THE DEVIL, THE ICE AGE, NATURE & HISTORY

– from one point on Faill a’ Crann

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“The devil from the top of Mangerton mountain was firing big lumps of land at O’Donoghue over in Ross Castle”, Killarney boatmen will tell you. “On top of Mangerton there is now a big hole with a lake and the piece of land is Devil’s island” – which is shown in the first lake in the photograph.

We are standing at Faill a’ Crann (the cliff of the trees) at the cul de sac, the highest point on the forest roads on the western side of Mangerton. On the 1:25,000 ordnance survey map of Killarney National Park it is just below Barnancurrane. It is just over an hour’s walk from Gallan Eile.

The basin for the two lakes was gouged out by a two million year movement of a 500 metre deep mass of ice.

The light green trees in the foreground are the needle shedding larch. Why have so many of these died in recent years? The dark green conifers further down are primarily Douglas fir introduced from California to this part of the world some 150 years ago.

Between larch and fir is a gorge with a micro climate of its own. Torc Waterfall – which is at its most awesome during or immediately after very heavy rain – is at the head of gorge and across the Owengarriff River the Douglas fir include some of the tallest trees in Ireland. Immediately behind the car park there are specimen European larch and along the park road a little way up, in to the left/east, is a very fine Scot’s Pine.

The Muckross Peninsula – which runs east/west between the two lakes – has the largest yew wood in Europe. Near the peninsula’s northern shore – to the right/east out of photograph – is Friar’s Island near which it is said the friars from nearby Muckross Abbey dumped their valuables in the lake when they were fleeing from Cromwellian forces. A number of friars were martyred at the time.

At the south western end of Ross Island – the large peninsula sticking out into the lake – there are the remains of 4,500 year old copper mines, said to be the oldest in north western Europe.

Off the end of Ross island you can see a part of Innisfallen island where the oldest contemporary account of the history of Munster was written. Students at the university here included Brian Boru our most famous high king – who drove the Danes out of Ireland at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.

The white building, above the eastern end of the lake near the top of the photograph, is the Liebherr factory employing a thousand people in one of the largest container crane factories in the world. The high ground behind is the holy hill of Agahdoe and along the skyline is the beginning of the mountains that are the spine along the entire length of the Dingle Peninsula.

All of that from one point. An ideal two and a half hour walk from our holiday home at Gallan Eile.

– Frank Lewis

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