Ireland is a fantastic country for QMDs and blessed with some magnificent ranges. Not only that, the criteria for QMDs used by Mountaineering Ireland are more robust than those applied in the UK and are worth considering along with those from Mountain Training UK.

The country is a worth a mountain holiday, and the people are interesting too. Bear in mind that all land in Ireland is privately owned and there is not right of access even on footpaths: all access is by permission of the landowner. Most of the mountains, however, are either in parks or have agreed permission and mountaineering is popular.

Maps are more sparse than they are for the UK although there is an OS Ireland (OSi) that does some reasonable maps. However, for competent mountaineers who can navigate and route find especially this should not be unduly problematic. For those who rely on electronic hand held devices they are likely, as ever, to spend most of their time glued to a couple of square inches of LED screen and miss the best of what the country has to offer.

Good quality guidebooks are a necessary if you want to get the best out of the country and a couple are listed below. There are any number of mountain weather sources that tend to be as good as the Met Office.

Recommended Guidebook for ridge walks incorporating climbs and scrambles: The Ridges of England Wales and Ireland. Dan Bailey. Cicerone.

The Macgillycuddy’s Reeks

This country is the ideal retreat away from the Disneyfied and MacDonaldised routes and mountains of the UK (parts of Scotland excepted). Well suited to serious Mountain Leaders who are looking for honest QMDs that provide a real physical, mental, and emotional challenge. Definitely not one for the award chasers.

This area is like the Lake District on steroids with the best of Snowdonia thrown in for good measure. Sure, Carruantoohil has the usual morass of bucket-listers and cotton T-shirt and trackie crowds scattering litter and bellowing like slaughtered cattle, but you don’t have to go far to be on your own with only yourself to rely on and a very real risk ever present. It is a truly magnificent area and if you are extremely lucky you man even glimpse a sea eagle.

Maps include:

  • Harvey Superwalker Macgillycuddy’s Reeks. 1:25 HIGHLY RECCOMENDED/ESSENTIAL
  • OSi Adventure Series Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and Killarney National Park. 1:25

Check the Peaks Challenge route as well for an excellent/stunning/challenging one or two days out.


  • Jim Ryan 2015. Carrauntoohill and Macgillycuddy’s Reeks. The Collins Press.
  • Paddy Dillon 1993. The Mountains of Ireland. Cicerone.


This area is blessed with scrambling opportunties, many of them not well documented and many yet to be discovered. A quick trot around the horseshoe will show as much. I have heard that the gullies in this area tend to be unstable, although there are numerous gully ascents to Carrauntoohill.

Given the amount of oppotunity presented and the variety and scale of the country it is best advised to study the Harvey map and the guidebooks and then undertake appropriate recce’s to find suitable rock and scrambles. And/or, naturally, to engage with local people who have a good understanding of the area.

The route from Mad Man’s seat at the head of the Gap of Dunloe up over Big Gun includes a stunning ridge with a variety of route choices and scrambles and a separate arete. The only ‘straighforward’ way on and off Big Gun is via the ridge and the arete and it makes the Snowdon/Helvellyn horsehoes look like entry level walks.

Summits of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks


GPX file MacGillycuddy’s Reeks Summits

Ireland MacGillycuddy’s Reeks Route Descriptions in downloadable PDF format

Ireland MacGillycuddy’s Reeks GPX files Indicative Only: Plotted on Viewranger map

Ireland MacGillycuddys Reeks GPX Classic Carruantoohil Horseshoe

Ireland MacGillycuddys Reeks GPX Carruantoohil Tourist Route

Ireland MacGillycuddys Reeks GPX MacGillycuddys Reeks Challenge (Part Two)

Ireland MacGillycuddys Reeks GPX MacGillycuddys Reeks Traverse Baileys Route Derived from The Ridges of England Wales and Ireland. Dan Bailey. Cicerone.

Ireland MacGillycuddys Reeks GPX Purple Mountain Circuit

Mangerton Mountain

Fantastic Mountain. Mangerton summit itself is a vast boggy escarpment. The summit has a cairn and a weather station and can’t be missed. We were told by a fellow walker, ‘you’ll need a gps to find the summit in this mist’. We found the summit; map and compass with a bit of pacing, hit it bang on.

Mangerton Summits


GPX of Mangerton Summits

Ireland Mangerton Route Description in downloadable PDF format

Ireland Mangerton GPX files Indicative Only: Plotted on Viewranger map

Ireland Mangerton GPX Mangerton Circuit

Ireland Other Routes

Ireland Routes Derived from Derived from The Ridges of England Wales and Ireland by Dan Bailey. Cicerone. GPX files Indicative Only: Plotted on Viewranger map

Ireland Brandon Mountain GPX East Ridge Brandon Mountain

Ireland Brandon Mountain GPX Faha Ridge Brandon Mountain

Ireland Mweelrea Cicuit GPX

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