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Exploring The Hill of the Fairies: A Guide To The Knockfierna Walk

Exploring The Hill of the Fairies: A Guide To The Knockfierna Walk

There’s some mighty walks in Limerick and Knockfierna is up there with the best of them.

Known as or the ‘Hill of the Fairies’ or ‘the Truthful Hill’, this curiously-named spot has been the site of both mysterious folklore and devastating famine.

Knockfierna is also home to a lovely walk with some cracking panoramic views from its summit. Below, you’ll find info on everything from parking to the trail!

Some quick need-to-knows about the Knockfierna walk

Knockfierna walk

Photos with thanks to @justcookingie on IG

It’s well worth taking 30 seconds to read the points below before you dive into the trail overview, as they’ll bring you up-to-speed quickly:

1. Location

Knockfierna Hill is almost right in the centre of County Limerick! It’s a 25-minute drive from both Newcastle West and Adare and a 40-minute drive from Limerick City.

2. Parking

There’s a parking area near the beginning of the trail head roughly here on Google Maps. This walk tends to be much less trodden than other trails nearby, so you shouldn’t have much hassle getting a spot.

3. Length

There are several trails to tackle here and they range from handy 25-minute rambles to a moderately difficult 2.5 hour 9km hike.

4. Trails can be tricky to follow

The trails at Knockfierna can be tricky-ish to follow and there’s no maps online that we’ve been able to find. We’ve also heard people complain about a lack of signage/waymarkers, so keep that in mind.

5. Folklore and famine

From mysterious shadow men to fairies and druids, Knockfierna Hill certainly has a mystique about it that few other spots in Limerick can compete with! Sadly this area is also a location where the effects of the Great Famine were most keenly felt. Along the way, you’ll see a few famine cottages and a poignant famine memorial.

About Knockfierna

Knockfierna

Photos with thanks to @justcookingie on IG

While walkers will understandably be looking forward to the sweeping vistas from the summit of Knockfierna, there’s a whole lot more to this place than just the pretty views! 

Knockfierna is full of dark history, legend and mysticism and to walk upon the craggy hillside is to take a step back in time.

Its Irish name is ‘Knock Dhoinn Firinne’ and it translates to the Mountain of Truth, home of Donn Firinne, the Celtic God of the Dead and also known as the Chief of the Mountain and the Fairy King.

But as you’ll see when you pass the famine memorial, this was also a place of devastation. In fact, the area was one of Limerick’s most populated until it was ravaged by the Great Famine.

The plaque listing the names of the people who lived here and the population decline that took place in the following years is a poignant reminder of what happened here during the mid-late 19th century. 

An overview of the Knockfierna walk

  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Length: Varies
  • Time: 25 minutes to 2.5 hours
  • Format: Linear

If you park at the parking area we’ve linked to above, you’ll be close to the beginning of the trail (you can’t miss it – it’s near the Rambling House).

Across from here is where you’ll find the famine memorial, so take a moment to read it and gain a deeper understanding of what the area has experienced in times past.

Getting stuck into the trail

Continue and pass by the red gates and make your way towards the heath (along the way you’ll see several stone famine house).

Turn left at the quarry to begin the main climb up the heath and to the summit of the hill (easy to spot, thanks to the large TV mast).

Views galore

Once you reach the top, you’ll be treated to gorgeous 360-degree views of County Limerick, South Tipperary, North Kerry and across the River Shannon in County Clare.

On a clear day, there’s few places like it. Head back the way you came to return. 

Things to do near Knockfierna

One of the beauties of Knockfierna is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Limerick.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Knockfierna (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Adare for food (20-minute drive)

Blue Door Restaurant

Photos via Blue Door Restaurant on FB

Distinct thanks to its neat rows of 19th-century thatched cottages, Adare is a quaint little spot only 20 minutes north of Knockfierna Hill. There’s plenty of things to do in Adare and there’s heaps of great restaurants in Adare, too!

2. Lough Gur (30-minute drive)

Lough Gur

Photos via Shutterstock

Half an hour east of Knockfierna lies a site of not just natural beauty, but of historic importance too. With the largest stone circle in Ireland and the remains of Stone Age houses near its banks, Lough Gur is both stunning and mysterious in equal measure!

3. Curraghchase Forest Park (25-minute drive)

Curraghchase Limerick

Photos via Shutterstock

Whether it’s brisk winter ramble or a balmy summer stroll, Limerick isn’t a County that’s short on gorgeous forests to ramble through. With over 300 hectares of rolling parkland, trails, mixed woodland and lakes to get stuck into, Curraghchase Forest Park is a lovely place to explore and is less than half an hour from Knockfierna Hill.

FAQs about the Knockfierna walk

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is it tough?’ to ‘Where do you park?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

How long does the Knockfierna walk take?

There are many different trails here ranging from 25 minutes to 2.5 hours, depending on how long you’re looking to stroll for.

Is the Knockfierna hike hard?

It depends on the trail you take. What makes this tough in places is the length, if you choose the longer trail.

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