The Glen of Aherlow

It is across this U-shaped valley that one can enjoy some of the most spectacular and glorious scenery that this country has to offer. The River Aherlow flows through the valley, which is bordered on one side by the Galtees and on the other by Slievenamuck (mountain of pigs).

Christ the King Statue

The focal point of the passage through the Glen is the Christ the King monument, erected in 1950, which commands the finest view to be had of the area. Placed on the side of the Slievenamuck Hill, and facing the Galtees, the statue's raised hand is said to bless all those who pass by it and live beneath it. The statue was irreparably damaged in 1975, but a new, identical sculpture was commissioned to replace it soon after.

Pre-Historic and Early Christian Remains

There are a number of prehistoric and early Christian sites of interest to be found in the Glen, and as is the case with so many similar attractions throughout the country, tradition and folklore abound around them. At the east end of the glen is St. Berrihert's Well and Kyle, the "kyle" being an oval enclosure designed to protect the site's unique collection of stones. These include many pieces of carving and the base of a cross. The nearby well is 20m across and 1.5m deep, and the water that bubbles from it, allegedly, cannot be boiled. St. Berrihert's Day is celebrated locally on the 18th February. In Toureen, between Bansha and Cahir, is St. Pecaun's well, close to which are the remains of a stone circle. The well of St. Sedna, whose waters are said to cure eye ailments, is located in the grounds of Clonbeg Church. For the true healing powers of the well to be fully enjoyed one must tie a piece of the afflicted's clothing to a nearby tree. Religious and social events commemorating these local saints often go together hand in hand.

The Insurgents' Shelter

Because of the Glen's isolation and wilderness it has always served as the "refuge and security of rebels". This was particularly true at the beginning of the 1600s, when opposition to Elizabeth I's government was strong. It was in a cave near the Glen, in Slieve Grot, that James, the "Sugaun Earl" of Desmond, took refuge from government forces after his failed insurrection. He was tracked down by one-time ally, Edmund Fitzgibbon, The White Knight, who handed him over to the authorities. James subsequently died in the Tower of London 6 years later.

O'Sullivan Beare's March

In 1602, during his famous and arduous march north, O'Sullivan Beare camped near and marched through the Glen. Having set out from Glengarriff with 1,000 men, his force had dwindled to only 35 by the time he reached Leitrim, his final destination. The march lasted 11 days, and at every roads turn the travelling party was assaulted by both the severity of the winter weather and attacks from loyalist forces.

Sources - Marnane, "Land and Settlement", www.aherlow.com


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