Ballyhoura Way

County Cork
3 reviews
Grade Moderate
Length 89 km
Time 4 days
Format Linear
Ascent 1560 m
Dogs Allowed No
Waymarking Yellow arrow on black background
Start Point
St.Johns Bridge
Finish Point
Limerick Junction
Nearest Town to Start Kanturk
Grid Ref. R 393 098 / R 862 385
Lat. and Long. 52.2367, -8.88862 / 52.49782, -8.20321

In December 1602, in the wake of the defeat of Gaelic forces at the Battle of Kinsale, Donal Cam O Suilleabhain, the chief of the O’Sullivan clan, was isolated and surrounded by his enemies in his territories in West Cork. He resolved to seek asylum with his ally, O’Rourke of Breifne, and so he gathered his entire clan and set out on a forced march through hostile territory in an attempt to reach O’Rourke’s lands in what is today County Leitrim, 500 kilometres to the north. A thousand in all set out, and after many skirmishes with enemies and many severe hardships in the winter weather, only fifteen made it to Leitrim. The terrible journey has become one of Ireland’s great epics, and the Ballyhoura Way was laid out along part of the route O’Sullivan took with his clan all those years ago, from St John’s Bridge to Limerick Junction. The route crosses four upland stretches, one long one over the Ballyhoura Mountains (highest point Seefin, at 510 metres), two short ones over Benyvoughella Hill and Slievereagh, and then a long traverse on the southern flanks of the Slievenamuck ridge, overlooking the beautiful Glen of Aherlow. The aggregate ascent over the route is just over 1700m, and apart from a few short steep sections there are no significant climbs. Along the way walkers might want to linger at the great Norman castle at Liscarroll, in the pretty villages of Kilfinane, Ballyorgan, Ballylanders and Galbally, or the storied town of Tipperary. The terrain consists mainly of tarmac roads, forestry tracks, and open moorland and field paths. Some of the road sections are busy and should be used with care: some of the upland sections can be very wet. There are not many options for overnight accommodation along the route.
Further detailed can be found at Shannon Trails - Ballyhoura Way

Trail Management

Ballyhoura Heritage and Environment CLG,
Main St.,
Co. Limerick.
Tel: 063-91300


Car parking
At Start - John’s Bridge
At End - in station car park at Limerick Junction

46 kms or 51% of this trail follows public roads. While these are mostly quiet local roads there are some busy sections and walkers should always take care when on the road.
As with all waymarked trails, the occassional waymarker can be knocked over or dislodged so always carry a map so that you can confirm that you are following the correct route. You may also come across some sections of soft ground along the Way - so a good pair of waterproof boots is the recommended footware.
***Dogs are allowed but must be kept under effective control***

Map Guides

Map Guides

Map Guide to the Ballyhoura Way – Ballyhoura Failte

OSI Maps

OSI Maps

Discovery Series Sheets 66, 73 and 74* (*start + ca 750m on Sheet 72)
Public Transportation

Public Transportation

At Start: None though Ballyhoura Country Holidays will collect from Charleville bus or rail and transfer At End: Bus to Limerick, Galway, Waterford Check with Bus Eireann.
Rail Check with Iarnrod Eireann.

3 trail reviews
Write your own review of this trail

Barry from Limerick

I'm not a fan of tarmac bashing but yesterday morning I got the Bus Eireann bus from Limerick to Kilfinane and hiked from there to Ballyhea where I got the Cork-Limerick Bus Eireann bus back. It was about 30km and took me 7 hours with about 500m or 600m of ascent, There hadn't been rain in a week and there had been 6 days of really good weather so the bog was in good nick, in short this hike was fantastic from end to end and I particularly enjoyed the section from Castle Philip to Carron Mountain. I wore approach shoes which had some waterproofing which worked fine. There is a Supermacs next to the Ballyhea bus stop to mop up a hunger too. . .

steve from Galway

Another canine friendly trail I took the dogs on this week in glorious sunshine which showed the views over the lush countryside to their best. The Way was also in good shape as the 21st Ballyhoura walking festival was about to take place and sections had been strimmed and trimmed.

A lot of this route is over 250mt with clear vistas over the Golden Vale, Glen of Aherlow and the Galtee Mountains. The highest point is 477mt at Castle Phillip which is reached over moorland. There are a certain amount of forest tracks but these are made more interesting by the mountain bike trails, exercise stations and fauna and flora info boards and there are also sections through Ash and Beech woods.

There is a lovely stretch alongside the Aherlow River through farmland though the grass can be long and wet and gaiters could be handy.

The first 20km is along country roads which I avoided with the dogs to start at the second trail head below Ballyhea.

There was pretty good signage although I missed the turn to lead up Carron Mountain even though I was looking out for it so not sure if something is missing there. I had printed off the trail maps from this website so was able to get back on track quick enough.

The villages are pleasant and frequent enough to supply refreshments and possible accommodation and there are B and B's along the route. The whole area is extremely well marketed under the Ballyhoura Country brand and an info on route centre in Kilfinane can supply details.

Plenty of variety on this Way with boreens, forest roads, farm tracks, footpaths, farmland and back roads with changes in perspective and views throughout the route.

Without the initial 20km of road walking it's easily done over three days and a train from Limerick Junction can get you back to Charleville, a short cab ride from Ballyhea.

A full description can be found on my blog

Mike from Limerick

This is generally low level walking and a great way to explore the area. Recommend carrying Walking Shoes/Runners in addition to Boots as some of the sections are on forest roads, quiet country roads and bohereens.

Ensure you have the detailed some of the signs can be confusing.

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