Routes

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Rathkeale to Abbefeale

The Southern Trail is generally a Class 2 walking and cycling trail. While this trail can be cycled – it is necessary to dismount to open gates along the route.

Rathkeale to Ardagh

This is a level section and begins at the Old Station [now the Palatine Centre; a museum dedicated to the settlers from the Palatinate in Germany who arrived in Ireland 300 years ago to escape persecution www.irishpalatines.org . After a few hundred metres the River Deel is crossed and then the trail moves to the north of the N21, crossing the road by means of a riverside underpass. The westward journey continues through lands associated with the Palatines. Five beautiful cut-stone overhead bridges are encountered on the trail to Ardagh. Just before the third one, on the right, can be seen the ancient Churchyard at Clounagh and the ruins of 15th Century Lisnacille Castle in the distance. On the approach to the fourth bridge, about a mile further on, a local road at a right angle [90 degrees] to the trail leads to Cahermoyle House (now a private Nursing Home) which has associations with William Smith O’ Brien leader of the 1848 Young Ireland rebellion. The fifth bridge is at Ardagh Station from where the village, St. Molua’s Well and the old fort where the Ardagh Chalice was found in 1868 can be visited.

 


Ardagh to Newcastle West

This section is level at each end with a ‘dip’ in the middle in the form of a 1% gradient. It passes through pleasant pastoral farmland with views of the surrounding hills. As Newcastle West is approached the River Daar is bridged. 500 metres further on the R521 is crossed on the level and Newcastle West station is entered. The only survivors of the railway age are the restored Station House (private) and the mature oak trees which lined the approach avenue.

Newcastle West to Barnagh

This was one of the most arduous challenges in the age of the steam train as it is an uphill journey for most of the way. However, the gradients never exceed 2% and the reward for those continuing westward is that it is downhill all the way from Barnagh to Abbeyfeale. The trail route is 3Km longer than the N21 as the train needed a more gentle incline.1Km outside Newcastle West there is on overhead bridge and then there are three level crossings giving access to minor roads.7Km from Newcastle West a quiet road (L1329) comes alongside the trail. This road climbs into the Rooskagh Hills and is well worth a visit as it leads to the bog lands and provides wonderful views of the Limerick Plains and the Golden Vale. It also provides the opportunity to loop back onto the trail at the aforementioned level crossings and elsewhere further west. Continuing on the trail the L1329 is crossed by a high bridge and then Ferguson’s Viaduct is traversed. Shortly after the viaduct the railway was incorporated into the N21 and now the trail becomes a dedicated roadside tarmacadam cycleway, with excellent views, for 2Km before regaining the railway at Barnagh Station. The trains entered Barnagh Station through a tunnel which can be visited along a ‘stand-alone’ 1Km section of the old railway. Access to the tunnel is from the lay-by at Barnagh on the N21 (Westbound)

Barnagh to Abbefeale

The N21 roadside cycleway continues into a short section of a cul-de-sac road before the sight of old telegraph poles indicate that the railway has been regained. This was the western end of Barnagh Station; the tunnel and railway house are at the far side of the N21. The route is pleasant passing through cuttings and embankments and under two stone bridges. The village of Templeglantine becomes visible on the left and is reached along the L21006. Templeglantine is a good starting point for a side trip to Glenquin Castle (restored) [5Km] and Killeedy Castle (ruin)/ St. Ita’s Churchyard [7km].This excursion will also afford great views of a modern Wind farm.

The L21006 leads to the trail where a left turn is taken for Abbeyfeale. After 2Km Tullig Wood is entered and its tranquil atmosphere is in sharp contrast to the noisy N21 only a couple of fields away. Shortly after the restored station at Devon Road is passed; once serving a local Creamery. The trail now levels out as it comes parallel to the River Allaghaun and keeps company with it until Abbeyfeale. One stone bridge spans the trail and 2km later the Station at Abbeyfeale is reached. Turn left onto the R524 for the town centre.

Templeglantine – Abbeyfeale – Kerry border (Kilmorna)

Opposite the Church the L21006 leads to the trail where a left turn is taken for Abbeyfeale. After 2Km Tullig Wood is entered and its tranquil atmosphere is in sharp contrast to the noisy N21 only a couple of fields away. A little further on the restored station (house private) at Devon Road is passed; once serving a local Creamery.The trail now levels out as it comes parallel to the River Allaghaun and keeps company with it until Abbeyfeale. One stone bridge spans the trail and 2km later the Station (house private) at Abbeyfeale is passed.  (Exit left onto the R524 for the town centre). Continuing Westwards toward Co. Kerry the river Oolagh is bridged and Purt Castle (ruin) soon appears on the left, as does the river Feale.