Coole Park – a cool place to visit

56 of our Ramblers group headed to the fabulous Coole Park Nature Reserve last week for a guided tour with the very knowledgeable guides, Aine and Jenni.

As well as learning about the history of Coole Park Demense and Lady Gregory and her family, you get to wander through woodland paths following in the footsteps of some of Ireland most renowned writers – WB Yeats, JM Synge, George Bernard Shaw, and Sean O’Casey. The autograph tree which stands near the former site of the great house is an historical monument in itself, containing the autographs of Lady Gregory’s visitors to Coole Park.

Do not leave without a visit to the tea rooms for a home baked tasty treat!

A trip to Newmarket on Fergus

30 eager walkers joined us for our guided walk in Newmarket on Fergus on 23rd February last.

We left Newmarket on Fergus town walking towards Mooghaun and continuing to Carrownakilly, before returning to our start point for a well earned cuppa.

We had surprisingly warm weather for this time of the year and we were treated to beautiful birdsong along the way.

Our next guided walk will take place on Thursday 9th March in Flagmount.

If you would like to come along, or find out more, please text or WhatsApp 086 358 6293.

A walk along the Shannon in O’Brien’s Bridge

We were delighted to see 38 walkers arrive in O’Brien’s Bridge this morning for our ‘Ramblers’ guided walk on the Errinagh Bridge Loop. And the weather could not have been nicer.

We were led by the very knowledgeable Maura Turner, who brought us along the embankment on the Shannon Headrace, taking a slight detour to one of the the old locks on the Killaloe – Limerick canal.

We started our return trip following the old towpath along the River Shannon. Sections of this path have recently been repaired by the local community group.

Arriving back to O’Briens Bridge village, we had a well deserved refreshment stop in B14 coffee shop, offering soup, sandwiches and delicious array of sweet treats.

If you would like to do this walk, it is very well marked –

Our next walk will take place on Thursday 23rd February. If you would like to find out more, please text or WhatsApp Arlene on 086 358 6293.

View from the embankment on the Headrace

A guided walk in Fanore – and we’ll all be going back for more!

We were joined by 31 walkers last Thursday 1st September for the most amazing walk in Fanore.

The walk was led by Joe Queally, who was born and reared in Fanore, and shared stories of local history and folklore with us.

Joe encouraged us to spend some time lying on the rocks taking time out to forgive ourselves and others who may have hurt us in the past.

Once Joe coaxed us all up from lying peacefully in the sunshine we took off again over limestone rocks and climbing stone walls; it was an adventure to say the least; But we were treated to some tasty brown bread, black pudding and bacon provided by Joe.

We collected €180 in donations on the day towards the RNLI, an essential organisation with which Joe is very involved.

A huge thanks to Joe for leading this amazing walk, and thanks to all those who came along and donated.

Our next walk is on Thursday 15th September just outside the village of Feakle.

Walking, history and scones in Whitegate

25 eager walkers joined us for a guided looped walk in Whitegate last Thursday, and although we got a little bit (or a lot) wet, it was an enjoyable morning.

This 7km looped walk was held in association with the College of Further Education, Scariff, to celebrate Heritage Week 2022, and we stopped Derrainy Cillín, a children’s burial ground, located in an extremely tranquil setting in Derrainy townland.
“Researching Sacred Sites along the East Clare Way” has been run through the College of Further Education, Scariff in 2021 & 2022 and Derrainy Cillín was one such site that was researched during this course, the findings of which were presented at the site on the day.

We were also lucky to have two very knowledgeable local historians with us to provide some fascinating information along the route – thanks to Tommy Holland and Michael Ryan.

Some curious donkeys and a pony came to say hello on our way back to the Half Barrell in Whitegate, where we got to enjoy fresh homemade scones and endless supplies of tea and coffee.

A Ramble in Ogonnelloe

We had a fabulous walk in Ogonnelloe on Thursday last with a group of 26 eager walkers. Starting at St. Molua’s Church, we headed for Aughinish point, led by local ladies Anne Forde and Anne O’Driscoll.

From here we walked through some forestry trails, where we were treated to beautiful birdsong along the way.

Returning to quiet road, with great views of Tountinna in Co. Tipperary, we headed back to Ogonnelloe having walked about 6.5kms. We returned to Josie Anne’s Pattesiere for sone tasty lunch and we’ll earned tea and coffee.

Our next walk will take place on Thursday 2nd June – location TBC.

The mysterious woman on the plaque……

Have you ever heard of Annie M.P. Smithson?

I hadn’t until our Guided Heritage Walk on 19th August last brought us past her former temporary residence – a small cottage near Kilnasoolagh Church of Ireland chuch in Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare.

A few of us stopped outside the wall of the cottage as we were intrigued by a concrete plaque which hung on the wall of the cottage which read “Chónaigh ANNIE M.P. SMITHSON Údar agus Banaltra anseo 1907 – 1910”.  For those who don’t speak Irish (or those that have forgotten it from your school days) it reads “ANNIE M.P. SMITHSON Author and Nurse lived here 1907 – 1910”

I took a photo of this plaque so that I could do a little bit of research on this lady and her link to the area. I must admit I was a little in awe when I started doing some research on this lady and her fascinating life.

