The Glen is one of the most interesting natural phenomena on the Coolera peninsula: a narrow, deep and long chasm on the south face of Knocknarea. This cleft in the mountain runs for about three quarters of a mile and is more or less uniform in depth (60ft) and width (40ft). If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of life with a step into nature, the Glen is a must do in Strandhill.

The vegetation in the Glen is luxuriant and its flora has made it an attraction for botanists from near and far. The sycamore, the beech, the Scots pine and and the oak all flourish here. The hazel, the holly, the honeysuckle and the bramble-bush also thrive between the cliff faces. There is an abundance of ivy throughout, whilst one of the most striking features of the vegetation is the extreme heights attained by both the fern and nettle families.


It is popularly supposed this unique passage was formed by some eruption or earthquake which parted the side of the mountain and tore apart the vast strata of limestone.

The Glen was excellently described by journalist William Bulfin in 1903: “Soon after coming to the slope of the hill you meet one of the queerest, wildest, and most beautiful of glens. It is a wondrously romantic freak of nature planted there in a cleft in the rock and walled off from the world, as if the Great Mother meant to lock it up and hide it away for her own use. It is thickly wooded, narrow and deep. The trees meet over the path in places, and the ferns touch you as you pass. The spirits of Knocknarea must love it. One can fancy how they made it their own centuries ago. A mystic poet might dream his life away in it, holding communication with the hero-dead of Connacht.”


The entrance is from the western side and is easy to miss so keep your eyes open. Very soon after the turnoff to Knocknarea (see directions for Knocknarea), you will see a well on your left. Directly across the road is a gate which is the access point.

If there has been rain in recent days, the Glen will be wet and muddy, as the rain flows from the mountain down into the cleft. We would recommend a good pair of boots and care should be taken as there are a number of overhangs and cliffs that can be dangerous.