The Slieve Bloom Mountains run for 24km and form a natural border between Co. Laois and Co. Offaly. The main geology of the Mountains is Old Red Sandstone. The highest peaks of the Slieve Bloom Mountains include Arderin (1,733 ft.), Farbreague (1,411 ft.), and Wolftrap (1,584 ft.).

Slieve Bloom
Courtesy of Arnold Horner 2006.

The Slieve Bloom Mountains are protected as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) due to their importance as one of the best conserved mountain blanket bog habitat sites in Ireland. A deep, sponge-like mat of Bog Moss, Sphagnum Moss and lichens covers the area. Various varieties of heather, such as Ling Heather, Bog Cotton and Deergrass form part of the characteristic vegetation. There is also an unusual wealth of Bog Rosemary and Cranberry, normally associated with raised bogs. Breeding pairs of Peregrine Falcons inhabit the bog. These birds are listed on the EU Birds Directive.

Three cone-shaped peaks extending from Wolftrap Mountain together with another range named the Ridge of Capard form a large curved ridge of roughly 6 miles in length around the south and southeast of the River Barrow Valley. The highest of these peaks is Baunreaghcong which stands at 1,677 ft.

To the north of the Barrow Valley rises Knockanastumba (1,359ft.) and Knockachorra (1,533ft.), separated by the Gorragh River Valley. To the southeast of Co. Laois lie the Slievemargy Hills, which are a continuation of the Castlecomer Hills in Kilkenny.


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