WHERE THE EARL OF DESMOND WAS BEHEADED … & Captain Robert Monteith was hidden away

The weather forecast said it would be overcast but there would be no rain.  But as I was leaving the Bernard Collins Carpark the dark clouds were almost dripping.  For the two and a half hours I was likely to be walking the Lenihan Trail it was best to wear rain gear.
The information panel just inside the entrance to Gleann na gCaointe Wood describes the area as the Sherwood Forest of Ireland.
On forest road along the open hill on the southern side of a steep, narrow valley with the greenest field along the valley floor … dense conifer wood covers the steep northern wall of the glen.
At its eastern end the road becomes a trail.  Crossing over a stream a further information panel tells that the last Earl of Desmond was beheaded here.  The place is named the vale of the wailing.
Now rising under a thick canopy of conifer wood.  By a holy well with waters, we are told, that have unique powers to satisfy thirst.
High up looking down over a great panorama of hill and wood.  A further panel tells how Captain Robert Monteith, who landed on Banna Strand with Roger Casement, evaded capture here.
Along the way … occasional primroses …
and a rich abundance of newly bloomed Hazel catkins
… by furze in full bloom.
An information panel tells that Stephen Fuller, who was the only survivor from the bloody massacre at Ballyseedy in 1923, was spirited away here.
Further illustrated panels tell of the athletic prowess of Dan Ahern and Tom McCarthy.
Now rising high on open hill with great panoramas – in the right visibility – of Tralee Bay … Killarney lakes and mountains from the Paps to Knockadobar.

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon … and the rain that appeared imminent at the beginning never came.

– Frank Lewis

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