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If you travel into a valley via a narrow pass and it opens out and broadens in front of you and it also has a pass or cúm at the other end – then you are in a cúil as in Cúil Aodha. Aodha is apersonal name, and was perhaps one of the original Ui Fhloinn, after whom the entire West Mukerry area (Múscraí Uí Fhloinn) was named. At any rate Aodh was an important enough character that he has come down through the ages to us in the name of this beautiful area. At the back of Cúil Aodha Valley, a very steep road runs up the hillside through a little gap and crosses into Kerry and past Ireland’s highest pub – the Top of Coom. Originally this road ran up the other side of the glen and was called the butter road. Daniel O’Connell passed along this route as he journeyed to Cork and further afield, however the road was well known long before that time.
Tuatha Dé Danann
At the bottom of the hill there is a bridge and further on another bridge with a sharp turn at one end. This is called droichidin Béal Átha’n Fhionáin. The route from this particular bridge back to the Cúm is called Cúm na nÉag, a name it received from the battle reputedly between the Tuatha De Danainn and the Nua Cheiltigh or New Celts. The Tuatha Dé Danainn were massacred and their bodies piled up so that one had to walk on them to pass along the route. At this bridge also is a green field between the main road here and a by-road leading to Faighil na nIomarach. This green space is reputedly where the Lucht Sí (The Fairy Host) play their hurling.
The Paps of Anú
As one retraces their journey east through the widest part of the valley towards Cúil Aodha, on looking West-Northwest you can see the proudly standing paps or Dhá Chích Danainn – the two breasts of Danainn, As you approach the village of Cúil Aodha you will notice the River Sulán meandering parallel to the road. It forms a loop around a football pitch and flows under Droichidín na gClár, west of Cúil Aodha. It then empties itself into Loch Uí Bhogaigh before gathering pace and running down hill all the way to Baile Mhuirne. The Sulán river is reputedly the only male river in Ireland and every seven years is supposed to rise up and say:
Mise an Sulán, fuar, fada, fireann,
Anois an t-am, cá bhfuil mo dhuine?
(“I am the long male Sulán river, now is the time and where is my victim?”)
Venues for Féile na Laoch
The Football Pitch is the venue for the Aeríocht at Feile na Laoch. This pitch originally had a Crom Leac (dolmen) on its periphery but that has disappeared over a hundred years ago.
Cuil Aodha village has amongst its buildings two good indoor venues – Árus Eamonn Mac Suibhne named after the revolutionary of that same name, and Ionad Óige Dónal Ó Liatháin named after the local poet and writer. These will feature largely as venues in the Féile na Laoch program and the Ionad Óige is the location of the Feile office. Across the road from these venues you will find the public toilets and swimming pool and a little further eastwards, the church Séipéal Chúil Aodha.