Do you have a grá (Irish for love!) for the hidden gems of Ireland?
Would you like to enjoy nature, scenic beauty, mystery & history, romantic ruins, cozy stone-built buildings, plus a nice cup of coffee & a bite to eat after a gentle bit of exploring?
Then Graiguenamanagh & St. Mullins are for you! I’ll share a wonderful way to get close to their charms!
The river Barrow is the second longest river in Ireland, and was used extensively to transport goods around the southeast. Towpaths were made alongside the river so horses could pull the barges, and this system was used for hundreds of years. Nowadays, these gentle, flat paths are used for pleasure walkers & cyclists, and are a perfect way to spend a few hours off the beaten track.
You can rent bikes – even electric ones!- from Graigue Bike & Hike in the medieval village of Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny, and cycle the (nice and flat) 4 miles to tiny St. Mullins, Co. Carlow.
There you can refresh yourself at the Mullichain Cafe with light lunch, coffee, cakes or even ice cream on a hot day- mmm! (The coconut macaroon pictured is delish!)
Along the way you’re likely to see plenty of bird life- swans, herons, songbirds, ducks, perhaps a sparrowhawk, swallows in season, or a Kingfisher if you keep your eyes peeled for their flash of turquoise blue. Otters are on the river, too, as the it is full of fish– you’ll also see a few people fishing (catch and release, need a license.)
Along with some pleasure barges on the river, the Barrow is also popular with kayakers. You can rent a kayak, go on a day trip or do a beginner’s paddle.
Rural countryside, woods, & stonewalled farms line the way, as well as charming old lockkeepers cottages, beautiful stone buildings, and the ruin of Tinnahinch Castle. The Blackstairs Mountains provide the backdrop, and are fantastic for a more adventurous hike.
When you get to St. Mullins & the Mullicháin, do walk up the hill to the ruins of St. Mullins abbey, where some of the ancient Kings of Leinster are buried.
Upon your return to Graiguenamanagh have a look at the 11century Duiske Abbey, still in use as a Catholic Church, wander around the village or just up the hill from the Abbey to Cushendale Traditional Woollen Mill.
After your not-so-hard afternoon’s cycle, you may want to call into the timeless Doyles’s hardware/pub just across from the abbey for a little refreshment– sure, you deserve a nice pint!
Find out more about renting bikes in Graiguenamanagh at http://www.watersideguesthouse.com/
Find out more about the Mullicháin Cafe at http://www.oldgrainstorecottages.ie (Be sure to ask Martin about the mysterious mullichains of the fairy mound & their 10 foot hurley!) Both places have seasonal accommodation.
For more on Cushendale Woollen Mill, and to buy their products online see http://www.cushendale.ie/
For more on Graiguenamanagh goings-on, check http://vibrantireland.com/category/ireland/kilkenny/graiguenamanagh/
This guest post was kindly submitted by Susan Fitzgerald of VibrantIreland.com. Susan lives in the Graiguenamanagh area and she is a frequent visitor to the places mentioned in this post. She’d like you to know that she and her husband got to use the bikes for free for the day, but paid for their own lunch.