The Comeraghs

Blue Way of County Tipperary III

We have walked 11 kilometres and deserve a break. Today’s walk is only 1 km long. The season is Autumn.

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The Poulakerry Tower House is often called a castle, which is fine. There is no need to be over-specific when we speak about a 600 years old building that still stands and is lived in. You can also call it a keep.

The tower house was built by the Butler Fitzwilliams family to guard the crossing over the river, demand tolls, and who knows what else as they had a reputation of ‘robber barons’. During the Cromwellian invasion, the house was taken and its defenders killed. Majority of castles and keeps suffered from sieges and were left in ruins. Excellent location saved the Poulakerry tower house: it was repaired and used as a garrison. Over the centuries the house changed hands and was restored in the 1970s to become a family home.

The river makes an S-bend at the tower house. Peaceful fields lay on the north bank and the steep wooded slopes of the Comeragh Mountains rise on the south.

Robins here are fearless. You can stand pretty close with your camera and admire their Christmas Card cuteness.

Landscape House is another landmark. Built in the 1790-s as a part of the Mount Congreve Estate it was extended over the years. Somehow this property is associated with Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott, a British land agent, whose name became immortalized after he issued eviction orders to his tenants in Co Mayo. Nowadays evictions are not a novelty anymore, and no new words have been created… The Captain leased a farm in Tipperary, it is all I know. If I learn more about the ‘association’, I will update this post.

A legendary horse trainer and rider Phonsie (Alphonsus Septimus) O’Brian and his wife bought the house in the 1970’s after the sale of their Thomastown Castle property. You might also know their daughter’s company name – Lily O’Brien’s. Both the House and the chocolate & desserts company were sold in 2018.

This is the most beautiful stretch of the river.

The lower slopes of the Comeraghs adorned with yellow and red foliage.

Majestic Slievenamon stands on the opposite side of the river.

A couple of swans are glowing in the afternoon sun.

Not only the swans – myriads of mayflies are glowing like little lanterns (early September).

Another robin enjoying the warmth of sunlight.

The sun rolled behind the hill. Two egrets call it a day and depart for the trees.

Pied ( or Water) wagtail is a resident at the Poulaberry and Kilsheelan Bridge parts of the river.

We stop before the Garden and the bridge – more about these landmarks in my next blog post when we will walk to Gurteen de la Poer Castle you see under the bridge arch.

Thank you for reading and walking with me ❤

  Have a wonderful weekend!

Magic road to the Mahon Falls

mahon falls

It was a sunny day elsewhere, but Mahon Falls greeted me with a perfect rainbow towering over the mountains. This picture was not retouched – all the colors are natural. I parked at the bottom of the Magic Road and held my breath. I used a wide lens for this picture, but in fact the rainbow was so close that I could see the colors on the grass just a few meters away.

I drove under the rainbow and turned around the corner wondering what the Falls look like today, and sure there was a good reason for the rainbow to appear because the Coum Mahon was hosting a huge cloud. I found a spot, parked my car and fearlessly walked into the cloud.

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I did it three times and had to return half way because the rain and the wind made it impossible to take any picture of the waterfall.

This was the worst moment. The lens got all wet and foggy, and I had to give up.

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On the other side of the car park the weather was beautiful and even my windscreen was dry. I parked so that I could see the ocean and the rainbow.

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I didn’t get to see the Falls that day, but other photo opportunities were literally running around 🙂

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The cloud was still there but the rest of the world was dry and sunny.

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The sheep decided to migrate, and it was fun to watch them

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There was nothing else to see and I went home to return in two weeks.


This time the sky was blue with no clouds and rainbows. I approached the Magic Road, took this picture, drove a little bit further down the hill, and because there were no cars around, I did what everyone else does in this place: put my car in neutral, and rolled UPHILL with lively speed and style. This is a magic road after all 🙂

magic road

Some people say it is an optical illusion and there is no elevation. Look by yourself. This car was rolling backwards on neutral from where I stand. The family inside it were so excited that the driver forgot to use his steering wheel and almost drove the car in the ditch. There definitely is an elevation, and I actually started even further down the hill. You can watch a good few videos on Youtube about this road. Fairy magic, if you ask me.

magic road

These Hawthorn trees should give you a clue of where the magic comes from.

Comeraghs

Coum Mahon in all its glory. The path to the waterfall is about one mile long, and there is no climbing necessary. The path is wheelchair accessible almost all the way down to the Falls. Coum Mahon is V-shaped, unlike the other coums (hollows) in the Comeraghs that are U-shaped. By the way, the word Comeragh, or Cumarach  in Irish, means ‘full of hollows’. Many of the hollows nestle lakes.

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Semi-wild sheep are perched on the edge of the cliff.  If you are lucky, you might see a herd of feral goats around the Coumshingaun ridge nearby.

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Black slug is a common sighting. The slugs are quite big and alien-looking.

With very little rain this winter, the Falls don’t look too impressive, but nevertheless it is the most visited and loved place. It is advertised as a picnic area, with which I totally disagree. The wind is usually very strong here, and if everyone decided to bring a takeaway with them, the place would be littered in no time. If you come to visit Mahon Falls, please eat in your car with the doors closed.

Mahon Falls are a 80 m high series of cascading waterfalls. River Mahon begins her jorney from the high plateau of the Comeraghs, falls down the steep back wall and continues to the village of Bunmahon where she drains into the Celtic Sea.

It is possible to ascend the slope quite close to the waterfall. The most popular is the right hand side route, but I have also seen people climbing the left hand side of the Falls. In both cases you have to be very careful. In 2014, two people got trapped on a steep cliff at 45 m with no way down. Luckily, they were able to call rescue services, and were lifted off the cliff by a helicopter crew.

This is a closer view of the lower cascade. I was planning to climb to the upper cascade, but I saw a photographer set up his tripod in the middle of the falls,  and didn’t want to bother him. I climbed to the flat rock over which the water flows down, continued half way to the upper cascade, and returned to the valley.

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Lower cascade.

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Upper cascade. I would love to climb along the gorge and take pictures of entire waterfall, but the surface was quite wet and slippy, and I didn’t even have hiking footwear, just a pair of Skechers boots.

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A view from the top of the lower cascade.

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River Mahon heading south 🙂 The blue stripe at the edge of the picture is the Celtic Sea.

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A long walk back to the car park. The sky looks washed out because there is not a single cloud in the sky, and the valley is in the deep shadow.

My plan was to continue driving to take more pictures of the other parts of the Comeraghs, but when I reached the tiny upper car park, I was absolutely blinded by the sun and had to reverse and drive back to where I came from. The contrast between the bright sun and deep shadow was striking. In the picture below you see Majestic Knockaunapeebra lit by the bright sun.

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So, that was my latest trip to the Mahon Falls. Here are some photographs of the Hawthorn trees. This one was taken on that stormy day when the rainbow was hanging over the mountains for all the duration of my visit.

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This one was taken on my way home after the second trip.

And this is the most famous rag tree that is guarding the Magic Road.

rag tree

If you are interested in climbing the Comeraghs,  read the De La Salle Scout group website.

Thank you for enjoying the magic of Mahon Falls with me. What do you think about the Magic Road and Fairy Power? 🙂

Here are links to my previous Comeragh blogs -1- , -2-  and  -3-

inesemjphotography  Have a wonderful weekend!