– in a land formed by ice from Derricunnihy to Kate Kearney’s

Derrycunnihy cascade DSC00844

Even with moderate water the Derricunnihy Cascade is a special sight.  Walking up close its width and its many channels are even more impressive.  If you come back during or immediately after extended heavy rain its ferocity would take your breath away.

Not surprisingly Queen Victoria was impressed when she visited here 155 years ago … almost to the day.  And unlike her visit, a week ago last Monday we had no problem with midges.

Then on through hundreds of acres of oak woods, with their understory of holly and thick ground cover carpets of mosses.


The abrupt end of the woods makes more impressive the first high view looking down over the Upper Lake, with the full Reeks Ridge in the background. Over two million years the movement of glaciers gouged out the basin that is now filled by the lake.


Then out on open, rough, wet land.


From a high outcrop looking down on Duck, Ronayne’s and Eagle Islands with the huge, bald, purpley-blue dome of Purple mountain imminently in the background.

In the 18th century Philip Ronayne, with his black servant, came to live here, an ideal place of quiet and seclusion to write his two algebra books and indulge his passion to fish.

Coming across one other fishing on the lake he judged his peace and seclusion violated. Coming home he instructed his black servant “Pack. We are leaving. This place is getting too bloody crowded.”


Then skirting the southern shore of the Upper lake. Views recorded by Jonathan Fisher 246 years ago.

There were two swans on the lake near the mouth of the Gearhameen River that flows down through the Black Valley.

Visitors relaxed in the sunshine at Lord Brandon’s Cottage on their way to or from the unique boat trip through the three lakes.


Walking in to the Black Valley.  By a rock outcrop with ‘MH 1853’ carved on it. Did Mary Herbert paint from here 153 years ago?

Now the Reeks are immediately overhead. The great bulk with four or more of our highest mountains.

Mary Tagney said the pine marten killing her few remaining hens in recent weeks was the last straw. No more fowl.

The whole length of the Black Valley from the Upper Lake to Lough Reagh at the Valley's western end
The whole length of the Black Valley from the Upper Lake to Lough Reagh at the Valley’s western end

Then along the whole six miles of twists and turns of the Gap of Dunloe. My ruler tells me it is only three and a half miles/five and a half kilometers, but with all of the twists and turns it must be close to double that.


This deep rift valley was cut through the mountains by prolonged movement of ice and snow. Sheer mountain walls are close on both sides, passing five glacial lakes, and tiny arctic and apline flora.

Looking South over Black Lake
Looking South over Black Lake

The two swans on the lake near the mouth of the Gearhameen river, Gene Tagney told us, might be an ominous weather indicator.

As we watched swallows on their flowing criss-crossing of the sky overhead Gene said the first swallows had not arrived in the Black Valley this year until July 7.  2016 had been a record year for cuckoos.

“Last year the first swallows arrived on April 23 and the first cuckoo came the following day.”

Jon Twynham at the top of the Gap
Jon Twynham at the top of the Gap

Up to the top of the Gap it had been a warm, calm summer’s day. The strong fresh breeze at the top was unexpected and continued for much of the rest of the journey.

When we got to Kate Kearneys we had been walking for nearly six hours. But then there had been a break at Lord Brandon’s and along the way we took photographs and stopped and chatted.

Derricunnihy to Kate Kearney’s is a walk with everything. But you need somebody to drop you off and pick you up.

Frank Lewis

PS   Derricunnihy is a 15 minute drive from Gallan Eile .. and Kate Kearney’s is about 30 minutes

For more information or to book a stay at Gallan Eile …

 Book Here


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