A golden moment
Ditch worries of national debt on a ramble in Tipperary
Wednesday afternoon of a recent week and I’d had enough of the endless circular arguments among politicians and the media. But where to go on an abbreviated October evening? Then I remembered a route I traversed some years ago when it was choked with weeds and briars and barely passable. Under the admirable Walks Scheme, which has done so much to make the Irish countryside accessible to all, the Tipperary Heritage Way from Golden, Co Tipperary had since, I was told, been much improved and now offered an irresistible and undemanding escape.
My ramble began from nearby the precarious looking ruins of a once proud tower house standing sentinel on an island in the river Suir. Immediately finding refuge in politics-free serenity, I footed it up-river with just a few imperious swans for company. Then the Suir ox-bowed east in a graceful sweep, a well-developed trail led me easily through the fertile south Tipperary countryside.
There is invariably something calming about following a riverbank. Very soon, slow motion time was drifting indolently by, as I left behind the grim realities of spending cuts and our huge overhanging bank debt by tuning myself instead to the soporific sounds and ageless appeal of the waterside.
In wavy river light a couple of trout rose languorously, an impertinent moorhen burst forth to break the stillness, while statuesque herons stood silent and watchful as they doubtless will still do when the “age of austerity” is but a memory to perplex historians. Now a soft shower enveloped me, but it didn’t matter for it cleared to reveal a fiery autumnal sunset.
Then as the thin light of an autumn evening shrouded the riverbank, the dreary, economic woes of the 21st century seemed far away and I reflected that, while successive generations come and go with their trivial cares, the river journeys onwards eternally.
Nationally we have become more impoverished, but at that waterside moment it struck me forcibly that those who can still find simple joy in a riverbank walk, continue to hold most of the finest things life can offer.
Eventually, it was time to abandon the dreamy timelessness of the waterside and head towards Cashel and harsher reality. In the dying of the October light I proceeded down the quiet Botharin Bocht Road – which must surely have been an ancient walkway for linking Cashel with the river – and passed the darkened, timeless remains of medieval Hoare Abbey.
Then, with the first stars twinkling in an azure sky, I began ascending the Rock of Cashel. At that moment the floodlights sprang to life, resplendently illuminating a great monument that has seen far harsher times when Vikings, Normans and Cromwellians in turn came to plunder and lay waste the surrounding landscape. And then I thought how blessed we are to live in a peaceful, freedom affirming, and by almost all standards, lucky country.
Recession or not, there is still nowhere in the world to quite compare with Ireland.
Startpoint: The trailhead is beside the bridge in Golden, Co Tipperary, which lies on the main N74 between Cashel and Tipperary town.
Suitability: Easy, well signposted, 8km outing following the bank of River Suir and a minor road near Cashel. Walking Time: Leisurely 2.5hrs.
Map: Discovery Series, sheet 66