MOUNTAINVIEWS: Hillwalkers' Winter Talks Under Threat
The Hillwalkers' Winter Talks are over for 2017/ 2018 and we have a deficit of organisers for 2019. While the annual gathering is not at issue, unless we can find people to help organise the other talks, they may not happen in 2019, despite the reasonably good attendances we have had over the last few years. This is crunch time .. it's a relatively light bit of volunteering and if you were thinking you might do it, well, now or never.
Let us emphasise the annual gathering is not at issue and nor are the members meetups.
Hillwalking Day - 1st Jan 2019
If you love hill-walking, what better way to make to share that with the rest of the World than participating in a day designated to celebrate that activity.
Clubs and guides are invited to organise their own activity on the day. They can be as creative as they like and put their own stamp on what they think might attract new members/clients; or enhance the activity for existing members/clients. They're in control of their own hill-walking destiny.
They could, for example
- Do something that you wouldn't normally do, like a sunset, night or sunrise walk
- Go somewhere that you don't normally go, like a stand alone mountain that otherwise doesn't interest you
- ED: For example visit some of the MountainViews Local 100 hills in their area that they might not normally try.
- Set yourself a target for the year and start on that day
- Bring a friend with you that keeps saying 'I must go out with you sometime '
- Show someone how to correctly use a map and compass
- Walk with a FB 'Friend' (or two) that you've never met
- ED: Or show them how to get walks or summit information from MountainViews.ie
Featured Track of the Month The Mighty Quin
This month's selection visits one of the interesting hills squeezed into the links between the Ring of Kerry road and the sea. Knocknadobar would be an obvious example, but to its south-west is the smaller but still very distinctive summit of Castlequin. conormcbandon's route makes a quick ascent of this from the Kimego peat works (with a stark single chimney stack) before wandering over the lesser eminence of Slieveagh to the coast, taking in a truly spectacular blowhole...this and other features are the subject of some good photographs, and the whole enterprise emphasises that Summiteering isn't just about summits.
conormcbandon on Castlequin
Main walk Start: 16:58, End: 18:52, Duration: 1h54m, Length: 8.3km,Ascent: 506m, Descent: 475m Places: Start at V46538 82757, Castlequin, end at V45299 83386 1.4km NW from Start(statistics such as Ascent or Length etc should be regarded as approximate. Duration depends on the speed of the person making the track)
I parked at the trailhead in Kimego and summited Castlequin from the forest trails.
This walk includes an extension to summit Slieveagh and the large blowhole the highlight of the walk. Looking downwards and northwards from Slieveagh.
Rushing because of fading light I made it back to the Kimego peat works as daylight faded away.
NORTH: In the footsteps of the saints ...
The Inishowen Head loop and Crocknasmug Hill reveal some ancient saintly associations and spectacular views of the coastline and Scotland, reports pearnett.
pearnett on Crocknasmug: Inishowen Head Loop Walk
As I parked up in the car park beside the Stroove Lighthouse I then began the loop walk around Inishowen Head in an anticlockwise direction. The first part of this walk is along a road past a few houses and up quite a short steep incline and as you come to a makeshift parking bay you look out across the Irish sea towards Scotland the island you see is Islay in the distance and turning right you th ... ... Click here ...
NORTH: A devilish ascent.
PinkyFloyd considers the perils of ascending Slieve Beg in the Mournes via the Devil's Coachroad a little too great, and opts for caution, but enjoys the spectacle nonetheless.
PinkyFloyd on Slieve Beg, (Sliabh Beag): Stared down the Devil's Coachroad and decided he can have it
I know that people scramble up the Devil's Coachroad though the mechanics of actually getting up the top part elude me. Braver men than I! Standing on top of Beg, looking down the massive gulley is sure to make your heart beat a little faster. Great views of the gulley are afforded on either side of it, though care and common sense are required. Getting to Beg can be hard (Lamagan > Cove > Beg ... ... Click here ...
WEST: Walking with Grandad
Perhaps our youngest member of Mountainviews, intrepid adventurer ShaunDunne bags his second County Highpoint on Truskmore SE Cairn! Fair play!
ShaunDunne on Truskmore SE Cairn: Letrim - County high point - Done with my Grandad
While climbing Truskmore my Grandad and I walked over and bagged our Second County high point of the day.
Was very windy and wet up there today. ... Click here ...
WEST: Demonic origins
CaminoPat enlightens us on the Lug-na-nDeamhan near Lugnademon in the Croagh Patrick area, and how St. Patrick kicked some devilish backside off the mountain!
CaminoPat on Lugnademon, (Lug na ndeamhan): Hollow of the Demons
In ancient times Lugnademon was called Cruachan Aigle, the sanctuary of Crom Dudh, a pagan Celtic deity or God. Tradition has it that Saint Patrick subdued Crom and his demons and cast them into the hollow at the base of the mountain known to this day as Lug-na-nDeamhan (Hollow of Demons). ... Click here ...
WEST: An unlucky horseshoe...
The challenge of Connemara's Twelve Bens is well known to the seasoned hillwalker, and the twin arms of the Glencoaghan Horseshoe comfortably compare with the fabled roughness of the nearby Maamturks (in your reviewer's humble opinion). bunsen7's eventful traverse of the western arm of the horseshoe is a salutary reminder that even the 'easy' sections of tough itineraries can catch you out...having done his retreat down the glen myself on a previous occasion I was surprised to discover from his description just how vicious the network of streams forming its sides and floor can become. Read it and consider yourselves warned.
Bunsen7 on Upper Glencoaghan Valley's swollen streams pose potential hazard
The weather was forecast as changeable. We started the horseshoe in a clockwise direction from Ben Lettery in relatively| walk, Len: 12.8km, Climb: 1154m, Area: Benlettery, Twelve Bens (Ireland) Benl ... Click here ...
SOUTH-WEST: Waving, drowning...
The recent organized MV walk over Brandon fell victim to some decidedly Brandon-esque climatic conditions, and while some (fool)hardy souls bravely traipsed up to the ridge most were content with a lower-level pilgrimage down to Ventry. MV's leading altimeter-wielder jackill has survived that drowning to upload a track which crosses a land similarly drenched in history, while also taking in the awesome viewpoint of Rinn Chonaill on a day where you obviously couldn't see the view (but that's worth remembering on the days when you can).
[Foolhardy huh? Funny how viewpoint colours everything and speaking as one who actually did visit a proper mountain that day, I can tell you that doing this had its compensations. Smug satisfaction at reaching Pierasmore while also getting out of the rain quicker being two of them - ED]
jackill on Wet, Wet, Wet.
Things are bad when you find yourself in a carpark trying to think up ways of not doing a hill walk.That was the situati| walk, Len: 19.9km, Climb: 448m, Area: Rinn Chonaill, Dingle West (Ireland) Ri ... Click here ...
SOUTH-WEST: East of the South Pole (Inn)
Dingle contains much interesting high and lower-level hill country before you get to Brandon, and continental visitor David-Guenot has been partaking of it. The comparatively unfrequented Moanlaur ridge runs a lot further west than most pedestrians tend to traverse, and David's track climbs the culminating summit of Knockafeehane, directly above Annascaul. His route has the obligatory fine coastal views (if you can see them) but only consumes a couple of hours at most...those wanting more from the day could head east up Brickany from the start.
David-Guenot on Knockafeehane
We parked at the gap, crossed the fence and headed straight up to the summit, then followed the track to the minor top t| walk, Len: 4.1km, Climb: 215m, Area: Knockafeehane, Slieve Mish (Ireland) Kno ... Click here ...
Featured summit comment
Looking north-west to Keadeen (centre) and Lug (right)
THERE'S GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS!
In his summit comment of September 23 on Croghan Kinsella, a peak of over 600 metres in County Wexford/ Wicklow, Bunsen7 ruminates on 21st century wind-farms and a gold-rush in 1796. What possible connection could there be between present-day turbines and 18th century gold? Read his aptly titled 'Fine Views and a Gilded History' to find out:
Decided it couldn't do any harm to get on the M11 down past Arklow and make the journey to Croghan Kinsella. Coillte and the ESB have created a 35 MW wind-farm on the eastern flanks of the mountain between the main mountain and Slievefore to the east. Probably to seek to allay concerns of people in the vicinity, the bodies have sought to market the recreational use of the forest tracks that lead to the summit and the wind-farm from the entrance at White Heaps. I suppose in some respects it's not totally far removed from the late 18th and early 19th century when government-appointed geologists were directing gold mining works on the north of the mountain - there's an economy to drive one way or the other. Back then, men were tunnelling hundreds of metres into the mountainside, now there are structures rising almost 100 metres above the land.
A contemporaneous account by one of the Directors of the mine, Thomas Weaver (of whom there are apparently trenches named on the latest mapping of the northside of CK), offers a vivid insight into the times that were (see also comments on the Moneyteige summit page):
"The discovery of native gold in the Ballinvalley stream at Croghan Kinshela was accidental, and at first kept secret, but being divulged, almost the whole population of the immediate neighbourhood flocked in to gather so rich an harvest, actually neglecting at the time the produce of their own fields. This happened about the autumn of the year 1796, when several hundreds of people might be seen daily assembled digging and searching for gold in the banks and the bed of the stream. [...] The populace remained in undisturbed possession of the place for nearly six weeks, when Government determined to commence active operations. An Act of Parliament was then passed for the management of the undertaking [...] and up to the unhappy period of the rebellion in May 1798, when the works were destroyed, Government had been fully reimbursed its advances [...]. In the year 1801, the operations were resumed, when the directors proposed to Government not to confine its views to the mere collection of the alluvial gold, but to extend the researches, directing them more particularly toward the discovery of the auriferous veins."
Who knows what it will be like 200 years from now? An Ozymandias-esque array of decaying wind turbines presumably!
SOUTH: Knockout panoramas
Bunsen 7 ascends Knockmealdown Mountain on a fine day and enjoys wonderful panoramas of the Waterford Coast, the Nire Valley and the Galtees.
Bunsen7 on Knockmealdown, (Cnoc Mhaoldomhnaigh): Deep coum
Perhaps I just had a good day for it, but the conditions underfoot were as good if not better than those you might experience in many parts of the country, making for quick progress and allowing you to keep your head up rather than focusing on your next step.. Yes there is some erosion on the track up from the Vee over the Sugarloaf, but the dry summer appears to have helped somewhat. Ok, the exci ... ... Click here ...
SOUTH: Prickly ascent
Jonathan_Wickens suffers the jabs and prods of head-high bracken and brambles on his ascent of Slievemore Hill in the Mizen area.
Jonathan_Wickens on Slievemore: Great views - remote and quiet
Not a walk for shorts. Ciarraioch's directions are good but if you stray from the scarce tracks there is normally a choice between knee-high furze/gorse which fills your boots or if you go beyond the summit, head high bracken laced with brambles and briars which is slow and painful going. The easiest option by far is to retrace your steps to the road. It's worth it for the views from the top and e ... ... Click here ...
EAST: Sitting on a gold mine.
Bunsen 7 recounts a gold rush on the slopes of Croghan Kinsella in Wicklow in the late eighteenth century.
group on Croghan Kinsella, (Cruachán): A very accessible Top.
Park at the entrance to Raheenleagh Forest T1529471417 where there is room for several cars. Follow the main forest track up WNW keeping right at T1491772046, just after a dip in the upward path and then higher up at T1487973038 keep left. (Please note that the track on the ground is much more direct and easy to follow than would appear from those shown on OSi Sheet 62 (3rd Edition) and that no tr ... ... Click here ...
EAST: A holiday home on the summit!
Ballyhack Hill in Wexford is probably unique in that its highest point is just outside the back door of a modern holiday home, reports sandman.
sandman on Ballyhack Hill: Coastal Hill
Access to this hill is via the gravel track at S7058711132 passing by an old farm yard thru some opened farm gates and surprise surprise what greets you at the summit area.The high point just right of the back door of this holiday home with its fantastic views over Passage East. Yes this is the only access to the house. ... Click here ...
EAST: Diligence and Best Endeavour...
The Monaghan Way is a 56km ramble through that county's heritage, taking in cross-country sections, quiet lanes, riversides and lake shores with little that could reasonably be described as 'hillwalking'. jgfitz has covered the stretch from Inniskeen to Lough Muckno, during which he describes crossing active farmland and encountering some sombre links with the past, but the countryside is now peaceful and attractive.
jgfitz on Monaghan Way Part 3: Inniskeen to Lough Muckno
The Monaghan Way is from Monaghan Town to Inniskeen. Strictly speaking, Section 3 is from Castleblaney to Inniskeen, but| walk, Len: 11.9km, Climb: 210m, Area: Cooley/Gullion (Ireland) ... Click here ...
The unforested area around the summit of Mullaghmeen Hill in the North Midlands is covered in brambles and gorse which attracts an inordinate number of butterflies and bees, reports Bunsen7
Bunsen7 on Mullaghmeen, (Mullach Mín): Unforested summit area a haven for wildlife
Ironically most of the area in the close vicinity of the "summit" is not deeply forested. There are brambles and gorse allowing wildlife to flourish. My visit in summer meant a huge number of butterflies and bees in particular could be seen enjoying the flowering foxgloves.
The picture shows the track over the summit. There is some gorse encroaching on the path so this may perturb some children ... ... Click here ...
SPAIN: Gone to the dogs again
GSheehy has returned to the Canary Islands and has returned with a track containing an aroma of brevity unusual among his oeuvre (but still over 30km, obviously). It takes in the summit of Guajara at over 2700m amidst some bold volcanic landscapes, and is accompanied by text which doesn't spell out in huge detail what the walk entails, but does include handy little hints (e.g. where to find tree cover) and route suggestions which may intrigue the reader enough to do their own research.
GSheehy on Circuito de Vilaflor
An early (05:50) bus from Los Cristianos to Vilaflor. There are three bus stops in Vilaflor: one where my track starts, | walk, Len: 30.7km, Climb: 1568m, Area: Spain, Canary Islands () ... Click here ...
Sorry if we didn't mention what you posted .. there's a list of all contributors for recent months later.
Green finished so far
Waymarked Ways. Doing them all!
A couple are doing all of the Waymarked Ways of Ireland (Well, those in the Republic.) Here are some statistics from their website "There are 42 trails, with a combined distance of around 4,000km. So far we've walked 35 trails, and over 3,000km."
They have very kindly agreed to write us an illustrated article about this achievement and we very definitely look forward to this in a future newsletter.
Their names are Ellie Berry and Carl Lange. (Ed: weird how news gets to us. I was at a science exhibition in London and an exhibitor told me she had seen MV and did I know of toughsoles ...)
On Saturday 8th September a number of Mountainviewers met at the An Baile Breac carpark at the foot of Mount Brandon with the intention of walking the Brandon Ridge from Conor Pass.
Unfortunately I had neglected to mention our plans to the Kerry weather gods so we were a wet and miserable bunch when we gathered
A change of plan was formulated with the majority of the group electing to tackle an ancient Pilgrim route from Ventry to Brandon known as Cosan na Naomh (Saints Road) but in reverse. Two members of the group being inveterate Summit Baggers were determined to tackle Mas an Tiompan despite the pouring rain and windy conditions. Stangely enough there were no volunteers to join them on this particular expedition.
Decorated stone near Masatiompan.
From An Baile Breac we set off, crossing Reenconnell which on a clear day is a wonderful place to admire the view of the Brandon ridge and the western end of the Dingle peninsula (but not on this occasion!) to Kilmalkedar church and graveyard.
From here we came across a hidden gem, Gallarus Castle which is a four storey tower house near Ballydavid and the more famous Gallarus Oratory.
Fuschia lined path to Gallarus Oratory
The trail then skirts around Lateeve to Ventry where warm chowder and cool pints were consumed in a local hostelry after 20 kms of walking in less than ideal conditions. We were joined by the two conquering heroes of Masss an Tiompan, who were rightfully proud of their achievement.
We all enjoyed the post walk social in Dick Macs, a Dingle institution and a meal in a local hotel.
Conditions had improved sufficiently the following day for three of us to make it to the summit of Mount Brandon without getting wet.
Fuschia lined path to Gallarus Oratory
One of the Crosses on the Saints Path to the summit of Mount Brandon from An Baile Breac.
Despite the weather the Moumtainviews walks are a great opportunity to meet up with other members and we can always live in hope of a fine sunny day for the next walk.
If you have any suggestions on where you would like the next walk to be, please contact Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is currently scheduled for Spring 2019
Volunteering for 2018: Strengthening the MountainViews Committee
Currently we have a number of officers on the committee such as chairperson, secretary etc. We
really could use some further committee members to achieve our strategic goals and spread the
For those taking an interest in the MV committee or indeed committees in general we
can also use some further "regular" committee members without a specific role. There
are many smaller quite finite projects that might suit regular members.
MountainViews is a great resource based on over 1300 people's contributions over 15 years. Great that is if you have heard of it. And that's where we could use some practical publicity help.
The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth
Quite apart from programmers, would you believe MV's progress can also use help from people who can really follow through on tasks like creating lists, checking stats, researching place names or geology. Whether on the committee or not we value such people's contributions.
Not strictly speaking part of the main committee but a position involved in finding and selecting interesting speakers and organising the three events we are running each year.
If you haven't signed, do so. The number who have signed has reached over 7400 as we write this but we need more.
As it says in the article you should also consider communicating with your TD or other public representatives.
Luggala, an area and a mountain in the Wicklow Mountains is a magnificent place to walk for a variety of reasons. It is a great day out for younger people and those looking for an interesting but not too hard experience. It is also a conduit to various higher summits in the area such as Luggala and Knocknacloghoge. If you look at the diagram you can see members’ shared tracks illustrating the usage made. These are some of the best hillwalks in Wicklow.
Some of the extensive usage by walkers of the area.
Following the death of Garech Browne, the former guardian of Luggala in March 2018 access to this area is threatened by the sale of the land.
Mountaineering Ireland has been working to secure continuing access to this land. Take a look at their news page which contains a proposal that the “State should purchase Luggala”, more precisely those parts of greatest interest to hillwalkers (partly shown on our map of shared tracks).
“The National Parks & Wildlife Service has recommended the purchase of 4,000 acres of the estate (excluding Luggala Lodge and its surroundings). This is an approach which Mountaineering Ireland is supportive of as the cliffs, the Cloghoge river valley and the mountain lands of Luggala and Knocknacloghoge are our main interests, and these should have a much lower market value than the entire estate.”
Their statement also links to an article in the Irish Times and an editorial in the same newspaper. The latter, while decrying the offensive approach being taken at Luggala, adds a somewhat general perspective saying:
“Nevertheless, Mountaineering Ireland’s call should spark a serious national conversation about public access to areas of great beauty and high nature value. Certainly, rights to reasonable privacy, and respect for working farms, need to be balanced with the right of access.”
(Any right thinking person can agree with this and MI certainly welcomed the editorial).
What can you do about this?
We live in a democracy. Get onto your local TDs, write to the Minister.
There is also a
Petition about Luggala.
We recommend that you sign this.
We have a few caveats. If signing such a petition only makes you feel good and believe that nothing further needs doing then you are missing the nature of representative democracy and how to influence it (e.g. TDs and Minister as above). We also have strong reservations about the vehicle in use “Change.org” which operates in a country without strong privacy rights and is seeking to monetise political campaigning. Don’t pay this group anything when they ask. Just sign the petition.
More positively we can tell you that the Irish promoter of the petition is a concerned individual living in Wicklow and not a front for some political party or pressure group. We applaud this person’s effort. Well done. We aren’t clear about the source of his/her figure for the Euro 1.2m proposed price however this is a detail that can be resolved later.
While we would dispute some of his premises and debate some conclusions he reaches, the author of the above is analytical, challenging and helps explain social media's growing effect on adventure activities. It's very good on looking at the impact of social media on attitudes. And will help us all reflect on choices of platforms even as seemingly mundane as a petition website.
-- Author: Simon Stewart.
Archaelogy you can visit.
Some Passage Tombs on Mountain Summits
by Tom Barragry
The megalithic passage tomb of Seefin is situated on the summit of a 622 m high mountain in North Wicklow. Nearby on the other summits - Seahan and Seefingan - and in clear view, are other cairns covering similar types of passage tombs. Seefin in fact is one of the four hills in the so called ‘Circuit of Kilbride’, taking in Seahan (648m), Corrig (618m), Seefingan (724m) and Seefin (622m). Corrig can be described as the poor relation of all of these summits as it is the only one without a passage tomb but it does command wonderful views over to Seefingan and Seefin and great views down over to Glenasmole. Glenasmole to the east, was a favourite hunting ground of the Fianna and Fionn McCumhaill’s Stone in Glenasmole was said to have been carried down from Corrig by Fionn himself.
Kilbride Rifle Range is an Army range on the Dublin/Wicklow border and it is nestled in a valley surrounded by Seefin, Seahan, Corrig and Seefingan. It has been claimed that on a clear day Newgrange can be seen from Seefin and that Seefin was deliberately built to be seen from Newgrange.
Seefin is approximately halfway between the Sally Gap and Manor Kilbride.The military rifle range at Kilbride lies to the north and care needs to be taken in reaching. MountainViews.ie shows various safe ways.
In Gaelic Mythology
Seefin or Sui Fionn, according to Gaelic mythology and Celtic legends, was the seat of Finn McCool (Fionn mac Cumhail) while Seefingin ( Sui Finnin) was the seat of his son Oisin. Fionn or Finn was the leading Irish warrior of Na Fianna who were his followers and who were the leading Gaelic tribe. The Fianna, led by Fionn, were known in all the early Irish mythological stories as great athletes, hunters, and especially, fighters. They were men living in the wilderness, outside the bounds of normal society, in close contact with the natural world, and by extension, with the spirit world. In 1858 the revolutionary Irish independence group known as the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) took on the name of “Fenians” a name derived from Fionn’s army
Many legends surround the life of Fionn. It is said that he attempted his own matchmaking by inviting large numbers of women to partake in a race up to the summit of Slieve na Mban in Tippreary, where he awaited the winner.
Allegedly Grainne was first up the mountain of Slieve na Mban, but because Fionn was much older than her, she eloped with his better looking, younger warrior Diarmaid. It is also said that Fionn built the Giant's Causeway as stepping stones to Ireland, and that the Isle of Man is a lump of Irish land which he hurled at an enemy !. As members of na Fianna, Fionn and his son Oisin roamed these hills around Seefin,until Oisin went with Niamh Cinn Oir over the sea to Tir na Nog. Oisin returned years later to Gleann na Smole. (It is thought that Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde story has its roots in this legend of Diarmuid agus Grainne althugh there are many other early European versions on the same theme).
The Passage Grave on Seefin
Approaching the summit of Seefin from the southerly direction, the huge cairn of large stones is readily visible and impressive to behold, but as one circles around it to the northside, the entrance pillars and lintel come into view showing the narrow passage entrance.
Seefin passage tomb is well preserved and is most impressive sitting on the high summit with a magnificent view, as far as the eye can see, of the low lying countryside below it..
Seefin megalithic tomb dates back to 3000- 5000 years BC and was only first investigated by RA McAllister in 1931. When he investigated it he recorded that he found no human remains there, neither artifacts nor other items of interest within the chamber. Accordingly it has always been speculated as to whether some early human remains had actually been removed from the tomb hundreds if not thousands of years ago, or whether the tomb is some kind of mysterious empty spectacular symbolic marker at the summit of a splendid panorama. It is certainly a very elaborate and precisely constructed tomb and it is indeed hard to believe that no one was ever buried there. So did Mc Alister miss something, had remains been removed hundreds of years earlier or was no one ever buried there? It seems more likely that it was a burial tomb ..... it had after all remained open for thousands of years and thus the remains of deceased persons could easily have be removed, or perhaps some artifacts stolen over that long time span.. One of the early roof stones had an etching of a Greek equal-armed cross cross and this would seem to corroborate the supposition that it was a burial place. Many such mysterious tombs on mountain summits exist all over Ireland, many in very close proximity to each other. They all seem to maintain some sort of geographical alignment, if not with each other, then more probably with astronomical events such as the solstice and equinox. Many of these passage tombs from Newgrange, Knowth Dowth, Seefin Seefingin, Seahan Fairy Castle, Slieve Gullion etc remain as enigmatic reminders of the rituals and practices in stone age Ireland - many of which we may never come to fully understand in true, authentic and accurate detail..
While the pyramids of Giza were built as spectacular tombs for kings and pharoahs, it would seem that the Irish passage tombs were more for some sort of communal activity. It would also seem that given the small space inside and the narrow entrance passage only a few people could enter to perform the final rituals, with most of the people remaining outside.
Given that Seefin is 1700 feet above sea level it was an astounding feat of labour and of engineering to carry the heavy materials up to the summit and construct with considerable precision such an elaborate edifice, some 3000 or even 5000 years ago. And an edifice that has survived over 3000 years without collapsing!. Perhaps the materials were not carried up insofar as there may have been an abundant supply of stone on the tops of these hills anyway. So why was it built and what purpose did it serve? One theory was that by placing the remains of one’s ancestors in these high cairns, immediate ownership was conferred on their descendants, of all the land that their deceased ancestors could see from their resting place on the summit.
Seefin tomb entrance. A test for modern man of slimness.
The entrance to the tomb itself is narrow with two large columnar side stones supporting a lintel. There are two stones at the entrance allegedly displaying some very faint concentric megalithic decoration, but it is extremely hard to see it now. The entrance consists of a very narrow 7 metres long passage way with large side slabs that runs inwards into 5 smaller cellular compartments. The largest central chamber (burial chamber?) has two small side chambers on each side and one situated at the rear. