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A Mountain’s Purple Carpet :: The Knockmealdown’s

Post Blooming Season
Post Blooming Season, June 2012

The first time I heard of the Knockmealdown Mountains was the first morning in Ireland at breakfast. We were sitting next to an English couple and they were discussing the previous day’s tour.  We must have had that ‘where do we start’ (a.k.a., deer in the headlight) look and took pity on us.  One thing that they mentioned a drive they took through the Knockmealdown’s and the rhododendrons.

Let’s make sure everyone understands a basic premise here … I am not a gardener.  I have a black thumb and would rather do a million other things that spend time in flower beds or gardens.  I do, however, enjoy macro photography, so I can occasionally be found in a garden. However, my tool of choice is a camera.

Heather and Gorse II
Heather and Gorse II, September 2013

Our B&B hosts were patient and explained more than once the draw of the Knockmealdowns and the Vee scenic.  I was still ignoring, but my friend had her curiosity piqued.  So, we decided to head that direction on one of our ‘slow’ days.  Located between Cahir and Lismore, the Knockmealdown’s are a great transition between counties Tipperary and Waterford.  The landscape … simply breathtaking!

Since that day, I have driven through the Knockmealdown’s five times; four of those via R668 which is known as the Vee scenic route.  (The Vee is a switchback that when looking at a map it is very noticeable as it looks like the letter ‘V’.) The other time I took the ‘road less traveled.’  Together, those drives also covered three seasons.

Blackberries Along the Road
Blackberries Along the Road, September 2013

June 2012 … We missed the blooming season by just a few days.  There was only a remnant of purple across the landscape, however, the lush foliage made for beautiful, landscape images.  We were so drawn in, we went back a second time.

December 2012 … Taking ‘road less traveled’ through the Knockmealdown’s provided a very rugged backdrop to the winter weather.

September 2013 … There are a lot of pines, so the green color was still prevalent.  But autumn was creeping in and the landscape was beginning to take on a golden tone.

June 2014 … We hit the tail end of the blooming season.  While the rhododendrons were beginning to create ground cover with their petals, the mountain was, thankfully, still carpeted with purple flowers.  I remember driving up the mountain and thinking – okay, I see more purple than before.  But right before the ‘Vee’ there is a bridge and a carpark. As we entered this area, I knew at that moment was the fuss was about.  Wow!  We drove two and a half hours hoping to catch the sight and it was worth every mile.  (Note: If you scroll lot the end of the post, there is a video that will give you a 365 degree view of the rhododendrons.

Among the Rhododendrons
Among the Rhododendrons, June 2014

What is interesting about the Knockmealdown Mountains, is that as you drive from Cahir to Waterford you will go through three different type of landscapes.  The first, green and purple of the Vee; second, a rugged stone and heather mountain top; and three, a heavy foliage area that receives plentiful rains from the south.

Oh … and keep your eye out for the sheep.  They can be found napping on the side of the road, strolling along mountain paths or climbing the stone walls.

Regardless, don’t forget your camera.  It is an area filled with photographic opportunities.

A Winter's Knockmealdown
A Winter’s Knockmealdown, December 2012
At the Top of the Knockmealdown's
At the Top of the Knockmealdown’s, June 2014
Loughglenbridge, Knockmealdown Mountains
Loughglenbridge, Knockmealdown Mountains, June 2014
The Lush Foliage of the Knockmealdown's
The Lush Foliage of the Knockmealdown’s, June 2014
Knockmealdown's Beauty in Glass
Knockmealdown’s Beauty in Glass, June 2014