Helen Shanahan, from Peaks Mountaineering Club Clonmel was given the task by a visiting Italian friend to show him the best of Tipperary. He wanted to be impressed and see it allâ€¦ as heâ€™d heard so much about scenic Ireland. Helen called in her friend, Jimmy Barry from S.E.M.R.A. (South East Mountain Rescue Association) to help and here is how the story unfoldsâ€¦
â€œShow me your country?â€ asked Umberto, an Italian friend of mine. â€œI want you to find me a spot where I can go for a walk in trainers, see rare orchids, sit on the top of a hill and see it all. And I want you to tell me a story and have a creamy pint of Guinness at the end in a pub thatâ€™s over 100 years old.â€
A tall order you might think. Where am I going to find somewhere like that? So I called in the big guns for help; Jimmy Barry author of Under Galtee Skies. â€œLeave it with me,â€ said Jimmy. â€œI think I know the perfect place.â€
So on a balmy July evening we met at a secret location. After 2 hours of gentle walking through forest, passing curious livestock we found it - the most perfect 360-degree crystal clear view of my country that I had ever seen.
Jimmy pointed out the Blackstairs Mountains, Slievenamon, The Comeraghs, The Knockmealdowns, The Galtees, The Ballyhouras, The Paps and McGillycuddyâ€™s Reeks of Kerry, The Devils Bit, The Silvermines and Keeper Hill. We saw the fertile lands of The Golden Vale and the silvery glint of the mighty Shannon River snaking its way to the sea. A kestrel swooped overhead. No photo could truly do it justice â€“ you just had to be there!
â€œImpressed?â€ I asked my friend Umberto.
â€œMagnifico!â€ said Umberto. â€œBut what about my story?â€
Take it away Jimmyâ€¦ â€œThe woods and valleys of these hills were roamed by Irish Outlaws in the 1600s who were a type of a Robin Hood and were known as Raparees. The hill walks in the area and forest are in the general region were the Raparee â€˜Ned of the Hillsâ€™ who was better known as, â€˜Eamonn an Cnoicâ€™, had his cave and burial place.
The peaceful village you see below was noted in times of old for its fair days which were often accompanied by organised faction fights, where teams of men would lay into one another with cudgels and sticks - sometimes because of a genuine argument, sometimes for sport. Indeed, the phrase still survives: â€œA fair in Cappawhite is no place for a man with a thin skull.â€
We headed back down the hill and finished up with a creamy pint. There was even a cool bowl of water for the dog (Finn).
So where were we? We did the Red Hill walk from the pretty village of Cappawhite - right on our doorstep.
So what did you think Umberto? â€œBellisimo! Bellisimo!â€