‘Castle to Cave’ Camino is back this April

Eastern Harps GAA Club are excited to announce that the ‘Castle 2 Cave Camino’ is back for its third year and will take place on Saturday April 20th 2024 in Keash, County Sligo.

This is a looped 34km walk or a 21km walk that’s bursting with history, folklore, archaeology, and gorgeous scenery. The walk begins and ends at Eastern Harps GAA Clubhouse.

You will come across several historical sites on your walk starting with the Caves of Keash, Toomour Abbey, Lough na Leibe, across to Ballinafad Castle and Lough Arrow before you return home to Keash. Along your walk you will also see the famed Carrowkeel Tombs which a cluster of passage tombs that were built in the 4th millennium B.C during the Neolithic era.

Many myths and legends are attributed to the Caves of Keash. One of the most famous legends includes the first High King of Ireland, Cormac Mac Áirt. The tale states that he was born at the foot of the hill and carried away by a She wolf who reared him along with her own cubs. As a child, he was found by a hunter and returned to his mother Achtan, before eventually moving on to the Hill of Tara to become the first High King of Ireland. He was King from 204 to 240 A.D. This is the first landmark you will pass along the Camino route.

Diarmuid and Grainne also sought refuge in the Caves when they were pursued by Fionn Mc Cumhaill and the Na Fianna. According to the legend Grainne (who ironically was a daughter of the aforementioned Cormac Mac Airt) was due to wed Fionn but she fell in love with the warrior Diarmuid. At a feast she drugged the entire army and made her escape with Diarmuid.

Toomour Abbey is the resting place of kings and chiefs of Ireland who were killed in the battle of Ceish Corann in 971. It is reputed to be the final resting spot of the second largest gathering of Royalty in Europe. The area also hosted a huge Volunteer gathering in 1917 which was addressed by Countess Markievicz.

Once you pass over Lough na Léibe you march on down towards Ballinafad which overlooks beautiful Lough Arrow. The 1st Marquess of Osorno who became governor of Chile and viceroy of Peru was born here.
Ballinafad Castle also known as the Castle of The Curlews was built circa 1590 by Sir Richard Bingham on an ancient road that connected Ballymote and Boyle. Its purpose was to defend the pass through the Curlew Mountains. However, it needed to be rebuilt in the early 17th Century as it was partially destroyed by Red Hugh O’Donnell and his men. It was attacked several more times by the Irish during the Cromwellian era before falling into disuse in 1680. It now has earned the status of a National Monument and is under the care of the Office of Public Works. When walking the Camino, refreshments will be served at The Old School Community Café which is beside the famed castle. You will take off again from the Community Centre to travel the road that Red Hugh O’Donnell and his men marched on their way to the battle of Kinsale in 1601.

There will be three stops which will feature the all-important portaloos and where light refreshments will be served. We provide changing rooms along with hot showers to all participants on the day followed by a hot meal in our state-of-the-art Clubhouse. We will present all participants with many souvenirs of the day. To round off the evening and assuming that you have the energy you can relax with music and different beverages to suit all taste buds.

For 2024 we have added in an additional 21km route. This follows much of the same roads as the main route and will include water stops also.

Tickets for the Castle 2 Cave Camino walk are €45 (exc. Booking fee) and include everything mentioned above. They can be purchased through our website

If you have any questions or concerns about the walk, please just send us a message. Hope to see you in Keash on Saturday, 20th April!


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