Saturday, 30 April 2011

In The Footsteps of Daniel O'Connell

I had the opportunity to walk some of the Kerry Way this week following the route of the "Old Road" around Drung Hill (between Glenbeigh and Caherciveen). Thomas's run along this route as part of his preparation for the Dingle ultra last year put it on my "to-do" list. Spectacular views on a beautiful sunny day. During my walk I met Gail and Tommy, keen hill walkers from Milltown, who told me some of the history of the four routes around Drung Hill connecting Caherciveen and Kilorglin, - the oldest being the upper "Monks Road", which we were on, between 1,200 and 1,300 feet above sea level,

- the lower "Old Road" - now part of the Kerry Way, along which barrister Daniel O'Connell (The Martin Luther King of Irish Catholics in the 1820's) travelled from his home in Derrynane to the various courts sessions around Munster. There is a section of this which is quite scary (for me) to walk along as the ground falls very steeply from the 8 foot wide path 700 feet to the sea below. You can see the other two routes far below - the Old Railway line/tunnels, built in the 1880's, with the last train running in 1960 and the new road hugging the coastline about 100 feet above sea level. You'd certainly want a head for heights along this section. Tommy told me of some story about the wheels of Daniel O'Connell's coach going over the edge on one occasion.

Old Coach Road around Drung Hill - Photo Courtesy of Thomas

I was back there yesterday with Ani, Saran and 2 of their friends, heading up the "Old Road" and crossing onto the "Monks Road" to complete a 4 mile loop. Once we reached the highest point we rested, with the kids taking off their shoes and socks. We all ended up walking the next mile through a mixture of upland bog, heather and rock strewn grassy slopes in our bare feet, the kids delighting in the various textures underfoot, especially the soothing waterlogged moss covered bog - ignoring the general guidance given to hill walkers to use good quality waterproof walking boots.

Elevation profile (first 0.25 miles missing)

On the running front I ended my second recovery week with a 17.2 mile long run on grass and a total of 55 miles in the bag. 15 of the grass miles were barefoot starting off with clubmate Denis, sharing 4.5 miles at an easy 8:40 pace. Once Denis left I upped the pace towards 8 minute miles with the idea of averaging that pace for the entire run. From mile 5 to 15 my pace averaged 7:27 (1:14:32) - however the 15 miles took their toll on my feet with a few blisters developing over the last mile. I put on my running shoes for the 2.2 mile warmdown, joining clubmates Anne Marie Holland and Pat Murphy, both training for sub-3 hour marathons (Cork and Vancouver respectively) & Anne Marie Healy. It wasn't until I got home that I noticed the extent of the blisters on my feet. However they have largely disappeared at this stage, which is fortuitous as I am due to pace the 3;30 group at the Limerick marathon tomorrow.

Recovery Week #2 (Run 55.3 miles, Bike 34.8 miles, Swim 3km)

April (Run 150 miles, Bike 56 miles, Swim 7.5 km)


  1. great photos. Derf want to visit and run some parts of the kerry way, maybe in 2012 or even later this year. well done for pacing tomorrow. hoping you and your 3:30 gang have a great day

  2. The mountains look fantastic, do you have many hill races in these parts?
    Hope the pacing goes well and your legs and feet feel good.

  3. This is one of the most scenic spots I have ever been to. Especially on a nice day like today!

  4. Mountain running is nearly a separate sport in Ireland Rick, attracting it's own breed of runner. There are quite a few races to chose from, listed in the Irish Mountain Running Association website (

    Thomas you're so lucky to live so close to such a wide variety for scenic trails.

  5. Mountain running is very popular in this town, due to the efforts of John Harding (who organises many events). Hope you weren't too buggered to run the even-paced 3:29:59 in the marathon ;)