Ireland day 0292. Sunday 17 July 2022- Slievecorragh

Ireland day 0292. Sunday 17 July 2022- Slievecorragh
Today’s summary Val was at work all day so I decided to join the walking club for a very enjoyable day out , exploring Slieve Corragh and its surroundings from the village of Hollywood.   I would never have found the start of the walk or the route to the top of the hill if I hadn’t been with the club.
Today’s weather Dry and bright.   Plenty of hazy sun.   Light southerly wind.   About 24C
Today’s overview location
(The blue mark shows the location of our route)
Close-up location
(The green line shows where we walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Slieve Corragh from the road

A day out in Hollywood sounds pretty exotic, doesn’t it?   So when just that opportunity arose on the calendar of the Dublin Walking Club today, I thought it sounded too good to miss.   But before anyone gets hold of the wrong end of the stick, I should clarify that although the weather felt quite Californian today, our destination was very much closer to home.   Though it has to be said that Hollywood, Co Wicklow, does boast a replica of the world renowned sign, just a bit smaller and surrounded by sheep, which I don’t think its Californian namesake is.

Hollywood is a small village on the western flanks of the Wicklow Mountains, just down the road from Blessington.   It’s not completely clear how it got its name – it possibly came from the abundant holly trees which grew near here in earlier times (an old Irish name for the village is Cnoic Rua which means “Red Hill” – an oblique reference to the abundant holly berries in winter).   Or perhaps it was named after a holy wood – though which St Kevin passed on his way to Glendalough.   Anyway, today it was to be the starting point for a couple of short walks.  In the morning, an ascent of the lovely small hill Slieve Corragh, then in the afternoon a stroll along the first part of St Kevin’s Way, before it heads east and up to the Wicklow Gap.

Unfortunately, Val was enthusiastically working up at Malahide castle today, so given that I had some spare places in the car, I picked up a couple of walking club friends from just down the road and we car shared for the 50 minute drive round the M50 and down the N81 to Hollywood.   I enjoy car sharing – it’s much more fun to have people to talk to as you potter along, and with petrol prices creeping ever upwards, you feel you are doing you bit both for the cost of living crisis, and for the environment.

We were quickly down in Hollywood where the group convened over – yes you guessed it – coffee and scones.   I really must find out how they manage to make such nice scones in Ireland.   It’s been a real revelation.   Once we were all suitably fortified with carbs and caffeine, we got back in the cars and drove a short way down the R756, below the slopes of Slieve Corragh on our right (the R756 by the way is the road which goes over the Wicklow Gap and on into Glendalough).

At this point I realised that one of the great advantages of being in a walking club is that all the hard work of finding and recce-ing the route and negotiating things like parking has been done for you.   I can honestly say that if I hadn’t been with the club today, there is no way in a million years that I would have found the start point for or our walk.   It’s tucked away behind a couple of abandoned trailers, halfway down what looks like someone’s private drive.   A completely non-obvious spot.

Anyway, once we were all safely assembled on the launch pad for our walk, we headed up a broad track which soon gave way to an almost invisible thin path which disappeared into the forest, then an even thinner and less visible trod up to the top of the hill.

The summit itself is curious.   Quite unlike anything I’d come across before, in fact.   For a start, there’s an elegant bronze chair fixed in the middle of the heather, commanding an expansive view out east over Kildare (you can read the sad story of the chair in the photo legend below).   Then there is a huge ruined cairn of unknown origin, and to top it all off there are numerous radio transmitters – which don’t look big enough to be mobile phone or TV masts, but aren’t small enough to be amateur radio stations.   Very curious.

We paused on the top to admire the view and then headed back down again, with a lunch stop en route before returning to the cars.   But the day wasn’t finished yet.   We drove down to Hollywood, parked the cars and set off on a short walk down the first section of St Kevin’s Way – the pilgrimage track we had done the second part of – over the Wicklow Gap – a few weeks ago.   This first section of the Way passes through attractive meadowland with a statue of the omnipresent St Kevin keeping a sharp eye on proceedings from a lofty eyrie high above the valley – and St Kevin’s (not-so-) comfy chair on the valley floor below.

