Shehy mountains
The Shehy Mountains are a range of low mountains situated on the border between County Cork
County Cork
County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is located in the South-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. It is named after the city of Cork . Cork County Council is the local authority for the county...

 and County Kerry
County Kerry
Kerry means the "people of Ciar" which was the name of the pre-Gaelic tribe who lived in part of the present county. The legendary founder of the tribe was Ciar, son of Fergus mac Róich. In Old Irish "Ciar" meant black or dark brown, and the word continues in use in modern Irish as an adjective...

, in Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...


Geography and geology

The highest peak (also the highest mountain in County Cork), Knockboy
Knockboy is a 706-metre-high mountain on the border between counties Cork and Kerry in Ireland. It is the highest peak in the Shehy mountain range and the highest mountain in County Cork with its summit shared with County Kerry. It is the 104th highest peak in Ireland...

 (Cnoc Buí, "yellow hill"), is 706 metres high and most of the other peaks in the range are between 500 and 600 metres high. The River Lee
River Lee (Ireland)
The Lee is a river in Ireland. It rises in the Shehy Mountains on the western border of County Cork and flows eastwards through Cork City, where it splits in two for a short distance, creating an island on which Cork's city centre is built, and empties into the Celtic Sea at Cork Harbour on the...

 rises in Coomroe, a small valley at the eastern end of the range, before flowing eastwards towards Cork Harbour
Cork Harbour
Cork Harbour is a natural harbour and river estuary at the mouth of the River Lee in County Cork, Ireland. It is one of several which lay claim to the title of "second largest natural harbour in the world by navigational area" . Other contenders include Halifax Harbour in Canada, and Poole Harbour...

, where it enters the sea. The peaks mostly consist of Old Red Sandstone
Old Red Sandstone
The Old Red Sandstone is a British rock formation of considerable importance to early paleontology. For convenience the short version of the term, 'ORS' is often used in literature on the subject.-Sedimentology:...

 laid down in the Devonian
The Devonian is a geologic period and system of the Paleozoic Era spanning from the end of the Silurian Period, about 416.0 ± 2.8 Mya , to the beginning of the Carboniferous Period, about 359.2 ± 2.5 Mya...

 era. During the Ice Age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

, the Shehys took their present form, when glaciers carved out the many deep valleys in the area and also eroded the mountains down to their present height. When the icecaps retreated, they left behind hundreds of lakes in the valleys and on the mountain tops.


The Shehy Mountains are mostly covered with peat bogs and coarse grassland, but there are also some small conifer plantations scattered around the area. Plants typically found here include butterworts, sundew
Drosera, commonly known as the sundews, comprise one of the largest genera of carnivorous plants, with at least 194 species. These members of the family Droseraceae lure, capture, and digest insects using stalked mucilaginous glands covering their leaf surface. The insects are used to supplement...

s, heather
Calluna vulgaris is the sole species in the genus Calluna in the family Ericaceae. It is a low-growing perennial shrub growing to tall, or rarely to and taller, and is found widely in Europe and Asia Minor on acidic soils in open sunny situations and in moderate shade...

, and bilberry
Bilberry is any of several species of low-growing shrubs in the genus Vaccinium , bearing edible berries. The species most often referred to is Vaccinium myrtillus L., but there are several other closely related species....

, among many others.


The animal species found in the Shehies are mostly the same as those found throughout the lowlands, but some are more often seen in the mountains than elsewhere, including:

  • Irish Hare
    Mountain Hare
    The Mountain Hare , also known as Blue Hare, Tundra Hare, Variable Hare, White Hare, Alpine Hare and Irish Hare, is a hare, which is largely adapted to polar and mountainous habitats. It is distributed from Fennoscandia to eastern Siberia; in addition there are isolated populations in the Alps,...

  • European Stonechat
    European Stonechat
    The European Stonechat is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a subspecies of the Common Stonechat. Long considered a member of the thrush family Turdidae, genetic evidence has placed it and its relatives in the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae.It is 11.5–13 cm long and...

  • Raven
    Common Raven
    The Common Raven , also known as the Northern Raven, is a large, all-black passerine bird. Found across the northern hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed of all corvids...


The area has a very long history of human habitation, going back at least 5000 years. Numerous Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 megalithic monuments
A megalith is a large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. Megalithic describes structures made of such large stones, utilizing an interlocking system without the use of mortar or cement.The word 'megalith' comes from the Ancient...

 are found in the foothills and valleys, as well as ringfort
Ringforts are circular fortified settlements that were mostly built during the Iron Age , although some were built as late as the Early Middle Ages . They are found in Northern Europe, especially in Ireland...

s, fulachta fia
Fulacht fiadh
A fulacht fiadh is a type of archaeological site found in Ireland. In England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man they are known as burnt mounds. They commonly survive as a low horseshoe-shaped mound of charcoal-enriched soil and heat shattered stone with a slight depression at its centre showing...

 and later antiquities.
One of the most historic sites in the Shehy mountains is Gougane Barra
Gougane Barra
Gougane Barra is a settlement, west of Macroom in County Cork, Ireland.The name Gougane Barra comes from Saint Finbarr, who is said to have built a monastery on an island in the lake nearby during the 6th century. The present ruins date from around 1700 when a priest called Denis O'Mahony...

 in the Coomroe valley, where Saint Finbarr established a hermitage in the 6th century.
During the Irish War of Independence
Irish War of Independence
The Irish War of Independence , Anglo-Irish War, Black and Tan War, or Tan War was a guerrilla war mounted by the Irish Republican Army against the British government and its forces in Ireland. It began in January 1919, following the Irish Republic's declaration of independence. Both sides agreed...

, the mountains were an IRA
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

 stronghold, and continued to be so for the anti-treaty forces during the Irish Civil War
Irish Civil War
The Irish Civil War was a conflict that accompanied the establishment of the Irish Free State as an entity independent from the United Kingdom within the British Empire....


Highest Points

The following table lists the 5 highest major mountain peaks of the Shehy Mountains, all with a topographic elevation of at least 625 metres (2,050 ft). After the top five, height does not vary much in the Shehy Mountains, with most peaks ranging between 450 and 600 metres.
A ranking is a relationship between a set of items such that, for any two items, the first is either 'ranked higher than', 'ranked lower than' or 'ranked equal to' the second....

Mountain peak
Summit (topography)
In topography, a summit is a point on a surface that is higher in elevation than all points immediately adjacent to it. Mathematically, a summit is a local maximum in elevation...

1 Knockboy
Knockboy is a 706-metre-high mountain on the border between counties Cork and Kerry in Ireland. It is the highest peak in the Shehy mountain range and the highest mountain in County Cork with its summit shared with County Kerry. It is the 104th highest peak in Ireland...

706 m (2,316.3 ft)
2 Caoinkeen 692 m (2,270.3 ft)
3 Knockboy North Top 649 m (2,129.3 ft)
4 Knocknamanagh 637 m (2,089.9 ft)
5 Knocknamanagh NE Top 625 m (2,050.5 ft)
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