Valley & the Nore Valley on the west. The Plateau is the centre of the Leinster Coalfields. Rossmore, Wolfhill and Castlecomer were once rich mining areas, with anthracite being the predominant coal mined.

The forests are owned & managed by Coillte.

G) Follow the way marked way through the forest and turn right onto the tarred road. At the Grotto junction turn left downhill for Uiseann Park. The grotto was originally erected at the new mines (1954) but it was later moved to its current location by the miners. Uiseann Park is the site of dancing boards (dancing every Sunday afternoon during summer) & a rural conference centre. There are spectacular views of the Barrow Valley, Carlow, Kildare, Wexford & Wicklow. The night time view of Carlow Town is impressive.


H) Cross the fields & follow the old Glosha Road to reach a hidden gem, Glosha Waterfall. Turn right onto a tarred road and follow the way marked way to reach Clogrennan Lock on the River Barrow. Follow the Barrow way to Graiguecullen. Clogrennan Lock was the last lock constructed on the River Barrow and it is unusual because it has no lift drop. On the outskirts of Graiguecullen is Carlow Lock. On the far banks are remains of the Norman Carlow Castle.

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Slieve Margy Way to Swan Loop

(See E ) Cross the fields to emerge into the carpark of the Rushes Pub. Turn left along the national main road (N78) to reach a series of stiles, which run parallel to the road. The last style emerges at a T – Junction to cross the national main road (N78) leading down a minor road. Beware of traffi c on the road. At the fi rst junction, turn left down a laneway & shortly afterwards cross the fi elds to reach another laneway, turn left. At a crossroads turn right along a forest road. At the next junction turn right onto a tarred road and walk uphill into Wolfhill to the start of the Swan Loop. At Slatt, on the road into Wolfhill, the famous 1798 rebellion leader, Fr. Murphy camped here with his army. Many of the dead rebels are buried in the local graveyard. A monument was erected at Slatt in 1998.

Swan Loop:
A) Park the car at Wolfhill Church. Walk down a laneway, which leads into a forested area. Follow the laneway until it reaches a tarred road at Fennell’s Crossroads, turn right for Phelim’s Crossroads.

Wolfhill – hill of the howling wolves. Situated over 800ft on the Slieve Margy Ridge. Coal mining was carried out in the area for over 300 years. Enroute at a junction there is evidence of a Lime Kiln, he “burnt” lime was used to fertilise the land.

B) At Phelim’s Crossroads turn left. Follow the tarred road through forested countryside to a crossroads, turn left down a laneway.
A Druids Altar, a chambered cairn (tomb) gives its name to the townland, Monamanry, the Plateau of the Druidesses.
The unknown origin & use of the bronze age stone circle adds mystery to the area. (Turning right at the T – Junction leads onto the Fossy Mountain Walk, see Timahoe Walks ).

C) The laneway soon becomes a track through a forested area. The end of the trackway forms into a tarred road which leads downhill into the Swan. Turn left at the T – Junction. At the crossroads in the middle of the Swan turn left uphill and follow the road to Wolfhill. Although heavily forested, the walk into the Swan offers some excellent views. In a field beside the Swan T – junction is a Bum Stone. Here coal dust/ culm and clay were mixed together to make Bums, a solid fuel. The Swan is named after the local pub. The area is famous for its fireclay factories located in the Swan & Wolfhill.

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