The short out-and-back walk made a nice end to the day – and means there’s only an 8km / 5mi section of the Way between the point where we turned back today, and the point where we started the walk earlier this year – which I haven’t done yet.   I’ll definitely need to make sure I close it off soon.   Anyway, by this stage after a day spent rambling in the warm sunshine, we were all feeling in needed of refreshment so headed straight over to the Hollywood Inn for a few refreshing (if not entirely authentic) glasses of non-alcoholic beer for the drivers.

We lingered to catch up on the week’s news and to learn the final score in the men’s All-Ireland hurling final at Croke Park (Limerick beat Kilkenny 1-31 to 2-26, much to most Walking Club members’ delight but to Val’s evident disappointment later that evening, given her family connections to Kilkenny).   Then we packed up and went our separate ways back to Dublin.   After dropping off my walking companions, I hot footed it back to Malahide where Val – despite having been out a work all day – had prepared chicken curry for dinner.   What excellent service!   Anyway it’s my turn tomorrow so it will probably be beans on toast.   Well, you have to focus on your strengths!


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

This curious structure is fixed to a wire fence right in the middle of Hollywood.   On closer inspection you can see its made up of squashed tin cans – 315 of them in fact.   It’s designed in the pattern of a labyrinth and is a copy of the pattern found on the “Hollywood Stone” – an ancient engraved 1.2m / 4ft  boulder found nearby in 1908, and today located in the National Museum.  The stone is probably a rare example of a mediaeval labyrinth and may have marked the start of a pilgrimage route.   Anyway, the tin can copy reproduces the pattern and was constructed as part of Hollywood’s entry into a Tidy Towns competition in 2018 On the top of Slieve Corragh there’s a ruined cairn.   I can’t find any reference to it on any map nor online, so I have no idea about its provenance.   It could be relatively recent, or perhaps much older – a Neolithic chambered cairn, perhaps?
St Kevin’s Way (which runs from Hollywood to Glendalough) passes through a quiet secluded valley below Slieve Corragh.   To the side of the path is an outcrop of granite which does look remarkably like a chaise longue.   Unsurprisingly, given St Kevin’s prevalence in these parts, it is known as St Kevin’s Chair.   Obviously I had to try it out.   Very ergonomic, but could do with a bit more padding (the chair that is, not me) Although it might not look like it from the fearsome notices fixed to the gate, this is actually the entrance to part of St Kevin’s Way.   The Way passes through very pleasant meadow-like pastureland beyond the gate and evidently some form of permissive access must have been negotiated with the landowner
There was a sheep pen just to the side of the Way, and obviously from the bales of wool and the naked-looking sheep nearby, a shearing operation had just finished.   The wool was all neatly baled up, but seemed to have been just left in the pen for someone to collect later.   I hope it doesn’t rain in the meantime. Hollywood is an attractive faming village with a nice café and a charming pub.   Some of the buildings look like they could have come straight from Upper Wensleydale, in Yorkshire.
The Slieve Corragh memorial chair, cast in bronze, commemorating the life of a young local man, Dan Clancy, who died of cancer at the age of 31 in New York.   He was brought up with his family on the slopes of Slieve Corragh and after he died, his brother Andrew sculpted this chair in his memory.   It is said to have been modelled an old chair that they had grown up with in the family kitchen.   It was fixed to this point, close to the summit, a few months after his death in 2004.   Dan’s wedding ring is slipped over one of the rails in the back of the chair.   It’s a poignant spot and enjoys magnificent views over Kildare.
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 2995 m
Max elevation: 413 m
Min elevation: 307 m
Total climbing: 146 m
Total descent: -146 m
Total time: 02:55:07
Download file: Slieve Corragh Summit compressed corrected.gpx

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