By: Blonde Two
There is much to love about Ireland. I have now visited her fair shores for a grand (this word has a different meaning in Ireland) total of three all-too-short days, but formed my opinion long ago through songs, stories and maybe my own genetics. Everything that happened while Ali, my sister, and I were there confirmed my previous suspicions that I would feel at home. The walking was stunning, in a misty, wildly pretty kind of way (wild and pretty may be oxymoronic) and the Miners Way and Historical Trail was a walk through landscape and history so intriguing that I feel the need to one day return, complete the whole 118 kilometres and immerse myself in it all.
The Irish Welcome
Everywhere that wants to encourage tourism (and this area of Ireland needs to) sets claim to be welcoming but in Ireland the céad míle fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes) are real from the very first, ‘Hello how are you?’ (of which there were many). We spent our time with a fabulous and diverse group of people but each and every one of them was genuinely interested in us and eager to share their love of their country. The first and last Irishman we spoke to was Adrian, our taxi driver and by the time we had driven the two hours between Dublin Airport and Kilronan Castle (there is a nearer airport at Knock) we knew all about him, had heard some laugh-out-loud jokes (of which there will be many when you visit) and had a kiss goodbye!
The Irish Landscape
Ali and I were thrilled to stay in a once ruined castle (Kilronan Castle). We made good friends with ‘Sir William’ the knight (although sadly we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to say, ‘night, night, knight’) and had a stunning early morning swim in the Lough (lake).
What we didn’t initially realise was that the area around County Roscommon is so well populated with castles and lakes that we could well have been back somewhere else in time. The only landscape that really goes with castles and lakes must surely be the low, peaty, limestone hills that sit, shrouded but not hidden by the mist, in lines across the land, dividing the Loughs and offering tempting (but not impossible) walking.
The Irish History
I found out during our visit that I really don’t know enough about Irish history. To be sure, I knew before we went that the words, ‘English’, ‘uprising’ and ‘potato’ had significance but there is so much that I don’t know (and not much of it edifying if you are English). The Miners Way and Historical Trail do exactly what they say, they walk you through fascinating Irish history. On which other long distance walking trail can you go down a mine with a real miner (Arigna Mining Experience), find out more about the Irish involvement at Gallipoli (Kings House, Boyle) and scramble inside a megalithic tomb?
The Irish Leprechaun
I did check before I mentioned this, that it isn’t considered rude (bold) in Ireland to call someone a leprechaun, but Graham (I didn’t know previously that leprechauns had names) from The Irish Experience (also now firmly on the visit list) was perfectly happy to be so named. I don’t know much about leprechauns but this one has popped up in so many of my photos that I am hoping they are lucky. We did see a rainbow too but I stopped short of asking him to pose at the end of it for a photo.
The Miners Way and Historical Trail Ireland
The Miners Way and Historical trail is a long distance walking trail in Ireland. It starts and ends in Arigna in County Roscommon and is 118 kilometres long. This hiking trail was set up to encourage walkers to the area after the mines at Arigna closed in 1990 and some of the routes follow the paths trod by the miners on their way to work. Some sections of the Miners Way and Historical Trail are part of the almost completed Beara-Brefine Way, which, in turn, will form the first section of the Ireland Way, a complete South/North walking route up the middle of Ireland. Whilst the Miners Way and Historical Trail is generally completed in 5 days, it also offers a plentitude of beautiful day routes, each giving a taste of natural and historical Ireland.
We were invited on this trip by the Una Bhan Tourism Cooperative who covered our travel, accommodation and visitor expenses. All of the opinions expressed in this blog post are our own and are a true account of our experience.
The initiative was made possible by the Department of Rural and Community Development under the Funding Scheme for Outdoor Recreational Infrastructure 2017.