Knockma Woods

In Ireland’s County Galway, there lies a small, forested hill said to be a legendary faery fortress and former residence of Finnbheara, the king of the Connacht faeries. Of the two cairns crowning the summit, supposedly one is his burial site.

Finding Knockma Woods wasn’t easy–it wasn’t obvious on our GPS, and we had to ask a mud-spattered tractor driver for directions. Luckily, we weren’t far off–just keep an eye out for the small sign.

Start down the gravel path, past the lovely ruins of Castlehackett…

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…and you’ll soon reach the base of the trail. At first, I was unsure if this was really the mystical forest that I had read about; the signs emphasized nothing but the abundance of local tree and plant species, and it seemed to be a very popular spot for local joggers and dog walkers.

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However, five minutes into the ascent, and my doubts were squashed.

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Moss-drenched trees, gnarled trunks…

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…and faery doors!

Clearly, I’m not the first faery-freak to wander beneath this stunning canopy. I counted at least 16 little doors by the time we’d finished.

But it only gets better–halfway through the walk, and I was positively entranced by Knockma Woods’ ethereal beauty.

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Surely, I had stumbled into a scene from some epic fantasy, and would soon meet a clan of elves, right?

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Hop over the stone wall and up the hill (watch your step for sheep poop), and you’ll find the infamous cairns.

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Though a far cry from the forest’s beautiful mossy bowels, these twisted, wind-swept trees and scores of gray stones were nevertheless a site to behold–a spot worthy of King Finnbheara.

Travel Information: Knockma Wood is an approximately 2 hour and 20 minute-drive from Dublin, located near Tuam in County Galway, so you will likely need to rent a car.

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