Forrest Mallard - May 10, 2021

Great Southern Trail
Limerick/Kerry, Ireland
Start: Limerick
End: Tralee
Distance: 53 miles (85 km)
Time: 4-5 days
Difficulty: Easy
Surface: Rail Trail, Asphalt


Great Southern Trail Ireland Map

Not so very long ago, in the last days of steam, the locomotives of Ireland’s Great Southern and Western Railway (GS&W) would struggle their way for more than 2 miles (3.2 km) up toward the Barnagh Tunnel in Limerick, between Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale. The gradient, which began as a difficult enough 1 in 80, lost little time in angling its way up to an even steeper 1 in 60, a ratio that would hardly be noticed if one were on foot but that borders on the ridiculous for a hissing, growling steam engine trying to pull a couple of hundred tons of carriages and coal in its wake. For ninety-five years, between 1880 and 1975, trains of the GS&W ran along these demanding rails, but now the railroad is at peace. Trains no longer belch their way along it, and today the only sound you hear in the rather spooky Barnagh Tunnel, apart from your own footsteps, is the plopping of water as it seeps its way out through the mortar that borders its beautifully dressed stones.

Great Southern Trail Ireland 01

The mixed-use (walking and cycling) Great Southern Trail is a 53-mile (85-km) asphalt ribbon that runs through the quiet, untouched farmlands of west Limerick and north Kerry along the route taken by the Limerick to Tralee railway. In 2011 the trait’s volunteers won aEuropean Greenway Association’s Special Jury Prize for their efforts in not only breathing life into the disused trail but also for managing, so far, to keep it all in public ownership.

Great Southern Trail Ireland 02

And just try finding a “softer” trail in terms of the flora: mosses, lichens, shaggy-looking ferns, and liverworts abound throughout. At times it seems like the whole thing is dressed in green velvet, a secret garden where once there were sleepers.


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Hi! I'm Forrest Mallard

In 2005, I moved to Quito, Ecuador with $35 in my pocket and a small handful of online clients. Fifteen years and five continents later, there were moments of absolute glamour, as well as a number of brutal rough patches. But I always felt that a horrible day of travel is infinitely more preferable than a great day at the office. Oh the stories I could tell, and I will try to do that here in Tramposaurus Treks. You'll have access to the good times, the horrifying times, and a few well-deserved moments of travel glamour.

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