Slí Eanach Chraobh – The Annaghcramp Walk
The walk commences at one of the most important historical sources in our Parish – The Graveyards. The old graveyard was the site for the original Church building, of which the foundations and holy water fonts are still visible. This building was dated as being constructed in 1802.
The graveyards themselves are a very evident record of the areas’ recent human history. Beneath the many headstones lie stories of tragedy and achievement, fortitude and survival. These graves have received the remains of the famine, the hungry thirties and the conflicts of the Irish nation. A place for reflection and respect.
The Chapel Path
The Chapel Path, which enters the new graveyard at its North Western corner, is one of the many paths to originate in every townland in the Parish, and was once in widespread daily use. This usage is evidenced by the wear on the stones which make up the second stile. This is the only intact remains of the once extensive Chapel path network. To the owners of the adjacent land we should be thankful for its upkeep. The path runs alongside a stream known as “The Flushings” which rises near Ballynure, Drumard and delivers itself into Grillagh River in the townland of Drummuck. The water beneath your feet will surge as the next Atlantic foam. At the lower end of the path nestles Labby Well (Tobar Labby) – The Well of the Bed or Graves. The Path now joins The Hall Lane. It should be remembered that the path actually predates this road. Two hills – Rough Hill and Annaghcramp Hill are to the fore.
The Path swings to the right onto Dernanure Loanin and continues along this laneway for 500m and then takes a left across farmland to a woodland plantation. The path then follows the river before swinging left with a formidable short but steep incline to the top of Annaghcramp Hill. A Marian Cross was erected here in 1950 and prior to this, the hill was the scene of midsummer’s celebrations each June 21st. After the cross, the path falls away to the Hall Lane. Annaghcramp Moss and the route of the former chapel path are to the right of this lane. The Annaghcramp Way now follows the route of the Hall Lane back to The Flushings. Items to note along this route include the Rath enclosure on the right handside and the meadows/dams to the left. The total Walk is 2km.
This is the name given to an area of lowland raised bog which stretches across the townlands of Mayogall and Drummuck. The name is derived from the Irish – Eanach Chraobh – which means Marsh Island of the trees. Covering approximately 60 acres, the bog is a haven for wildlife. The area is part of a declining habitat which is unique to Ireland and Scotland. The Chapel paths continue across the moss. An eerie sight to previous generations was to witness the bringing of a coffin at night along this path, with tilley lamps providing the guiding light.
Sundew (Cailís Mhuire) – Drosera intermedia
Flora and Fauna
Many species of plants are almost exclusive to lowland raised bog including the carnivorous Sundew, Butterwort and Bladderwort. Bog cotton, Meadow sweet and various species of Sedges grow along the marshy edges of the bog. Green, fleshy clumps of Spagnum and Club Moss prevail in the wetter regions. (Beware of the most bright green areas as often these conceal deep bog holes which present much danger.) The Scrub mainly consists of Ling, Cross-Leafed and Bell heathers with Bilberry and Bog Myrtle occasionally intervening. Several types of Moths and Butterfly including the rare Heath Brown reside here. Dragonfly and Damselfly along with several species of bats, take to the air at dusk in research of the emerging small insects.
The Buzzard, a bird almost extinct in these parts, has made a solid return. Presently our largest bird of prey, it may be seen soaring above the trees whilst making its distinctive and plaintive pee-ow call. The Kestrel and the Sparrow- hawk are frequent visitors to the moss whilst occasionally the Long-eared Owl may be heard. In the many moss pools, Mallard and Teal (Ducks) will often seek refuge alongside the Waterhen. After a winter storm, a solitary swan briefly took up residence here. Frogs, Toads and the Common Newt dip in and out of these dark pools. The bog is also a refuge for the Brown Hare, Fox, Badger and Rabbit.
Moss and Man
Up until recent times, the moss was pivotal to families being able to live in this area. The moss provided the fuel to heat the damp stone and sod clachans, the means to cook the food, the light in the short evenings and the lifegiving boost of fire. Those without access to the turf bank were considered to be the most destitute and suffered short lives. Each family spent up to three months of the year in “the bog” – one quarter of their lives.
Every now and again the moss reveals some of its ancient past. Butter vats and the remains of old stills have been uncovered in this particular moss. The moss which provided the heat also provided the fridge, keeping perishables intact for years. Its high acidity also makes the moss an excellent preservative of articfacts. The sphagnum mosses, the foundation of the bog, have been used in the past to treat wounds and skin ailments.
Thus the moss is not only an extremely important habitat for wildlife, but it acts as a unique reminder of our recent history. Mankind’s trace, when turf cutters reigned supreme, is evident in the turfbanks, roddens and drains that “scar” the moss. Nature though is moving in. Birch, Oak, Ash, Rowan and Holly are encroaching. This unique habitat is our Coral Reef. Let’s help to keep the bogs within our Parish intact and one day again, they may provide us with resources.
Note: The Path is a Right of Way on farmland. No Dogs are allowed off-leash. No Dog Fouling!
Take care not to Litter or Damage Fences, Gates, Trees and Habitats. Above all, enjoy this trail.
The Annaghcramp Walk, and its upkeep, has been undertaken by the members of the Termoneeny Community Association in co-operation with local landowners.