IT'S doubtful any future fugitives will seek refuge at a famous Kerry hideaway after it was officially opened to the public on Sunday.
Glanageenty - in Ballymacelligott - was officially opened to the public on Sunday by former world champion mountain runner John Lenihan who was born and reared inside the little-known wooded glen.
Famously, Glanageenty was where the Earl of Desmond, Robert Monteith and Sam Fuller all went to ground from their enemies. What was an inaccessible hideout before, however, is now a fantastic looped walkway open to the entire public.
"It was great to finally open it," John Lenihan said. "I suppose Sunday's official opening marked the end of a four-year battle to develop Glanageenty for the public. It was a battle in that there was a lot of paperwork to get through and landowners to get on board and we then found ourselves hacking through jungle trying to clear paths.
"There were furze bushes over our heads and many times when we wondered what we doing at all," John recalled. "Any lingering doubt was banished in the last year and a half with the numbers who turned up to explore the area, thankfully."
One of the most remarkable things for Lenihan is the community spirit the campaign to open Glanageenty catalysed. "It has been incredible to see so many local people volunteering their time to help out. I remember one day going past some litter and by the time I came back with a bag to clear it it was already gone.
"There's a stream at one place you have to cross, but I came down one morning to find that a local carpenter had put in a bridge complete with railings!" The Glanageenty Walkways were completed under the auspices of the NEKD Sliabh Luachra Walks committee, who provided most of the works for the project.