Croghan Hill in Co. Offaly is listed on MV as the most isolated hill in Ireland – in effect it is 32 kms from the nearest MV listed hill, which is the Ridge of Capard in the Slieve Blooms. I climbed Croghan Hill on Sunday, and in doing so I completed my Local 100 hills, and also hit the 200 summit milestone all in one go! It would also be the first time our 5 ½ month old daughter would travel on my back in the immensely useful harness/rucksack we were given as a present!
Exploring the minor roads that circle Croghan Hill, we found a spot at B (N488 330)
where there is a gate and a small concrete hut. I had asked a local man on the way up about climbing Croghan and he had said there was no problem going up through the fields on this side. There is room for one car to park safely on the verge at the gate
Through the gate we followed a track that led in about 15 minutes to an old graveyard at C (N482 330)
. It is surrounded by an old stone wall, and there are steps to cross the wall for those wishing to explore the ancient graveyard. These are on the west side near a locked gate. Talking to another local, he told me that this is where St Brigid received her veil from St Macaille when she became a nun. Another story says that she received her veil in Meath, but set up her convent here at Croghan Hill. This all happened 1500 years ago so information is sketchy! Nowadays the graveyard is overgrown with long grass and nettles, but it has a lovely atmosphere.
The summit cairn and trig pillar are just a few minutes uphill from here. A barbwire fence between the graveyard and the summit is easily crossed. The cairn at the summit (D (N481 331)
) is covered in grass and cattle were grazing freely. The views are absolutely breathtaking – flat farm and bogland sweep away in all directions for dozens of miles. The uninterrupted views really give the sense of this being the most isolated summit. The hills of Wicklow, Cavan, Tipperary, Louth & Down are visible far away. Nearer by, peat operations are evident, with the towers of the peat power station near Kinnegad visible. The Slieve Blooms loom to the south. This hill is an absolute must for the views on a good day!
As mentioned by Audi-Anne, the locals have a tradition of climbing this hill on St Patrick’s Day. St Patrick himself is said to have visited the hill, and St Patrick’s Well is on the north side of the hill just off the road. The farmer we spoke to on the way down told us that there used to be boxing matches and all sorts of revelry on the hill, but that some of the old ways are dying out. He confirmed that there is no access problem with climbing the hill on this side (east side), and said that it is a popular route up with locals.
Our baby really enjoyed her first walk in the harness, and it was an easy 20 minute stroll up to the summit. This is a highly recommended walk for both occasional strollers and seasoned walkers alike! Linkback: mountainviews.ie/summit/1017/comment/3875/