Just west of the village of Lauragh in County Kerry (on the R571 road) there is an unassuming car park on the edge of a forest. Oh! What a forest! It’s quiet and cool, the ground is soft , boggy and springy underfoot. It’s so peaceful that even the chatterboxes among us started to talk in whispers.
I initially thought the undergrowth was thick with moss but upon closer inspection I realized the undulating wave of green was a sweeping mass of shamrocks! If you ever wondered where the magical shamrock stories originated, it must have been in a place like this.
Out of the corner of my eye I swear I saw an antlered Green Man peering out at us from behind the trees. (But then again, I have a finely tuned imagination.)
The climb to the moorlands above takes some time. It’s not arduous, but can be tiring so be prepared for a bit of a trek. At the top of the hill the land becomes open moorland and you will find yourself on an ancient trackway known as the “Old Green Road”. It’s now part of the Beara Way Waymarked Trail. Follow the pathway and enjoy your hike. There will be a few stiles to climb over along the uphill journey, so take your time.
Keep following the path and you will be rewarded by the remains of a series of ancient stone circles and burials. Although only a few stones are still standing they are still impressive. The sheer weight of the stones would have taken an incredible amount of manpower to right them. What do they mean? Who is buried there? What kind of rituals took place in this sweeping landscape?
There is a sense of isolation here on the rugged part of the trackway. There is also a heart-expanding sense of beauty. The stones are centered with rugged hills as their backdrop, but they face an overwhelming vista stretching for miles over the sea and distant hills. If you ever venture this way try to make time for this hike. Wear comfortable clothes and boots, bring water, a picnic lunch and a sense of wonder.