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 πŸ™‚

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 Β (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 πŸ™‚

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. Β 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 Β 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 πŸ™‚

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 Β 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. πŸ’–

      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 πŸ‘ 🐏

  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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

  3. Dear Lady Inese, how wonderful to see you after such a long absence!! Knock-Me-Down from such amazing scenery. You had us walking everywhere, and my bones creaked a bit. I hope you didn’t hear the rickety noise — I was shaking more from excitement than from anything else. Thank you, my lady, for such an amazing tour. πŸ’

  4. The views by The Vee is indeed breathtaking, Inese! It’s rare that any of your posts have no photos of animals, so I always look forward to what feathered or furred creature you’ll share with us. You never disappoint. Happy week, dear friend! xo

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    > inesephoto posted: ” 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 win” >

  6. What a splendid documentary! Up-close and personal with wide and far-reaching views.
    It may be all about the journey, but every place is destined to be the end of someone’s trail.
    Thanks for the trip, Inese! πŸ™‚ Have a great Sunday! Cheerz, UT

  7. What wonderful hikes you had! And even though the rhododendrons are an alien plant they look really lovely πŸ™‚ Geese are awesome! Such stunning strength! Just heard them flying down south πŸ˜‰ Look forward to how it all looks in winter! xxxxxxxxxxx

    1. Thank you Derrick. Without the geese, Ardfinnan would be just another village πŸ™‚ They have a special parking lot for those who want to stop and admire their geese.

      1. I look forward to traveling to some of those places!! And with every trip you share, my bucket list grows πŸ˜€
        Thank you, Coach πŸ˜‰

  8. There is something in the unadulterated beauties of those meadows and downlands that rejuvenates the spirits. Perhaps the geese and sheep, and the alien gorse called rhododendron, can better connect to them. Thanks for the journey down the Vee Road.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! Glad you enjoyed this trip πŸ™‚ At least it was safe, and you didn’t get trapped in ‘virtually impenetrable’ rhododendrons like two hikers did in 2014, right above the Bay Lough πŸ™‚

      1. That is tragic. People drown in lakes and rivers, fall of cliffs (I nearly did), fall prey to wildlife, but getting trapped in rhododendrons would have been particularly unfortunate –it would have been a painful and protracted end.

  9. One of my fondest memories of a glorious week in Ireland—I desperately want to go back—is my first ever encounter with rear-painted sheep. Loved seeing them in all their colorful glory πŸ˜‰

  10. Such a lovely tune – far off Montreal – that’s where my ancestors migrated to from Ireland. Lovely pics as usual. Geese can be pretty aggressive though. I’ve had them attack me.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the song. From Knockmealdowns to Montreal, off they went for good.
      These wise birds don’t attack photographers πŸ™‚ They don’t even hiss, just move away a little bit. The locals would attack me if I had been disrespectful πŸ˜‰

  11. Excellente reportage, as always. Absolutely fell in love with the sheep randomly standing in the middle of the road πŸ™‚

  12. Love those white geese. They look cute. We have geese around here but they are grey one and are not quite friendly (at least from the way they look). I have not seen the blooming rhododendrons in abundance before they are beautiful.

    I am now curious to learn where those sheep go?

    1. Thank you so much! These geese had been domestic a hundred years ago, but since then they live by the river.
      The sheep either cross the road, or just sleep at the side of the road as it shelters them from the wind. Have to drive very carefully.

  13. I love this post for several reasons, Inese. Your trip to the Vee Valley is lovely and I love the tale about the geese in Ardfinnan. Your wonderful photos also brought back memories of our journey through the valley in 2002. I was hoping to see it all again this year, but now next year’s looking hopeful. The rest of your trip sounds (and looks) wonderful and I’m looking forward to find out about Bay Lough!

    1. Thank you so much Millie! I so hope you will make it to Tipperary next year. We might climb the Devils Bite together as it is not too far from where you usually stay.
      Yes, the Bay Lough story is coming on Halloween πŸ˜‰ I am even thinking about an additional trip πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much, Diana! Ardfinnan geese gaggle is a true legend πŸ™‚ It is about a hundred years old.
      The painted sheep are our hallmark. I was to Killarney the other day, and saw them in the middle of the road on many occasions.

  14. Wow Interesting! Love those gorgeous rhodos in bloom growing wild…amazing! The geese still scare me nowadays because as a young lad I was such an animal lover that I went to pet the baby geese and got a beak in the butt. I was around 5 or 6. The animal kingdom wasn’t as peaceful as I thought it was probably. Aww the pink sheep….. and one not painted which I guess would be anybody’s grab lol. I love the covered green tops over the road. Years to grow like that I would imagine. Very striking. Thank you for taking us on another wonderful tour

        1. Lol, I know! When I went to take these pictures, I was ready to pay the price, but to my surprise the geese just stood up and relocated a few meters away when they thought I came too close. Not even hissed. Nothing.

  15. Oh my! Inese I think you crossed into Thistledown and found one of my powder-puff sheep! πŸ˜€
    I’m amazed by the rhododendron bushes. I never knew they could grow like that. The geese were charming (although I’ve known them here to be pretty mean). The photos were so clear I could see the downy feathers remaining on the goslings. Thanks for this beautiful tour. Hugs on the wing!

    1. Thank you Teagan! The rhododendrons are beautiful but something has to be done to stop them spreading. It is an invasive species, foreign to Ireland 😦
      Read in the news the other day, a couple of hikers got lost in the rhododendron growth. Took a lot of effort to navigate them out to the lake. I am not surprised, I have been there once.
      The powder puff sheep, yes, we have them in all colors πŸ˜‰ Many hugs.

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