Highest point GPS: 51.797894,-9.304562
The Pass of Keimaneigh is a precipitous ravine, created by who knows what natual process between the peaks of Foilstookeen and Doughill in the Caha Mountains on the route between Macroom and Bantry. This place of ever changing beauty marks the western extreme of our parish of Uibh Laoire.
Less than two hundred years ago the only way through the pass would have been an almost impossible route amongst huge boulders, screes and dense vegetation. The only usable route across the ridge was high above the cliffs on the south side, and this was little more then a meandering sheep track through very rough country.
Continued below gallery
The Pass of Keimaneigh taken from Gortnafludig / Dereenlunnig. A telephoto shot.
The start of the old track over the mountain at Keimaneigh. Used before the road through the ravine was opened sometime between 1822 and 1830.
The entrance to the Pass from the west.
Memorial to the dead of the Battle of Keimaneigh, Jan. 1822. Erected by the Ballingeary Historical Society in 1997.
The calvary at Gougane Cross, Keimaneigh.
The name translates as 'The Deer's Leap', alluding to a folktale of a deer, pursued by hunters, leaping the pass.
It was an ideal place for an ambush and in the year of 1822 an ambush occured, possibly one of many. The resulting skirmish made headline news in Ireland and became afterwards known as the Battle of Keimaneigh. We plan to tell of this battle in another article.
As a result of this incident, the notorious local land agent James Barry, the' Barragh Mór', built the road through the pass at sometime between 1822 and 1830 to facilitate the swift movement of the Yeomanry from Bantry into the parish. This is much the same road that we see now, except that it had major widening work in the second quarter of the twentieth century.
Photographs taken less than 100 years ago show mostly bare rock through the gorge, but the situation is now very different, almost every square metre which is not vertical is covered in a rich mixture of native trees and shrubs, with a number of seedlings added from adjacent forestry. In icy weather the road should be driven with care as the winter sun seldom touches some areas of tarmac.