of the new car park, beside the football pitch. Nowadays
walkers are encouraged not to park near the main building.
So what direction do we take? Anti clockwise is the choice
of most. Probably because you go downhill on the courses
biggest obstacle. But our selection is to proceed through
the wood first, years of practice you see. Never change
an ould fella.
Annoying if you want a quiet walk, though as you tend to
meet everybody else out for the fresh air. All the anti
clockwisers who form that majority, singles, couples, families.
Most of the time a friendly nod or wink is the password.
So off we go alongside the pitch, the new trees to our left
and a view of south Meath, well not exactly facing us but
a little bit to our right. As dusk gathers you can see the
radio mast flashing, all the way down near Kilcock. This
can be the nicest part of the journey, especially on hot
days as a cooling blast of air often seems to come in off
Tara golf course and hit you quite pleasantly in the face.
People familiar with Dalgan know you can choose a variety
of walks, long or short. Some prefer the basic walk in front
of the main building. Shorter but you can do it 10 or 20
times if the body so chooses. Some single ladies obviously
feel more secure not venturing into the woods and for others
the solid footing of the tarmac, especially if children
are tagging along, makes the almost square walk in front
of the college a very popular one indeed.
But we are in it for the long haul and after maybe 200 yards
veer off the tarmac and pass the statue of Our Lady and
into the Dalgan woods. Dark and leafy, beech, elder, oak,
chestnut, nettle. Just lush green thrown together by God
and man. No pattern, but the path dissects this piece of
heaven for some quarter of a mile. Other paths cut through
the wood alongside the main Dublin road and provide a haven
for those interested in greenery, the plant world and wildlife.
Our walk takes us out of the wood as a small gate allows
trekers onto a path running parallel with the Garlow Cross-Tara
Golf course road. To our right are green fields. So what
if a bit of electric wire brings out a bit of the modern
age or if the odd cow left over stretches onto the path.
Dalgan Park is a priests retreat first and foremost and
then a business centred on the farm. The cattle have to
be looked after and remember the walk comes free.
Downhill past another set of gates and then another and
we find ourselves back in the shade. Older more established
trees to our left while a wood planted around 10 years back
has grown considerably to our right. The walk takes a right
turn, dictated by the river which like the roadway now runs
alongside our hike for the next three quarters of a mile.
This is probably many peoples favourite sector. Completely
closed in with dense greenery on each side. Even in winter,
this feel of being cut off from the outside world exists,
so thick is the shrubbery with most wind or inclement weather
blocked. A glaze upwards gives an enclosed version of the
sky while fishermen often try their ability to catch the
perch available in deeper sections of the river.
Further up we encounter the back road out of Dalgan towards
Bellinter or Garlow Cross, a four road cross if you like.
Some choose to go right and shorten their journey back to
base at Dalgan but most give way, cross over and continue
the river journey. Only now it is to our right.
Again we are in open country with views in each direction.
Tara Hill is now to our back while sneak visions of the
Kilcarn-Kilmessan road can be just about visualised. Everywhere
we go these yellow signs exist. Enjoy the peace now
- but The new motorway is cutting through the southern
portion of Dalgan and while a distance from the main attraction
is a major concern for most established walkers.
There is a metal bridge over the river amidst further greenery
and another shorter route back to camp. But some 30 yards
prior you can further the journey, veer left and climb up
a steepish hill. What you are doing is encircling a wood
of some recent vintage. A further left brings you to the
most southern vicinity of the tour, dismount a few man-made
wooden steps and you are right beside Old Man River, the
very Boyne itself.
The smaller river which we trotted alongside meets the main
waterway about 300 hundred yards further on. The Boyne is
really silent at this stage and the sound of torrents only
comes to the ear when both join in marriage. And it is the
smaller one which produces the most noise, a rocky decline
as it enters the Boyne creates an explosive sound, especially
after a period of heavy rainfall. This meeting of the waters
is another favourite area for visitors and an ideal spot
for family picnics. The owners have gone to the extent of
introducing some wooden seating in recent times where the
walker, with worries on his or her shoulder, can reflect
A short rest and onwards and upwards, back to the metal
bridge, a left turn and head in the direction of Dowdstown
House, which now appears on the horizon. This portion of
the journey incorporates a steep hill and it is half way
up this obstacle that the writer again reasons why he walks
in this clockwise direction.
People have in general a habit of going anti clockwise because
of this same slope. Better to run downhill and all that.
To hell with the fitness thing. Arent some of us there
with the best of intentions re exercise, diet etc. only
to take the shortest and easiest way possible. Human nature
Which brings us to why we usually travel in the clockwise
direction. Matter of habit in fact. You see the darkest
place in the entire trip is in the earlier stages. If you
are going clockwise that is and just after the statue of
the Blessed Virgin. We tended to go out late in the evenings
and the wifes directions were to get this part of
the route out of the way first and not to go through it
later on when dusk was settling down around Dalgan. And
then of course, the Dalgan graveyard, so well manicured
and crosses erected in meticulous order, runs alongside
this section. The way things and habits develop.
Up the hill we go and an interesting plaque on a wall tells
us that this modified structure is called the Ha-Ha ditch.
Further on we travel through open country again. At the
moment the holly trees are red with berries, expect this
to change in the coming months, while to our right a sign
suggests Beware of the Bull. On approaching Dowdstown House
you have a selection of going left or right. You are back
on the roadways again and most choose to take the right
option. Older residents note that at one stage the main
Dublin-Navan road went right by Dowdstown House and the
building for long periods was used as a stage coach depot,
where patrons and horses stopped off for a rest and used
the amenities of the age.
Further on you encounter another four road cross. Going
right you head back downhill past some historic church remains,
while further down there once was a natural made swimming
pool from the waters of the river previously harped upon,
remnants still remain. Going back to that four road crossing,
a left turn brings you into the farmyard which is by all
interests and purposes out of bounds for the walker.
So it is back up to Dalgan of the grey stone, green lawns
and much recent renovation. A hospital has been added to
the south wing of the building and although close by are
handball courts and further down some eye catching vegetable
gardens, it is the wish of those running Dalgan that the
walkers avoid this section. Most of the sick priests and
nuns are old and value the peace and quiet.
But the walk is not over as the most popular section of
Dalgan is the u shaped route in perfect roadstone in front
of the main building. About three quarters of a mile in
length, this walk attracts the young families and manys
the kid who learned how to ride a tricycle and took his
first nervous yards on a larger bicycle, who will look back
on Dalgan with pride. Others on this shorter journey will
include older and slower walkers or the priests domiciled
nearby and deep in prayer.
Good fresh air in abundance though. And watch out for the
squirrels or the large chestnuts which fall in the autumn
from a cluster of trees in the right hand corner as you
look out from the main building. Terrific stuff, great views,
total tranquillity if you choose, nature at its best, children
at play, memories of 86, 87, 88, 90,
91, 96, 99, and 2001. And hey, its all
Taken from Royal County