A Burren Stroll – The Templecronan Loop.
Let your imagination carry you to the Burren, County Clare, on the Wild Atlantic Way, and join me on a guided walk along the Templecronan Loop.
This is an easy 5km. walk, on flat terrain around Carron village, County Clare.
Your starting point is Cassidy’s Pub,Carron. Following the purple arrows of the Carron Loop, you go downhill along the road towards Bellharbour, pass the right turn, which would bring you to the magical Burren Perfumery and take the next right turn on to a narrow road towards Templecronan.
On the left, observe the grassy meadows, which contrast with the exposed limestone hills in the background. Notice that the stone walls here are smoother than the usual shattered Burren limestone walls, as the stones used to build these adjacent walls, were shaped by a glacier at the end of the last Ice Age, 15,000 years ago.
At the end of the lane, pass through a stile, turn right and now follow the green arrows of the Templecronan Loop, which will lead you through a series of stiles. (The purple arrows of the Carran Loop go left and uphill at this stile). Unexpectedly, Templecronan Church comes into view. Notice also evidence of ancient buildings and enclosures on your left. Clusters of primroses dot the meadows as you walk to the church.
Amazingly, you are visiting one of the five Early Historic Church sites in the Burren, yet the history of Templecronan is lost! Nothing precise is known of Cronan, who gives his name to the monastic site. The church is an example of 10th. century cyclopean masonry, with narrow east window and a trabeate west door, which is blocked up. The 15th. century entrance door is, unusually, inserted in the north wall. Note the numerous weathered stone heads imbedded in the outer and inner walls. To the south of the church is a tomb shrine. There is another shrine, outside the boundary wall near the east gable, which is attributed to Cronan. Pilgrims of old would approach the shrine and touch the bones of Cronan within the “ark-house” to obtain healing and blessings.
“The footprints of an elder race are here,
And memories of an old heroic time;
And shadows of an old mysterious faith
So that the place seem haunted
And strange sounds float in the wind “.
You leave, by the stile on the south wall and follow the track to Saint Cronan’s Well. On your immediate left is a low limestone cliff and on your right blackthorn blossoms are in bloom, whitethorn leaf buds are emerging. Yellow Lesser Celandines, white wood anemones, purple dog violets and bunches of primroses speckle the undergrowth with colour. The twittering of birds fills the air.
Cronan’s Holy Well, a spring well with a cure for all ailments is still visited and the Pattern Day is October 19th. The small mound near the well is the remains of a “fulacht fia”, a pre-Christian cooking place. Local people say that a second well, an eyesight well, is nearby, but hidden in dense brambles.
On leaving the well you make your way along a narrow path through a marsh. Soon you join a track, which may have been an ancient road leading to Templecronan. The track is bounded by two contrasting walls, on the left a Burren drystone masonry wall and on the right a dense, solid wall built using mortar and having a semi- circular cap. It’s said that the latter was a wall for a deer park in the past. As you approach the gate and the high, narrow stile, you will hear water flowing from another spring well, which is linked to the spring at Cronan’s Well, but the water soon disappears as it meets the limestone paving. This spring well may have been an eyesight well in the past.
An extensive area of typical Burren paving opens up in front of you, with magnificent clints, deep grykes and an array of wonderful karren (karst features due to weathering by rainwater).
There is evidence of a tombstone quarry on the right, where unfinished tomb slabs are abandoned on the clints. Heaps of recently cut hazel branches and twigs indicate the landowner’s eternal battle with encroaching, invasive hazel scrub.
Exit through the stile, turn right and right again. Pass the NUIG Field Research Station on the right and a pond, Poulmoneen,on the left. If it is not flooded, follow the Old Bog Road and the Carran Turlough (polje) comes into view. In winter it is a large seasonal lake, in summer it is grassland for the herds of Burren cattle that have descended from the high winterage lands. You walk away from the turlough and return to the trailhead at Cassidy’s Pub, where you may quench your thirst after successfully completing the Templecronan Loop.
“Our bodies know that they belong. It is our minds that make our lives so homeless”
– John O’Donohue.
To book a walk with me click here.