The “12 O’Clock Hills” is a local and popular name for a group of hills that lie south of Kilkishen Village, in the East Clare area of Co Clare.
It is thought that the name “12 O’Clock Hills” is derived from a tradition of telling the time by observing the position of the sun in relation to these landmarks.
The potential of these hills to provide a scenic recreational and fitness facility with a local history dimension was recognized and a voluntary committee was formed and the “12 O’Clock Hills” Recreational and Heritage Project was born.
Considerable support and help was received from Coillte(State owned forestry company) – Cooperation of local landowners was and is much appreciated – The trails were developed and refurbished – Ruins of houses were found and pathways to them made good – Information boards were provided – In September 2014 the “12 O’Clock Hills” looped walks facility was opened.
These hills form part of the Slieve Bearnagh Mountain Range in East Clare and the main peak, Knockanuarha, is 5k to the southeast of Kilkishen Village and is 309m (1014 ft) high and is marked by an Ordnance Survey Triangulation Pillar and a Compass/Sundial. It’s twin peak is 400 metres to the west-south-west and about 10 metres lower.
There are 2 start-points for the walks – the Snaty and Belvoir (More suitable for children) Trailheads with parking available at both.
There are two main trails – The 5k (1.5 Hours) Heritage Looped Walk is ideal for people with an interest in local history and requires a modest level of fitness. The longer 8.5k (2.5 Hours) Looped Walk goes all the way to the two summits and requires a somewhat greater level of fitness. This loop includes all of the Heritage Loop. There are heritage sites along the trails which can be identified using the compass/sundial and are suitably marked with Information boards.
On a clear day, the views here are magnificent with all the high mountains of Munster visible as well as mountains in Connemara. The Shannon Estuary can also be observed as well as Ennis, Kilkishen and many of the villages of East Clare, with West Clare and the Burren in the background. All around there is the natural tapestry of lakes, bog and woodland dotted here and there with the ruins of ancient castles.
Various events are organised each year incl Night Walks, Solstice & Dawn Walks etc and Fundraising is an ongoing necessity.
Sponsored wooden bridges across the streams, picnic tables and benches have been provided as well as sections of board walks and the Upper Crag Bridge has been restored.
“Take time to scale the twin peaks of the 12 O’Clock Hills – Co Clare trek’s majestic views from Shannon Estuary to Burren Hills” writes Tony Doherty – Click on the Link to read Tony’s full article in The Irish Times.