Knockmealdown mountains through the seasons I

Last winter I posted Comeragh series to introduce my favorite mountains. Today I am taking you just a couple of miles west to the Knockmealdown range. We will cross Knockmealdown mountains twice – from Clogheen and from Newcastle, in summer and in winter. Today I will also share a few ten years old photographs from my hike across the western part of the range. Good old days 🙂

But first we have to drive through the village of Ardfinnan, and the most famous feature of Ardfinnan is not its castle, but its gaggle of geese. My former colleague, who is originally from Ardfinnan, once told me that it was his great-grandmother who left her geese to the village in the beginning of the 20th century. I cannot tell you how many generations of geese passed since their common ancestors waddled on the banks of River Suir. In winter they fly to the Marlfield lake and return by the end of February. It is a very well organised group, and you can see them crossing the road and walking around as they please.

Young goslings look very cute.

We drive to Clogheen and turn onto the road that takes us to The Vee  (V), a sharp hairpin bend. It is a scenic drive through the forest and the rhododendron bushes, up the side of the Sugar Loaf Hill. The Vee road was built after the Great Famine of 1847.

The Vee

As we are approaching The Vee, suddenly a breathtaking view opens up.

The Vee

Galtee mountains stand at the other end of the Golden Vale.

Patches of farmland change color with the seasons.

I think it is a good time for a good song about Kitty from Knockmealdown 🙂

Even better view after the switchback.

The Vee

The road goes on the side of the Sugar Loaf Hill, a mountain peak with elevation of 663 m. From the road you can see (and easy reach to) a beehive-shaped stone monument, the last resting place of the eccentric Mr Samuel R. Grubb, appointed High Sheriff of Tipperary (1855-1921). Mr Grubb came from a former Quaker family who had been cast out of the Quaker Society for their great fondness for dances and similar amusements. In his will he requested that he be buried “in a beautiful and romantic spot on the side of Sugar Loaf hills“, and his coffin be placed upright.  Tenants and employees of Mr Grubb carried his coffin to the grave.

The sheep are everywhere, adding excitement to the drive.

We stop at the viewpoint above the famous Bay Lough. Knocknalougha (Knockaunabulloga) Hill  is covered with thick rhododendron growth and looks all pink in May. As beautiful as it looks, rhododendron is an alien species, and spreads like a weed.

Why is Bay Lough famous? I will tell you everything in my Halloween post 🙂

The rest of the road looks more or less the same. On some stage the road forks: you can drive straight and visit Cappoquin, or take the right turn to Lismore.


Here are some photographs taken during the epic hike from the Bay Lough car park to Araglin. In the picture below you see the Bianconi hut and the Grotto. The hut served as shelter for Bianconi Coaches, horse-drawn carriages that provided transportation services around the south and south-west just for 1 penny a mile.

bianconi hut

This hike took place ten years ago in September 2007.


The highest peak of the range is Knockmealdown (794m). They say that on a  clear day the highest Kerry mountains can be seen from the summit.





Through the green tunnel, down the hill we are heading to Lismore. I will write about Lismore some other day.


We have crossed the Knockmealdowns through the Vee Gap that is well seen in my opening picture with the Sugar Loaf on the right and Knocknalougha on the left side. Next time we are going to take the other road, and you will see what the mountains look like in winter.

Thank you for your company!

www.inesemjphotography.comHave a wonderful weekend!


  1. I loved the patchwork quilt look of the crops on the mountains! Such a gorgeous overview, Inese!
    I loved the Sugar Loaf Hills’ winding road with the pretty rhododendrons. You included white geese and a funny colored sheep!
    That black faced sheep overlooking a foggy or misty hill was my favorite photo, dear Inese. 💖

      1. They have the sweetest faces! I forget have you followed Fourth Generation Farm Girl, Tonya? She lives over here but has beautiful photos of her sheep, Inese. xo 🐑 🐏

          1. She’s easily found since writing the name plus blog gets you there. She is a speech language therapist for children but helps her husband farm.

  2. Really a beautiful place, and the names are fancifully expressive. I love it. Your photos are wonderful! I was going to ask if that one sheep on the road is red and pink from the rhododendrons, but you answered it in the above comment. Still with all those rhododendrons,I can see why I thought that! Have a great week ahead!

    1. Resa, if they decided to walk through the rhododendron growth they would lose their fleece altogether 🙂 Once I went there on the cliff above the lake and though I could walk a little bit further. Just a few steps! I was wrong.
      Hope you have a fun and creative week!

    1. Yes, it spreads like wildfire. Of course the reason is always money: there was never enough money to control the growth. Especially now when it is out of proportion.

    1. Thank you so much, Cynthia! Sorry for the late reply – I am trying to catch up since I was nearly absent for a good couple of months. These mountains are easy to cross. They are mostly heather and patches of industrial forests, and they emanate loneliness. You will feel it in my winter pictures 🙂

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