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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Geographical Areas

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Devil's Bit and North Tipperary
County Tipperary
Geography, Chemistry, Biology, Geology
The Devil's Bit is a mountain in County Tipperary, Ireland which is 478m (1570 feet) above sea level at its highest elevation. It lies to the north-west of the town of Templemore. The mountain is usually ascended via the village of Barnane. There is a car park at the base near the village.
According to local legend, the mountain got its name because the devil took a bite out of it. There is a small gap in the mountain between one outcrop of rock (known as the Rock) and another small plateau. The bite the devil allegedly took made this gap. The legend suggests that the devil broke his teeth taking this bite and spat the Rock of Cashel from his mouth to where it now stands.
The south-western extremity of the Slieve Bloom range just touches Tipperary at Roscrea. The valley in which Roscrea stands separates this end of Slieve Bloom from the Devil's Bit range, which begins immediately south of the town and runs southwest. This mountain has a singular gap in its contour (very conspicuous from the railway), from which it was formerly called Barnane-Ely, i.e., the gapped mountain of Ely (the old territory in which it was situated), which is still the name of the parish.
The other chief summits are Kilduff Mountain (1,462 feet), Borrisnoe (1,471 feet), and Benduff (1,399 feet), all near Devil's Bit in a line to the northwest; and 4 miles southwest of Devil's Bit, Knockanora (1,429 feet) and Latteragh (1,257 feet).

The Devil's Bit offers expansive views of the surrounding countryside. When the cross was erected, it was said that nine counties can be viewed from the summit – Tipperary itself, Clare, Cork, Galway, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Offaly, and Waterford. There is doubt as to whether any part of County Cork is actually visible. One can see the Knockmealdown and Comeragh Mountains in Waterford, along with the Galtees, and, to the north-west, Lough Derg and the River Shannon.

The triangulation station which marks the highest point of the mountain is on the 'Long Rock' which lies to the east of the Gap. The Long Rock can be climbed if one passes through the Gap and follows the pathway to the right.

There is a military firing range on the western slopes of the mountain.


Carden\\\\\\\'s Folly The tower on the approach to the summit is known as Cardens Folly. The Cardens were an Anglo-Irish aristocratic family who arrived in Ireland during the seventeenth century. They purchased estates in Templemore and Barnane and became the principal landlords in the area in subsequent centuries. The most notable Carden was undoubtedly John Rutter Carden (1811–1866), better known as \\\\\\\'Woodcock\\\\\\\', so-called by irate tenants because he was as difficult to shoot as the bird of that name. As well as constructing the folly, he built a magnificent family home on the lower slopes of the mountain. Although the house was demolished in the early 20th century, the ruins of the walled garden can still be seen. In 1854, \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'Woodcock\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' made a notorious attempt to kidnap a lady, Eleanor Arbuthnot, with whom he had become obsessed. A detailed history of the Carden family has been published by a descendant, Arthur Eustace Carden.
Devil\'s Bit looped walk This is part of the Irish Trails network. It is a 5 km circular hiking/walking trail, with a climb of about 200m. This loop on sandy laneways, forestry tracks and hillside paths brings you up into forest, ascending gently to swing round Little Rock with fine views of the Galtee Mountains and Counties Laois and Galway. There is a short spur up to the cross on top for spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
View over rolling countryside west of the loop This view is close to the start of the loop walk. You can just see the lower edge of the forest and the bottom of the picture has a patch of wildflowers blooming in full sunlight. As you look down from the hillside you can see that the land is divided into fields for farming. The rolling countryside contains a lot of green fields, and there is the occasional paler field that has already had the first cut of the year.
Forestry management This picture shows some of the wider road towards the loop trail. It also shows the lower part of a fire break. Forest fires are a major threat to forests. When dead moorland vegetation becomes very dry it can easily start to burn. When fire breaks are in place they should be at least 6 metres wide. They should also be inspected regularly to ensure that there is no new vegetation growing.
Religion and nature Close to the top of the looped walk on the ascent of the mountain is a resting place with a grotto to the Virgin Mary, which was erected in 1988. At the summit is a large cross. A cross was erected on the Rock in 1953–1954 in celebration of the \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'Marian Year dedicated by the Roman Catholic Church. A committee was formed and planning of the work began in early 1953 and construction began in September of that year. Work was completed at a cost of approximately IR£2,000. The cross was officially blessed by the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Most Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Kinane, on Sunday, 22 August 1954. It stands 45 feet high and has a span of 25 feet. The base of 340 tons is 5 feet squared and 10 feet deep. It is amazing, given the steep ascent, that all tools and materials for this construction project were carried to the Rock by hand. The cross is presently illuminated at night. Holy Mass is celebrated at the base of the Rock each year on Rock Sunday, which is the closest Sunday to the feast of St James (25 July).
Wildflower ditches - Foxgloves are medicinal plants This picture shows a wild flowers growing in a ditch by the roadside on the way to the trailhead. The barbed wire erected by a farmer to fence off a field can be seen in the background. In the foreground an early summer \\\'bouquet\\\' of grasses and flowers, including Bush Vetch, Cow parsley and Foxgloves. The foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, is one of the most familiar of our wild flowers and certainly the most distinctive. Its association with man is long and complex. Digitalin, which is extracted from it, is a powerful poison and an important drugs in the treatment of heart complaints. Yet the tall spires of long tubular bells and clear pink colouring made the step from medicinal hedgerow plant to border decoration inevitable. Digitalis purpurea is a biennial, seeding freely when happy. Since it does not produce flowers (nor, therefore, seeds) until its second year, you must plant them two years running to have foxgloves every summer. Seeds can lie dormant for years if conditions are unfavourable - if there is inadequate light or moisture. Occasionally, when an area of commercial woodland has been clear felled, especially when it is on an old site of deciduous trees, the next summer may yield a vast crop of foxgloves. Whole hillsides become sheets of purple where the seed bank has been exposed and the sudden influx of light and rain enables it to germinate. Although we associate it with woodland, the foxglove is essentially a hedgerow plant. It thrives best in dappled shade and is perfectly adapted to cope in sites where light varies throughout the day. It is an invaluable asset in a country where most gardens are small and separated from each other by hedges, fences or walls: perimeters are the most awkward areas of the garden but exactly the sort of venue this plant would choose for itself.
Spot man\'s interventions This picture is on the ascent above Carden\'s Folly. It has many points of interest in terms of intervention. The foreground of the picture has natural plant growth but on the slope you can see the managed coniferous forestry trees. In line with the slope of the hill you can see wooden poles with telecommunications wires running across them. On the mid-right of the picture you can just make out buildings - Thurles town. Beyond Thurles you can just see wind vanes from a wind power plant. This area also contains a disused mine - where zinc and lead were mined. There is a seam of rock containing lead-zinc ore running north east to south west of Ireland.