Mount Nebo Walking Trail is a new addition to Wexford Walking Trails. Located in Hollyfort in North Wexford, we loved it for the mix of woodland trails and views. And who could resist a place as interesting as the name Mount Nebo?
The 5.6km walking trail starts opposite the old national school on the Monaseed road out of Hollyfort. With a car park right opposite the start of the trail, it couldn’t be handier. Initially, you walk through light woodland alongside the road, before turning left up through the trail. This is a lush and winding part of the trail, as you walk over the well-worn roots of trees along that pathway.
Interestingly, the trail takes you through a very dense area of woodland – the so-called Fairy Wood. Then you come out onto a Coillte forest road and there your loop begins. The rest of the trail follows along these roads and is even underfoot, running around the slopes of Mount Nebo and Slievebaun.
There are great views of North Wexford as you walk along, including Askamore, across to Craanford as you go up the southern incline. The inclines are fine, very gradual, so no need to fear them! Conveniently, four benches are dotted along the walk at decent intervals. So, sit a while, breathe in, listen to the wind in the trees, and keep an ear out for birdsong.
On your way back, you return through the Fairy Wood, and back down towards the trail entrance. Across through the trees, marvel a while at Annagh and Croghan hills (gold nuggets were found on Croghan Mountain in 1795!). And United Irishmen camped there in 1798 on their return from the Battle of Vinegar Hill in Enniscorthy.
Mount Nebo also has a 1798 connection. A townland once upon a time, it was home to John Hunter Gowan II (1727-1824), a loyalist renowned for atrocities before and during the 1798 Rebellion. The house at Mount Nebo burnt down in 1798 and the name later changed to Mount Saint Benedict. An architecturally impressive new house was built in the mid to late 19th century. It later became a Benedictine school run by a Fr Sweetman, with notable Irish politicians Sean McBride and John Dillon as past pupils.
According to Wikipedia (!), Gowan had 20 children – 16 with his wife and the youngest four with the children’s governess. Gowan is buried in the local Church of Ireland cemetery in Hollyfort. Intriguingly, two members of Cumann na mBan are buried in Mount St Benedict. Máire Comerford and Aileen Keogh were active in the 1916 Rising and afterwards and moved to Mount St Benedict when it was run by Fr Sweetman. The priest, who decided to grow tobacco there, is also buried in the cemetery.