(Dursey Island, Cork where the walk begins. Image: Shutterstock)
A 500 KILOMETRE walkway through 10 counties and four provinces is ready for hiking.
The Beara-Breifne Way, Ireland’s longest walking trail, links counties Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, Offaly, Galway, Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim and Cavan.
In local areas, the Way is divided into a series of smaller routes to make the walking trail more accessible and achievable.
It was the largest community based project undertaken in the country, involving twelve local walking trails, and with 240 farmers living on the Beara Way alone, the scale of community collaboration becomes clear.
It retraces the steps of O’Sullivan Beare in 1603 from Beara to Leitrim through farmlands, forest paths, remote bog lands, ancient heritage sites, unique villages and landscapes.
The Beara-Breifne Way walk will take you through Portumna and by Lough Derg. (Image: Shutterstock)
The story goes that in the aftermath of the Battle of Kinsale, Donal Cam, chieftain of the O’Sullivan Beara clan, and his followers undertook this epic 14-day march. Many clans were involved in both the march and in the skirmishes which took place, and the story lends a historical theme to the route.
The Hymany Way
One of the walking trails that joined to form the Beara-Breifne walkway was the Hymany Way in east Galway, which begins in Portumna and runs to Ballygar.
Parke’s Castle in Leitrim which will also be passed along the route. (Image: Shutterstock)
Pat Glynn, who helped establish The Hymany Way says: “The route is all marked out with plaques, signposts and map-boards that tell walkers all about the surrounding local myths, ruins, various sites, nature and hedgerows.”
Anybody can walk the Way at any time as local farmers have given access through their lands.
As a general rule, it is best to be “over prepared than underprepared and waterproof clothing and boots are essential,” said Glynn. Depending on how far walkers plan on going, they should carry food and water, as well as a first aid kit.
Enda Kenny with Jim O’Sullivan, organising committee of Beara-Breifne Way (left) and Michael Starrett, CEO of Heritage Council at the launch of the Beara-Breifne Way Heritage Stamps and Walking Passport. (Image: MerrionStreet.ie/Flickr)
Beara-Breifne Way Heritage Stamps and Walking Passport have also been launched so now all walkers can collect a stamp based on the heritage of each town and the village the pass through.
The Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the “development ultimately provides walkers and cyclists, either visiting Ireland or holidaying at home, with a unique experience of our countryside on a route through ten counties from Cork to Leitrim. It is great to see tourism infrastructure like this being delivered in the year of the Gathering 2013 and there is no doubt that projects like this will encourage continued growth for the future.”
*We don’t for one second think this walk will be easy – it just made for a good headline.