Annie Mary Patricia Smithson was an Irish novelist, poet and Nationalist. She was born into a Protestant family in Sandymount in Dublin in September 1873.

Her mother and father were first cousins and her father died when she was young. About 1881 her mother married her second husband, Peter Longshaw, who owned a chemical factory in Warrington in Lancashire. As a result Smithson lived for a number of years in England. She disliked her stepfather and referred to him always as Mr Longshaw. There were five children from this marriage.

She was christened Margaret Anne Jane, but took the names Anne Mary Patricia (Annie M.P.) on her conversion to Catholicism.  She converted to Catholicism in March 1907 and became a fervent Republican and Nationalist. She became a member of Cumann na mBan and campaigned for Sinn Féin in the 1918 general election.

Smithson always had dreams of becoming a journalist but abandoned this ambition in order to train as a nurse and a midwife. She trained in London and Edinburgh, before returning to Dublin in 1900. In 1901 she took up a post as district nurse in Millton, Co. Down. There she fell in love with her colleague Dr James Manton, a married man. Deciding that a relationship was impossible, she left Millton in 1906. They kept up a correspondence until her conversion to Catholicism in 1907, when she burnt his letters.


She was Secretary and Organiser of the Irish Nurses Organisation from 1929 to 1942. She wrote for the Irish Nurses’ Magazine and edited the Irish Nurses Union Gazette.

In 1917 she published her first novel, Her Irish Heritage, which became a best-seller. It was dedicated to those who died in the Easter Rising of 1916. Smithson published many journal articles but is best known for her romantic novels which have a strong Nationalist tone. In all, she published twenty novels and two short story collections. Other successful novels included By Strange Paths and The Walk of a Queen. Many of her works are highly romantic and draw on her own life experiences, with nationalism and Catholicism featuring as recurrent themes. In 1944 she published her autobiography, Myself – and Others.

From 1932 onwards she shared a house in Rathmines, Dublin with her stepsister and her stepsister’s family. She died on 21 February 1948 of heart failure at 12 Richmond Hill, Dublin and was buried in Whitechurch, County Dublin. What an amazing life she led….and she lived in Newmarket-on-Fergus.

Just goes to show, you never know the history you are passing by when you are out for a walk!

A fantastic day on one of our newest Looped Walks

It’s not often in this country that we are worried about walking 7km in such heat but this happened us recently with our Guided Walk for Active Agers from Tulla on 28th June.

Despite the heat, even at the early start time of 10:30am, 12 brave walkers joined us at our office in Tulla armed with sun-cream and bottles of water to walk the Cloondorney Looped walk. This loop took us from Tulla along the banks of Cloondorney Lake and we returned  to Tulla on a track which was previously only used to get access to the bog.

Up until recently this track was waterlogged and impassable by foot in some parts. However, with grant funding through the Outdoor Recreation Scheme administered through Clare County Council, we were able to do some repair work to this route which has now created a fantastic 7km looped walk which follows quiet county roads, forestry and bogland. We were glad of the gentle breeze while walking along the banks of Cloondorney Lake, which is 40 acres in area and holds most species of coarse fish.

Welcome cups of tea & coffee and some fresh baked scones from Flappers Restaurant in the Clare Walks office on our return gave us a great opportunity to have a chat and cool down.

The next Guided walk for Active Agers will take place on Thursday 26th July @ 11am (Route TBC).



“Heaven on Earth”

Ballycuggaran, Killaloe East Clare Way

16 eager walkers put on their hiking boots last Saturday, 21st April, to ‘Battle Ballycuggaran’ – a 6km looped walk along part of the East Clare Way.

This guided walk was organised to highlight and promote the activities available on/near the Lough Derg Blueway. The Blueways in Ireland are a set of multi activity trails and sites which are closely linked with the water. The Lough Derg Blueway encompasses a series of Blueway paddling trails with many complimentary walking and cycling trails.

The Ballycuggaran Looped Walk  starts at Two-Mile-Gate, just outside Killaloe. The walk follows forest road, forest track and minor road through dense forest and open hillside on the shoulders of Feenlea Mountain and Crag. The beautiful expanse of Lough Derg lies below you.

It would not have been possible to have better weather for this walk. The sun shone down, there was hardly a cloud in the sky and the views were spectacular.

It was such an enjoyable walk that I think we will have to organise another guided walk at some stage during the Summer months, so watch this space! However, if you would like to try this walk yourself, here is a link to a map of the walk. 


Guided Walk on the Lough Derg Blueway – Saturday April 21st @ 11am:

Ballycuggaran, Killaloe East Clare Way

Want to experience the Lough Derg Blueway? Come along and enjoy a free Guided Walk on the Ballycuggaran Loop, along the East Clare Way walking route, where you will see the beautiful expanse of Lough Derg beneath you.
This walk is 7km and follows forest road, forest track and minor road through dense forest and open hillside on the shoulders of Feenlea Mountain and Crag. Please bring suitable walking shoes/boots, waterproof clothing and fluid. MEETING POINT: Two-Mile-Gate, Killaloe @ 11am.

Click here for a detailed map of the walk