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Rock Climbing in Ireland

 

ROCK CLIMBING IN IRELAND by David Flanagan
 

Rock Climbing in Ireland

ISBN: 978-0-9567874-2-2

Written by: David Flanagan

Published by: Three Rock Books

Reviewed by: Karin Magog 24 March 2015


Rock Climbing in Ireland is a selective guide to some of the best rock climbing Ireland has to offer. The crags are described in a clockwise direction, starting with Dalkey Quarry just south of Dublin, then taking us on a journey past the mountain crags of Luggala, Glendalough, and Glenmalure all south of Dublin, down past Coumshingaun, across to the south-west and the Gap of Dunloe, Carrauntoohil and Dun Seanna, up the coast to Ailladie, north to Ben Corr then onto the varied climbing in Donegal (Muckros Head, Sail Rock, Malin Beg, Cnoc na Mara, Lough Belshade and Loch Barra, then the islands of Cruit, Owey and Gola). From here the guide heads back east via Imshowen to Fairhead then down to the Mournes, south of Belfast.

Many of the crags in the guide are granite, in particular the mountain crags. However, there are also several other rock types all of which offer their own characteristics from the amazing crack-lines on the dolerite of Fairhead, the juggy horizontal sandstone breaks at Muckross, the sweeping quartzite slab of Sail Rock and the immaculate limestone at Ailladie.

The crags covered offer a range of settings with a good mix of mountain, valley and sea-cliff climbing. There is also a very comprehensive grade coverage from Diff-E9, so definitely plenty for everyone. The guide seems very friendly to use, with each crag having a detailed intro (including approach time, rock type, grade spread and general chat about situation and character), a paragraph on conditions (very useful given the variable Irish weather), directions and a clear sketch map. The climbs themselves all have a written description plus are shown on clear photo-diagrams.

The guidebook also has a well written and detailed introduction with plenty of info on the likes of access and conservation, equipment, safety, accommodation as well as climbing walls,etc. I particularly liked the paragraph on the Irish climate - ‘We have seasons but the weather doesn't pay a massive amount of attention to them. Of course the winter is generally colder than the summer but that’s about all you can say with certainty’. There is a useful crag table which summaries all the main points - number of routes, grade spread, walk-in time, rock, style, setting, orientation and page number. The back of the guide has a route index and a references page with details of the definitive guidebooks that are available and useful websites.

One of the main things I loved about this book was the action pictures. There’s plenty of excellent shots throughout this guide with a good mix of close-ups (which really sell the climbing) and long shots (which capture the atmosphere and situation of the crag) as well as the odd bum shot. They cover a good spread of both grades and settings as well. The stunner though has to be the front cover shot of John McCune on the first ascent of The Second Coming, a superb looking E7 on Owey island, Donegal. What a stunning looking wall, I wish it was a bit closer to home!

I really like both the size and the feel of this guide and it’s clear, uncluttered lay-out. David has done an excellent job and I can appreciate the huge amount of work that’s gone into it. I wish it had been out a few years ago when we spent two weeks touring Ireland - we bought a couple of guides but also managed to get other info from various contacts. The guide is a must for climbers based in Ireland who are keen to explore new areas but I also highly recommend it for those climbers planning or thinking about making a trip to Ireland from mainland Britain - even if you’re only planning a trip to Fairhead there’s plenty of great routes detailed here to keep you going for a few weeks and it will certainly inspire you to explore further afield. As this guide clearly demonstrates there’s definitely a lot more to Ireland than Fairhead!

 

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