Go Walk: Rabhach’s Glen, Beara Peninsula, Co Kerry
Once the scene of dark deeds, the Rabhach’s Glen has captivating views
Rabhach's Glen, Beara Peninsula
Map: OSI Discovery Series, sheet 84.
Even though the Rabhach’s Glen is one of the most remote combes in the Beara Peninsula, it is easily accessible and a short walk will bring you to the site of a cluster of pre-Famine cabins. The cluster has an intriguing history; two murders were perpetrated there in 1814. Even without the dramatic back story this valley is well worth a visit and it is an ideal location to experience the bleak beauty of the interior of the Caha Mountains. The route to the settlement is way-marked.
Because of the boggy nature of the valley floor, the cabins were built on a rise of ground under a cliff and at the foot of a steep gully; not the most restful of spots during the occasional rock-falls that would be inevitable in such a location.
Neither was it a restful refuge for an unfortunate deserter from the English Naval Base in Bear Haven who sought shelter in the home of Cornelius O’Sullivan Rabhach. Believing he had gold on his person the Rabhach murdered him, an action witnessed by a neighbour.
During a later confrontation she let it be known what she had seen. The Rabhach strangled her and left her face down in a stream to make it appear that she had drowned. The deed was witnessed by a man who did not reveal the story until he was on his deathbed in 1830. The Rabhach evaded capture for more than a year by hiding out in a cave on the cliffs. He was subsequently tried and hanged.
If you are an experienced climber you can extend your exploration of the glen into a terrific mountain walk. Access to the ridge of the Caha Mountains is via the gully that furrows the cliffs behind the cabins and was presumably the route used by the inhabitants to access the upper pastures. It is an easy scramble but might not be so after heavy rain. The gully opens out around the 400m-mark and then you can strike out to the northwest to reach the lowest point on the crest above to stand astride the Cork-Kerry boundary.
The ridge to Coomacloghane (599m) and on to Tooth Mountain (590m) looks straightforward on the map but, as always on Beara, it is not easy to keep to the direct route due to the chaos of rock outcrops, so a little concentration is required.
The view westwards from Tooth Mountain across Kenmare Bay to the mighty mountains of Iveragh is captivating. The solitary sheep that shared the summit with us also seemed entranced as he stayed put on our arrival.
Dropping down to the col under the spot height at 513m, we kept on the north side of the stream which allowed an easy descent back to the car park across from which is a stone circle, testament to pre-historic settlement and, no doubt, further dark deeds.