North Tipperary Trails Group as part of their ‘Get to Know your Local Walks Programme’ are encouraging everyone to take part in the Upperchurch-Drombane Development Association’s Annual Night Hike on the 18th of December. The two communities of Upperchurch and Drombane have been involved for many years in developing tourism products including hillwalking. There are four National Looped Walks in the area which attract many walkers from around the country and the successful annual Upperchurch Walking Weekend held in November is growing year on year.
The night walk this year will take place around the Knockalough Loop, 8Km’s of which will be covered in the night. Interesting folklore surrounds the Knockalough loop and tales of a Robin Hood figure known as Eamonn a Chnoic (Ned of the Hill) who roamed the hills in the 17/18th Century have been retold on many guided walks around this loop. Eamonn a Chnoic became one of a band of rapparees who championed the cause of the poor and many legends are told of these men and their deeds. The loop explores an area which is associated with Red Hugh O’Donnell – the last Chieftain of Tir Conaill (County Donegal). Born in 1572, Red Hugh is famed for his imprisonment in Dublin Castle in 1587 and escape attempts in 1591 and 1592. Red Hugh had a crucial role in battles like the Battle of the Yellow Ford in 1598 and the Battle of the Curlews in 1599. But he was ultimately defeated at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601, having led his army along practically the entire length of Ireland, often covering over 40 miles a day, to meet his Spanish allies. In walking this loop you will be retracing some of his journey up and around the hill of Knockalough.
The festive night walk begins at 7p.m from the Community Centre in Upperchurch and registration takes place 30 minutes prior to the walk. The walk will be guided by Richie Ryan and food can be ordered before you set off to be enjoyed when you return for €5. Reflections, carol singing, mulled wine and other Christmas treats will be offered on the night so why not put on your hiking boots for the last days of 2011 and take to the hills of Upperchurch with family and friends to enjoy this festive walk. Don’t forget to bring a lamp/torch to help you on your way.
According to Ruairi Deane, Chairperson of the North Tipperary Trails Group, “Walking is not just an amenity for locals but is also an important attractor for tourists to the county. The night walk is an alternative way to enjoy a looped walk at this time of year and is an opportunity for people to visit Upperchurch and engage in the seasonal festivities while getting to know a local walking route.”
All of the National looped walks in Tipperary are available on www.shannonregiontrails.ie where maps can be downloaded and information is available on the length and type of loop whether it’s through forest paths, country paths or along the lakeshore. The choice of walks as well as the improvement and development of walks in North Tipperary has progressed year on year through the collaborative work of the North Tipperary Trails Group which is made up of representatives from agencies such as North Tipperary LEADER, North Tipperary County Council, Shannon Development and the Rural Recreation Officer for Tipperary. Community groups, Coillte, FÁS, The Rural Social Scheme, Fáilte Ireland and land owners throughout the county have also played an important role in this process.
For more information on the Night walk please visit www.upperchurch.ie