Cnoc na dTobar, County Kerry (XirCammini, Irish Caminos, Aug 2019)

Published Categorised as President's Pen

XirCammini will be walking the Irish Caminos in August 2019 consisting of (a.) St. Kevin’s in County Wicklow, (b.) St. Finbarr’s in County Cork, (c.) Cnoc na dTobar in County Kerry, (d.) Cosán na Naomh in the Dingle Peninsula and (e.) Tochar Padraig in County Mayo.

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This is the third piece of a five part series on the Celtic Saints commemorated on the Irish Caminos.

Cnoc na dTobar, approximately 4 km outside the town of Cahersiveen literally means ‘Hills of Wells’. The west of Ireland is renowned for its ‘sacred wells’ even from ancient, pre-Christian times.

Together with Mount Brandon (at the end of the Cosan Noamh trail) and Skellig Michael (the island monastery), Cnoc na dTobar is regarded as, arguably, having one of the three most well-known ‘sacred wells’ in County Kerry.

The Cnoc na dTobar trail represents a relatively short but steep climb, from sea level to 690m in a few kilometres. Because of this it commands very scenic panoramas of County Kerry above Dingle Bay from its summit, known as Canon’s Cross. The trail is deemed to have been a pagan pilgrimage known as Lughnasad (or Lunasa) commemorating the summer harvest festival. The old pagan story of Lughnasad centres around the sun god Lugh defeating the dark god Crom Dubh. Over the years, these festivities morphed into summer harvest festivals. In Cnoc na dTobar it become a Christian trail when in the 19thcentury stations of the cross were erected on the hill. The area is also linked to St. Fursey, an aesthetic, miracle-worker, visionary, missionary and hermit associated with the west of Ireland, with East Anglia and with France.

Part Three: St. Fursey, Preacher & Healer [County Kerry]

St. Fursey (or Furseus) lived in the late 6th and early 7th century AD. Born to a noble family in Connaught, he was baptized by Saint Brandon and was educated by St. Brandon’s monks. He also embraced monastic life and later became known as the ‘wandering preacher for Christ’. His life is chronicled by the Venerable Bede in his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum written in 731 AD. (a relatively comprehensive history of Christianity in England from the Roman Conquest to the Council of Whitby).

St. Fursey lived the frugal life of a hermit and monastic. After founding the monastery at Rathmat in Lough Corrib, he travelled to East Anglia and later to the Frankish kingdoms to preach Christianity. He passed away at Mézerolles in France and was buried in Péronne.

St. Fursey’s Well, on the Cnoc na dTobar is reputed to be the well where St. Fursey washed his eyes and was cured from looming blindness. The Cnoc na dTobar trail takes us past St. Fursey’s Well.

XirCammini Treks

This trek promises to be invigorating physically as well as spiritually (for those who want it to be so). Furthermore, there is nothing that beats exercise in fresh air in the company of friends for our well-being. One starts at the town of Cahersiveen and loops back to the town. Adding the walk from and to town to the hill the overall length would be of around 15 km.

While this year’s XirCammini Irish Caminos are fully subscribed, we look forward to hearing from you if you are interested in joining either XirCammini as a member, another one of our treks this year or the Irish Caminos in 2020. Our walks are not limited to existing XirCammini members or, indeed, to people travelling from Malta. For anyone wishing to join us from overseas, arrangements can be made for us to meet us at destination prior to commencing a trek. But prior notice would be required so that we can organize any local transport to / from start / end of a trek, accommodation as well as daily baggage transfers where applicable.

XirCammini is registered as an Association with the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations, Malta (VO No: 1646). Contact details: