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Frederic William Burton - The Meeting on the Turret Stairs, 1864
The Meeting on the Turret Stairs, 1864
Frederic William Burton
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Round off a Slieve Bloom Castle Tour with a Distillery Visit
The perfect ending to a perfect tour

lavender in the slieve bloom mountains

Photo courtesy Discover Ireland

by Suzanne Barrett

An array of interesting sights come alive for walkers who choose to explore Ireland's Slieve Bloom region.

Irish car hire customers in Dublin will find the mountainous area is located near to the city and provides a great opportunity to take in the vast countryside. Nestled between Offaly County and Laois County the region is a hidden gem that boasts breathtaking landscape views, while also giving visitors the chance to see the remains of ancient castles and other attractions, including a distillery museum. There are many routes that wind through the gentle rise of the Slieve Bloom mountains, so walkers can pick the terrain they prefer. The area is made up of forests, a type of blanket bog which is unique to Ireland and is interspersed with hidden valleys, all of interest to the nature lover. Much of the higher reaches of the mountains have been designated as an Environmentally Protected area for special preservation, and as a consequence, there are plenty of sign-posted walks, explanatory boards regarding wildlife and flora and fauna, and designated picnic areas.

Visitors who like moderate strolls through grassy paths may like to kick off their trips at the Kinnitty Forest trailhead. A pleasant walk through stunning woodland greets those who follow the arrows towards Kinnitty Castle, while walkers wishing to continue on the longer Slieve Bloom route can also began their journeys in this location. When following this route, the castle emerges from the landscape and is a popular attraction for visitors.

The impressive building stands on the site of a monastery and has served as a hotel. Continuing along the path, day trippers can once again enjoy the stunning woodlands before reaching another former castle. The well-preserved ruins of Glinsk Castle rise three stories into the air. The original home was built in the 1600s for Ulick Burke, in order to keep him safe from invaders. Visitors can get an accurate picture of architecture from this time, which includes sculptured windows and gun loops. Walkers keen to pursue the route may like to explore the area further by continuing deeper into the Slieve Bloom mountains, while accommodation is dotted around the region for those who wish to tackle it on another day.

The entire route measures approximately 77 kilometers in length, with an array of circular walks providing the opportunity to see many different parts of the landscape. For example, Glenbarrow is another popular starting point for hikers who are keen to follow shorter routes. Here, visitors experience more of the undulating countryside, which is dotted with many wild flowers species.

To round off trips, walkers may like to pay a visit to Locke's Distillery, in nearby Kilbeggan. Whiskey was first brewed on the site in 1757 and after it was left empty for some time in the last century, local businessmen and residents reopened the premises as a museum. Visitors can now see how the drink was produced in the past using original equipment.

Until next time.

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