To get there you take the Galway to Clifden road. Shortly after “Maum cross” on the right, just before a wooden bridge is a side road, that winds upwards (ten mins or so) to a small car park.
It`s quite easy to miss the turn off, so if you see this church you have come too far !!!
The drive up to the car park is not that exciting but once there, the “Maumturk” mountain range is quite impressive.
It is my understanding that “Maumeen” has been anglecised from “Maum na Mean” which in Irish means “The pass of the birds”. This was an important pre-christian site and was associated with the Celtic God “Crom Dubh” meaning dark, crooked one and has associations with fertility.
The cult of “Crom Dubh” is supposed to have practiced human sacrifice and it is said that St Patrick defeated him and banished his followers. He apparently spared “Crom Dubh”, as his good deeds out – weighed his sins. You could get away with a lot in those days !!!
Looking up at the pass you can see why it might be called “St Patricks Chair”. You then pass through a metal gate and slowly climb upwards.
The starkness of the landscape, the impressive “Maumturk” mountains and the absence of crowds really made this for me. It`s nice to be alone sometimes. The only person I could see was a farmer and his dog searching for sheep.
It did not take long to get to the top of the pass, perhaps a ½ an hour or so. I took a photo of a number of stone cairns, the small church and the Celtic crosses marking the “stations of the cross”.
I don’t know why perhaps the lack of people, the austere landscape, the towering mountains made me think of the famous words found written on a Jewish ghetto wall in Cologne. I have always liked it !!!
“I believe in the sun even when it`s not shining. I believe in love even when I cannot feel it. I believe in God even when he is silent.”
There is a small well dedicated to St Patrick here. I took a few photos of the votive offerings but decided it was not safe to drink from. A couple of hikers passed by, I said “ hello” and then I once more was alone.
I continued over the pass and started to descend down the “Inagh” valley. There was a real sense of peace and majesty here. After my recent hikes with “camino” groups, it really made me realize how much I missed being alone.
The mountains either side were stunning and as far as the eye could see, there were no signs of civilization. The only company I had was the odd flock of sheep who grazed by the side, unconcerned at my presence.
After an hour I came to an exit onto a small road. I believe it`s possible to continue onto “Maum” from here but did not fancy any road walking.
It was no hardship walking back, as it gave me a chance to fully enjoy “Patricks Chair” from another angle. It was all very pleasant and before I knew it, I was back in the car park.
I really enjoyed this walk and would recommend starting at the “Maumeen” car park. The drive up from the Galway / Clifden road (10 min) was quite drab and would dampen your enjoyment.
All in all this walk took about 3 hours, is quite secluded and would be perfect if you wanted to get away from it all !!!