You are at The Gap, Ballinabarney, Co. Wexford. Baile na Bearna (the townland of the gap) is the gateway to the Wicklow Mountains from the lowlands of Wexford. The igneous dolerite bedrock that forms the steep slopes of Annagh Hill rises in front of you.
The area is steeped in history and folklore with the “Giants Den”, a rare type of ringfort, at the foot of Annagh Hill and the remains of another near Ballythomas National School. A sandpit mound at nearby Loggan is reputed to be the ancient coronation site of the chiefs of the Uí Chinseallaigh Clan and a bardic school of Gaelic poets was based at nearby Pallas in the 16th and 17th centuries. A wealth of folklore is associated with nearby Kilcashel graveyard which contains intricately carved headstones by the famous sculptor Denis Cullen from nearby Monaseed, and the graveyard is well known as the resting place for many of the dead from the Battle of Arklow in 1798.
At the first viewing point on your walk if you look north and northwest you will see the villages of Aughrim, Tinahely, Shillelagh, Coolboy and Coolafancy nestling in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. On the horizon starting with Croghan Kinsella to your right, you can see the distinctive peak of Croghanmoira, the flat top of Lugnaquilla and the pinnacle of Mount Leinster in the distance. When you reach the next viewing point on the bare rock outcrop by the stone wall, the panorama on a clear day is even more expansive. Croghan Kinsella is to the northeast, with the Wicklow Mountains in the background and the Blackstairs and Comeragh Mountains to the southwest. To the east the low hills of
Wexford including Carrickbyrne, Forth Mountain, Carrigrew and Tara Hill, can be clearly seen. Travel further along the wall to the northeast of Annagh Hill to get a great view of Croghan across the Bann valley and look down into Gorey and Hollyfort with the Irish Sea in the distance. On a clear day the jagged outline of the Welsh mountains will frame your view.
Your steep descent will bring you onto a level stretch of track which passes “The Hurling Green” where, according to JB Malone in his book Walking in Wicklow and quoting the 19th century geologist G.H. Kinahan, ‘the Wexford men defeated hurlers of Carlow long ago’ and acquired the name ‘Yellow Bellies’, because of the coloured sashes they wore on the day.
- The comfortable setting of the hospitable and atmospheric Gap Country Pub where you will hear tall tales and short stories from an eclectic mix of locals. Don’t worry if you have one too many, Seán will drive you to your accommodation.
- The impressive wall which runs along the spine of Annagh Hill and was built in the early 1900s by Jack Keegan for payment of ‘6d a perch’. The locations where the stone was hand quarried from the rocky hillside can still be seen.
- The opportunity to wonder at the grace and beauty of the birds of prey that hover over the woods and moorland in expectation of a tasty meal. Buzzards, kites and hawks are common and also keep an eye out for the occasional deer dashing through the undergrowth.
- The natural amphitheatre of the fabled ‘Hurling Green’ which resounded to the clash of the ash long ago. Other locations also lay claim to be being location of the first ‘Yellowbellies’ encounter but don’t worry, this is it and that’s no word of a lie.
Useful Trail Information
OSI Discovery Map Series 62
Grid Reference: T 10753 69258
Ascent: 260 metres
Walking time: 160 minutes
Start/Finish: The Car Park at The Gap Pub
Equipment Recommended: Specific outdoor walking footwear and clothing required.
Other Useful Information
Dogs: Dogs must be kept under control at all times.
You must clean up after your dog if it fouls in a public place.
Other Walking Trails Nearby
Croghan / Raheenleagh
On the M11 from Dublin or Wexford take exit 22 towards (Gorey, Inch). Take the first exit off the western roundabout and first immediate right turn directly opposite Greens Berry Farm. Follow straight through Kilanerin village towards Pallas. (approximatley 5km). At the Ballyfad signpost keep left, then continue straight on over the bridge until the next T junction, then take a right. Continue until you come to The Gap Pub on the right. The car park is on the left.
Trail grades give an indication of what to expect when out on a trail. The grade will give an idea of the level of fitness and ability required to use the trail.
Before attempting a trail, it is important to consider the grading to ensure it matches your ability and level of fitness.
Wexford Walking Trails are graded by Sport Ireland according to their criteria which is explained here.
Flat smooth trails, suitable for all users including people with reduced mobility, wheelchair users, people with a vision impairment, using crutches, with a buggy, with small children, older people and so on. Normal outdoor footwear can be worn. Source : Sport Ireland
These trails may have some climbs and may have an uneven surface where the going is rough underfoot with some obstacles such as protruding roots, rocks, etc. The routes are appropriate for people with a moderate level of fitness and some walking experience. Specific outdoor walking footwear and clothing is recommended. Source : Sport Ireland
Generally flat trails with a smooth surface and some gentle slopes or shallow steps. These trails are generally suitable for family groups including children and older people. Normal outdoor footwear can be worn. Source : Sport Ireland
These are physically demanding trails, which will typically have some sections with steep climbs for long periods and the going underfoot can be extremely rough including many obstacles. Suitable for users accustomed to walking on rough ground and with a high level of fitness. Specific outdoor walking footwear and clothing required. Source : Sport Ireland