Day 1: Arrival Day
Please inform us about your arrival times so that we can make arrangements to pick you up either from the airport or organise a taxi from local bus stop. (If you are arriving late we will bring you directly to your Guesthouse in Rathdrum and see you the following morning.)
We will introduce you to your donkey companion. Then your new donkey friend will bring you on a walk around our farm.This will be followed by a detailed discussion of your trip and we will supply you with maps and brochures, etc. Your first overnight will be in the village of Rathdrum and we will bring you there.
Rathdrum is situated high on the western side of the Avonmore Valley. The town has been the location of many films and is the birthplace of Charles Stewart Parnell, one of the greatest political leaders of modern Irish history. 7 local pubs make the temptation for an after dinner pub crawl irresistible!
Day 2: Cronybyrne to “The Meetings”
After a full Irish breakfast in Jacob’s Well it’s back to Clissmann’s Farm at Cronybyrne to meet your donkey again. We will give you more instructions on how to check your donkey’s well-being and look after him on the road. You will then give him a thorough brushing, pack your saddle bags and settle them comfortably on the donkey rug and off you go. We will provide you with lunch today.
Walk to Garryduff Crossroads and go straight through the crossroad. Then on your left you will pass a blue farmhouse and then a new bungalow with a garden full of flowers. This farm belongs to Sheila and Brendan Byrne. Further along this road you will see a cream coloured house on your right. Just there, there is a turn to the right. Make sure to take this turn and do not go down the steep hill. Along this road you will have the forest on your right and lovely views of the sea on your left.
Continue along this road until you meet a junction with a triangle of grass in the middle of the road. Turn left here onto a small road with grass growing down the middle. Continue along this road until you walk under a railway bridge. Shortly after the bridge you will see a Yield sign at a T junction. Turn left onto this bigger road following the signs for the R752 in the direction of Wicklow/ Glenealy.
After approx 250m you will see a right hand turn with the signs WSPCA animal sanctuary and L5118. Turn right onto this road. Follow this road uphill and pass the animal sanctuary. Shortly after the gates of the animal sanctuary you will see another triangle of grass in the road – continue straight on here, following the sign for Parnell Drive. Approx 100m meters later you will come to a T junction with a house directly in front of you. Turn right here in the direction of Rathdrum.
Walking in the direction of Rathdrum, talk the 2nd left hand turn. Continue on this road for approx 1 hour. You will then find yourself on a steep winding hill passing the entrance to Castle Howard on your left. At the bottom of the hill you cross a stone bridge. Shortly after this you will arrive at a junction where you turn left. This will bring you downhill to The Meetings and Ashton House on your left hand side where Catriona will be waiting for you.
“The Meetings” and The Vale of Avoca rich in history and heritage is a very unique area. Peace and tranquillity permeate its deep river valleys and densely wooded hills. The poet Thomas Moore (1779-1851) immortalised the valley in his poem “Sweet Vale of Avoca”.
Day 3: The Meetings, The Mottee Stone, Avoca and the Copper Mines
The Meetings of the Waters
Where the Avonmore and Avonbeg meet amidst glittering waters and quiet woodlands, an area made famous worldwide by Thomas Moore’s melody “Sweet Vale of Avoca”
The house, in private ownership, is a curious mixture of castellation and Gothic. It was designed by Richard Morrison, a pupil of James Gandon. James Gandon designed some of the most stunning Georgian buildings in Dublin, including the Four Courts and the Custom House on the river Liffey.
The Mottee Stone
A legacy of the ice age, this huge granite rock offers the most amazing views of the county. Iron rungs make it possible to climb to the top of the stone and on a clear day it’s sometimes possible to see the distant outline of Wales.
The village of Avoca is known worldwide, between the mines, the writings of Thomas Moore, Avoca Handweavers and most recently the BBC film “Ballykissangel”. Avoca Handweavers built around 1723 is one of the oldest hand weaving mills in the country.
The Copper Mines
Bell Rock marks the entrance to the mines. Copper and sulphur have been mined in Avoca since the Bronze Age. However, the main commercial activities began over 250 year ago, but the 1840’s were the boom years with over 1000 men employed in the industry. The chimney stacks of the great pumping stations can still be seen scattered throughout the valley. Gold was discovered in 1796… now there’s a great conversation to follow up in the pub.
There are several different trips that you can do starting out from Catriona’s house and she will be happy to give you advice about them.
Day 4: Ashton House, “The Meetings” to the Valley of Glenmalure
This is one of the longest days so it’s advisable to head off reasonable early in the morning so that you and your donkey friend can have a good long break at lunchtime, or even before. Leaving Ashton House carefully cross the road, walk a little in the direction of Rathdrum and then take the first turn left to Ballinaclash. Continue on this road and stay left going over the stone bride. On the other side of the bridge turn right in front of Phelan’s pub. A cooling drink at Phelan’s in Ballinaclash is recommended. Your donkey can be left in the field opposite the pub.
Continue past Phelan’s pub until you reach a Y in the road. Keep left here. Pass a football field and the Birches housing estate on your left. Continue straight on this road until you come to a cross roads, where you turn right. Greenan Farm Museum and Maze will be on your right hand side. There is a coffee shop here so you could have a nice lunch and there is also grazing for your donkey. (Only open at weekends in May & September)
Leaving the Maze, turn right and continue straight on downhill to Greenan bridge, cross the bridge, turn left and head along the valley towards Glenmalure. The Glenmalure Lodge Hotel is situated in the longest glacial valley in the British Isles. It is a favourite haunt for hill walkers and mountain climbers. Surrounded by majestic hills it nestles cosily half-way down the valley.
Day 5: Glenmalure to Glendalough
A spectacular walk along the Military Road across the mountain will bring you from one valley to another. Take a light lunch from the hotel and something to drink as there are no pubs or shops along the way. The scenery is breathtaking.
Coming out of the hotel you turn Right and at the crossroads you turn Right. There’s quite a steep climb but it’s really worthwhile. Views and vistas across the Wicklow Mountains are a sheer delight. The road eventually winds its way gently down into Laragh. At the junction at the end of the road you turn L into Laragh.
Lynam’s Hotel is on your right in the centre of the village. Go into the hotel reception for directions to the location of the field for your donkey. At this stage you can also leave the panniers in the hotel. Its approx. ½ an hour walk to the donkey field. You can make arrangements for someone from the hotel to pick you up by car from the field and bring you back to the hotel.
Day 6: Glendalough
While your hard working donkey has a day off you can visit the Monastic city of Glendalough by horse and carriage. Heading towards Glendalough, a few minutes from the hotel is “The Arches” B/B on the right hand side directly opposite the car park of the Wicklow Heather Restaurant.
Mr. Jimmy Cullen, owner of the horse and carriage will be waiting for you here at approx. 11.00 o’clock. He will drive you down to the lakes and regale you with the history and legends of the area. He will then drive back you back to the Visitor Centre. At the Visitor Centre there is an excellent Exhibition on the Monastic City. (Please ask for the translation if you need one). Then you can view a very interesting Film on Early Christian Ireland, it’s monasteries, it’s gold and silver chalices and it’s famous books – The Book of Kells, Armagh and Drimna and of course the story of St. Kevin who founded Glendalough. Then you can go and explore the Monastic City itself – the beautifully preserved Round Tower, the Cathedral, St. Kevin’s Kitchen. These buildings are mainly 9th and 10th Century. There is a path – The Green Road to the Poulanass waterfall, the Spink and the lakes – so much to see and enjoy.
You can chat to Aoife or Barbara at Lynham’s Hotel about further information on walks in the area. Your donkey would be happy if you checked him during the day so that he does not get too lonely without you!
Lynham’s pub in Laragh is one of the counties most famous landmarks. Visited by artists, poets, locals, politicians, and real Irish characters you will always find someone interesting to talk to and you will be well fed.
Day 7: Glendalough to Cronybyrne
There is a lovely mountain trip via Trooperstown to Cronybyrne.
There are no shops or pubs along the first part of this route, so it important to bring nibbles and water with you. There are 2 shops in Laragh both close to the hotel.
Leaving the field you turn right walking away from the village of Laragh. You will come to Trooperstown Lodge B/B, which is on your left. You take a right turn here and continue over the concrete bridge, turn right again. Follow this road all the way until you reach the tarmacadam road. You will see a telephone mast. Turn left onto the tarmacadam road and at a right turn you will see a little old fashioned green post-box built into the wall, turn right here.
Continue to the end of this road until you arrive at a T-junction and turn right at this junction.
Continue along this road until you reach another T-junction and a gate lodge on your right. There is a tree in the middle of the road. Turn left here, the entrance to Cronybyrne Courtyard is just in front of you, pass this and walk for about ¾ km and you will see the entrance to our farm.
We’ll be waiting for you to share your experiences of the holiday before bringing you back to Jacobs Well in Rathdrum.
Day 8: Departure Day
Depending on your flight times, you can come back to Cronybyrne before your departure for the Airport and bid farewell to you donkey companion, perhaps giving him a carrot or two and a few apples for escorting you through the Wicklow Mountains.