AN old Chinese saying goes, “if you want to know what lies ahead talk to those coming back.” An out and back walk has something of that in it. A quiet, country-road ramble runs southward through Callaghane townland. Although it is possible to do a loop walk using the busy Dunmore road as part of the return, I prefer an out and back approach to this two-hour ramble. Start point is Callaghane junction, let’s say Kennedy’s Pub on the Wateford-Dunmore road. From there take the Ballygunner road around the corner from Kennedy’s. From this take the first turn left and continue along this relaxing and quiet road.
Further along, the road turns more sylvan as you enter an area of mixed woodland offering a sheltering canopy on a sweltering day. Hedgerow life is rich all the way out to the T Junction above Belle Lake, at 3.6km from the start. On the way, the road begins to rise into a long gentle hill from an ivy-covered stone bridge which marks the boundary between Callaghane and Knockhouse. At the top of the hill pause to take in a great view which also gives an idea of the low-lying land which was once Callaghane Bog. Before returning detour for a while along the road from the T Junction for views of Belle Lake. If you are using the main road as a return route be mindful of the heavy traffic. On the way to the main road you will pass the old Belle Lake or Knockhouse schoolhouse on your right, now put to other use.
Start/Finish: Kennedy’s thatched pub, Callaghane, junction of main Waterford-Dunmore road and the Callaghane-Ballygunner road; Distance: Approximately 7km; Time: About 2 hours; Suitability: Easy.
Canon Patrick Power: The Irish name given by Canon Power in Placenames of the Decies is Ceallachán, the exact meaning of which remains unresolved, possibly though ‘a wettish place’. And if anyone should know its meaning, it is the same renowned scholar of history and placenames who was born in Callaghane townland in 1862. Patrick Power went to school in Ballygunner National School before going on to secondary school in Waterford. His preparation for the priesthood took place at St John’s College, Waterford. After his ordination he was posted to Liverpool and subsequently Australia. On his return to Ireland he recovered well from a bout of tuberculosis. His reputation as a local archaeologist led to an appointment as lecturer in Archaeology at Maynooth and later at University College Cork, where he became Professor of Archaeology. He investigated the archaeology of County Waterford and took a particular interest in the ruined monastic churches of Gaultier. He wrote a parochial history of the Dioceses of Waterford and Lismore and then in 1907 published his influential Placenames of the Decies to which this writer is greatly indebted.
A year before he died, Professor Alfred O’Rahilly visited Power in 1950. An old man then of 89, Power brought O’Rahilly into the book-lined sitting room and pointed to the table where manuscripts were piled high. “This is the work of the revised Placenames…” Was he to know then how future generations would be grateful? A worthwhile life – to be remembered and celebrated.
Callaghane is a large townland located to the right (west) of the Waterford-Dunmore road, stretching from the well-known landmark, Kennedy’s thatched pub, at the junction of the Ballygunner and Dunmore roads to near Belle Lake. A quiet country road runs southwards through the townland. Several streams run into this low-lying area, once a bog. One stream runs under the well concealed Callaghane Bridge.
The townland, which was part of the Parish of Ballygunnertemple existed at the time of the Down Survey in 1656 when John Lee Irish was the chief landowner. Further on towards Dunmore the townland of Ballinkina lies between Callaghane and the Dunmore road. Jimmy Power, the jockey who rode Freebooter to a 10-1 victory in the 1950 Grand National, lived in Ballinkina. The Petty Sessions (district court) of the 1700s and early 1800s held in Callaghane included the case of a Mr Maher who was charged with fishing illegally after 3pm on a Friday. Such was the rhythm of life then and the state of conservation.
The pretty but unwelcome invasive, Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica, Ir. Gliunach bhiorach) has colonized numerous sections of our Gaultier roads and hedgerows. However, when I rewalked the Callaghane ramble in June it was not to be seen. Long may it be so, and local residents and walkers are asked to be vigilant and report its presence. The plant is an alien invasive with no known predators, unlike in its native Asian habitats where it is controlled by insects and other natural control agents. Once it takes hold it smothers out native and eco-friendly plants such as primrose and wild garlic. It is a tall plant (photo) growing to 2 metres with spikes of small white, seductive flowers in summer into autumn. It was first introduced to Britain to landscape railway lines in the Victorian period. It came to Ireland about the same time as an ornamental plant. The leaves turn red in autumn. It is spread by underground rhizomes or by flailing in hedgerow-cutting resulting in fragments of the plant seeding itself and forming a new colony. Please report its presence to the Biodiveristy Data Centre.
Supported by the Barony of Gaultier Historical Society