Monday 18th February 2019
Day 20. Lorrha Portumna Meelick
Terrain some road farmland mostly riverbank.
Stamp No Stamp available in Portumna , premises closed
After leaving Lorrha we walked 1km on a side road before crossing into farmland and then onto an Esker Riada, these are raised beds which are generly used for road travel. They were formed at the last Ice Age from silt and gravel, and a number are still in use as roads especially between Dublin and Galway. This one is beautiful and unspoilt with Flora and Fauna, and some fallen woodland trees easily negotiated. We crossed a metal Bridge which took us alongside a sheepwired fence with barbed wire on top, this is fine by us as there is ample space for us to walk outside of the fence. There were lots of Sheep in the field and dozens of baby spring Lambs enjoying the morning sun and each others company,..... except for one.... He had gotten himself on the wrong side of the fence.....our side... neither he nor his mother were happy ! She ran along on one side and he on the other, trying in vain to push his way through the sheep wire to reach the safety of his Maaaaa. Coming from farming backgrounds ourselves we were in a position to catch him, and safely return him to the right side of the fence, his little heart was pounding and ours were smiling.
From here we walked through a young Broad Leafed Forest, and out onto a tarred track which leads to Redwood Castle, which we were informed opens only in Summertime. This is possibly the Woods that O'Sullivan's army used to make boats from their horse hides to ferry them over this large body of water.
The Ormonde Way marking ends here, and there is no connecting waymarking. Our maps too end here, but we had hoped that there would be some marking to lead us to Portumna, not so !
We took this tarred track up to the main road and walked briskly towards the Bridge to take us across The Shannon River. The Ferry Inn was closed, too early in the day we thought, but later found out that they were closed for holiday's, so no Stamp here. The excitement we felt masked the heavy rain falling, as we walked over the Bridge with the River below us. For days we have been thinking and talking of the hardship endured by O'Sullivan's army and followers and their crossing of The Shannon. This is our 20th Day walking since leaving Dursey Island and we have a Bridge to cross..... This is a Milestone for us as we are now in Connaught, our home Provence. After some hot food and a little drying time we went in search of the second Stamp Location the Post Office, but here again they don't have it, and never have had it. Portumna is in our opinion one of the major stages of the Beara Breifne Way and it is a let down that there is no location available to Stamp the Passport. From here we walked The Shannon Banks in two sections, as we were unsure of leaving either vehicle for long periods unattended in remote locations.
Firstly we walked from Tiernascragh back into Portumna Harbour, passing Whitesford Pump Station where an information plaque informed us that O'Sullivan's crossing took place here. It seemed like a narrow section with some small islands between the two Banks. One Boat sank and all on board were drowned, a second bigger boat ferried to and fro throughout the night carrying the remainder over, while at the same time they were fighting off the Army of the local Chieftan McEgan.
The second section took us from Meelick to Tiernascragh. In Meelick we were met by George who welcomed us with great delight, George farms sheep here and runs a small pub a couple of nights a week. He had lots of stories to tell and we were assured of safety for our Land Rover here. The high grassy Bank made for ease of walking although we did get wet feet in the long grass. The walk was beautiful in the sunshine and showers, with the wind in our faces. Two white forest Goats observed us before disappearing into the thicket, the second time for white Goats to make an appearence to us this trip. A flock of about 20 Swans arose from a field and flew overhead, 2Shags flew past close to the River , and there were lots of Malards both in the water and overhead as they went about their daily business. Mr. Heron was doing a spot of fishing in the narrow Canal that ran alongside the high ridge and shor' before we knew it we were at Tiernascragh. A surprise from cousins awaited us on arrival back at Meelick they had been out on a hunt all day following our video clues and trying to locate us...... a Magic moment.....
After a cuppa and a catch up, we moved the cars on in preparation for the next day's walk.