Looking for things to do in Castlemaine, Boolteens and Keel? Here’s our selection of the very best they have to offer.
See the Jack Duggan Monument
According to legend, Jack Duggan was a Robin Hood-type, stealing from the rich to feed the poor after leaving Castlemaine for Australia in the early 19th century. His story features in the song The Wild Colonial Boy that has been recorded by the likes of Dr Hook and the Irish Rovers. From December last year, Castlemaine has been home to a full-size bronze statue of the man who brought international fame to this small fishing village. The Jack Duggan Monument can be seen right in the heart of the village.
Climb to Caherconree Fort
There may be great hiking in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, but there are some equally fantastic trails on the Dingle peninsula side of the Reeks District. Case in point is the walk up Caherconree in the Slieve Mish mountains that takes you to the highest promontory fort in Ireland. Said to be dedicated to Iron Age sorcerer Cú Roí mac Dáire and popular with pagans at the summer solstice, the trail head can be found off the R561 from Killorglin towards Inch. After around 12km, there is a sign for a narrow road to Camp, take this turn and follow it for 5km for the start of the walk. Be sure to stay on the trail, as it can be marshy, and enjoy the fabulous views towards Dingle Bay and Inch Beach. Steep cliffs reveal the walls of the fort. On a clear day, carry on for another half an hour or so to reach the summit of Caherconree.
Enjoy a pint at the Anvil Bar
On the R561 heading out of Castlemaine towards Inch, the Anvil, a lovely old pub, restaurant and rooms, is one of the gems of the Wild Atlantic Way. A family-run business, the bar and restaurant are decorated in rich wood and exposed stone, while a fire is almost always lit to take away the chill. Choose from local craft beers and whiskeys in the bar, or tuck into succulent Slieve Mish lamb or Dingle Bay seafood in the restaurant. Rooms are light and airy with flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi, some offer mountain views.
Stay on a real farm
Five minutes’ walk from the village of Boulteens and tucked behind the Anvil (above) is Murphy’s Farmhouse B&B. Housed in a pink stucco building on a family-run dairy farm, it has 11 rooms with en-suite bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and tea and coffeemaking facilities. Breakfast can be taken in a dining room with garden views, there’s a cosy lounge with a fireplace, and guests are welcome to see the animals on the farm.
Wake up to River Maine views
If you want to stay in the heart of Castlemaine overlooking the river itself, Castlemaine House B&B is an ideal choice. In the same family for more than four generations and dating back some 250 years, this is a B&B with real character. It has four traditionally decorated rooms and is within walking distance of the lively bars and restaurants of the village. Host Myra gets the best reviews on social media thanks to the warm welcome she provides.
Spot nature on the Keel Uphill/Downhill walk
Look out for all manner of critters, from natterjack toads and curlew to otters, hares and wild goats on this three-hour walk around the River Maine estuary. The route starts and ends in Boolteens and takes in laneways, riverside tracks and hillside paths. While the circular trail is undulating, the fact it never reaches more than 100m in elevation means it can be enjoyed by people of varied abilities.
Take in the Ardcanaght Stones
Ogham is an early Medieval alphabet used to write the early Irish language and there are a number of mysterious engraved stones bearing the alphabet around the country. Two of them are located in fields around 1.7km west of Castlemaine, north of the River Maine. Their inscriptions are too fragmented for them to be dated, but they have National Monument status. One is around 90cm tall and bears the legend LMCBLTCL LT, the other is a smaller fragment with V MAQI inscribed on it. MAQI appears on many Ogham inscriptions and is thought to mean ‘son of’.
Salmon and trout fishing on the River Maine and Brown Flesk
The Reeks District is well known for its salmon and trout fishing and the River Maine, which flows from Castleisland into Castlemaine Harbour, and its main tributary the Brown Flesk are two great spots from which to cast off. The River Maine and Brown Flesk Anglers is a good place to start when it comes to looking for an ideal location. In operation since 1966, the club maintains good relations with landowners allowing for fishing in prime locations. The club welcomes visiting anglers and can assist with licences which can also be obtained from Landers Outdoor World in Tralee. The season starts in late March and runs through until Autumn.
Read more stories on our Notes from the Reeks blog