The inaugural Rhododendron Walking Festival, run through the recent June bank holiday weekend, was an incredible success with over 500 walkers estimated to have taken to the foothills of the Knockmealdown Mountains to sample a range of events during the weekend. 

Part of the attraction was that the weekend itinerary was varied. It included walks for all abilities as well as a wonderfully successful family friendly event at the Kildanogue Duck Ponds in Goatenbridge. 

Friday evening's event was opened by walkers at either end of the age spectrum, Edwin FitzGerald and Dillon Lynch. This was followed by a free heritage walk taking in the Reigh Cemetery and Clogheen Hospital, followed in turn by refreshments in the local hall where there were stands featuring local activity groups and entertainment by Cahir Comhaltas.

On Saturday the group took on the newly waymarked Knockmealdown Way from Ballyporeen to Newcastle. The 34km long route offered A (34km), B (18km) and C (9km) events from Ballyporeen, Clogheen and Goatenbridge, attracting walkers of varying abilities.

Also on Saturday afternoon, Clogheen Community Centre was the start-point for a fascinating historical tour with UCC Professor Emeritus Willie Smyth and historian Ed O’Riordan. This also encompassed Coakley’s Cross in Burncourt, Shanbally Castle and Shanrahan Cemetery. 

Saturday evening was a celebration in the centre of Clogheen with some wonderful entertainment from the excellent Retrophonics. The village was buzzing with activity for the evening, giving a suitably festive centrepiece to the event. 

On Sunday the signature events were two wonderful looped walks highlighting the rhododendron blooms around Baylough and Loughglenbridge. There were 3 hour and 1.5 hour events, both of which were very well attended.

The comments on the views across the Galty Vee Valley from the 3-hour trail in particular, were effusive. Entertainment on return was provided by the Fogues at Clogheen Community Centre while participants enjoyed a range of wonderful refreshments. 

Monday was family day, which began with a buggy-friendly walk from Goatenbridge GAA hall via the Knockballiniry Trail Head to the newly renovated Kildanogue Duck Ponds. ABGN Gun Club have upgraded this facility into a wonderful family amenity.

The weather was exceptional and the day included plenty of family friendly entertainment such as face painting, fairy door art sessions and a variety of treasure hunts around the duck ponds. Buses then regularly brought participants back to their cars. 

If you would like to be informed when next year’s event is getting under way you can sign up for ongoing information at and you can connect with the festival on Facebook/VeeWalks and Twitter @VeeWalks. 

The festival committee would like to thank everybody who attended the festival, all the volunteers who assisted over the weekend as well as all the sponsors, local businesses ant Tipperary County Council, without whose support they could not have run the festival.