Ballyhoura Way

County Cork
6 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 7km
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., Kilfinane, Co. Limerick. Tel: 063-91300 E-mail:


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.

6 trail reviews
Write your own review of this trail

The Happy Irish Hiker (Susan) from Tipperary

We are on the final length of this trail now, having walked from Johnsbridge in Cork to the Christ the King Statue (the Turn Table) in the Glen of Aherlow. As we've been walking in winter hours, we divided the trail into five days, and we have one final day (a very short walk) in order to finish up in Tipperary. It has been a really enjoyable walk with lots of interesting discoveries along the way, such as Oliver Reed's burial place in Churchtown. It wasn't just the beautiful walks we enjoyed, but the people. We met the friendliest people. The route was very well marked, and the road sections were mostly confined to the first couple of days of the walk. There were no demanding climbs or scrambles (although if you're adverse to a lot of mud, then you probably won't want to walk the mountain bits in winter when it's been raining). We detoured a couple of times to take in a few high points along the way. The leg from the Ballinboola Trailhead to Ballyorgan via Carran Hill, where we detoured to Castle Philip, Seefin was by far the most beautiful stretch, with stunning views of the mountains and countryside for miles. Well worth the detour. On the day that we walked from Ballyorgan to Ballylanders, we detoured up to The Pinnacle on Slievereagh where we sat in t-shirt sleeves and had our lunch on an unnaturally warm November day. I'd highly recommend visiting it if the weather is good. And on our second last day, the forestry walk along the base of Slievenamuck was a lovely, relaxing way to spend a few hours. Well done on maintaining the trail and the signposts. Not having to worry where the signs were meant we could enjoy the beautiful sights and scenery all the more.

Ballyhoura Heritage and Environment from Limerick

Hi John
Thank you for your review on the Ballyhoura Way. We will address the issue of the overgrown boreen after the main road near Ballyhea.
Hopefully it won't be too long before you get to do the Galbally to Tipperary section.

John from Westmeath

Ballyhoura Walk : July 2021
We are a group of 10 walkers ranging in ages from 28 to 68 and with varying degrees of fitness. Our aim was to walk from Liscarroll to Tipperary town on the Ballyhoura walking trail in three and half days. The walk is mostly well marked, challenging in parts but well worth the trip. We stayed in the Park Hotel in Charleville which I would highly recommend for their accommodation, food and friendliness.
Thursday afternoon: Liscarroll to Shinagh
This was a walk along quiet rural roads past the Donkey Sanctuary and through the quiet village of Churchtown. There is a grocery shop here, in a somewhat hidden location, where you can get coffee, ice-cream etc. As you leave Churchtown, you walk on a busy road for about 3km before reaching quiet roads again. The walk was 12km long and took 3hours approx for all to complete.
Friday; Shinagh to Ballyorgan
We left Shinagh, crossed the railway line and joined the main Cork road. We walked for about 500 metres towards Charleville along the side of the main road before taking a right turn onto a rural road. We walked uphill along the road until we reached a sign pointing to the right. This boreen was overgrown and impassable, so we continued along the road, taking the next right, all the time climbing. We re-joined the signposted way some time later at a left turn when we went off road and walked along forest roads. Take care not to miss a right turn with a barrier across it. We followed the signs, all the time climbing until we reached a sign pointing to the right up a steep stone path to Carrow Mountain. The views from up there were worth the effort. The path down was tough underfoot along scree initially and across heather covered ground where the path is not always obvious. We re-joined the forest roads near Philip’s castle and walked downhill to the Bike Trail Shop. A number of the walkers stopped here, the rest continued on to Glenosheen and from there to Ballyorgan. The walk was about 32km long and took about 8 hours. It was a most enjoyable hike but I wouldn’t recommend doing this walk on a wet day. Remember to bring food and water.
Saturday : Ballyorgan to Galbally
We left Ballyorgan and walked along the road for 2km before turning right and walking up hill along the edge of the forest all the time following the signs. We exited onto a rural road through farmland and into another forest where we got great views of the surrounding landscape as we walked. There was a steep descent onto a busy road before arriving in Kilfinane where we got lunch. Leaving Kilfinane, we followed the road uphill for 1.5km before turning left onto a horse path, then a cut away forest and then along the edge of a forest. We descended into Ballylanders along rural roads and from Ballylanders to Galbally along a quiet road. The walk was 28km long approx. and took us 7 hours.
Sunday: Galbally to Tipperary
The rain poured down and unfortunately we had to abandon the walk but will return to complete it at a future date.
Summary: This is a great hike across varying terrain and with some outstanding views. A certain level of fitness is required but slow and steady will get you there.


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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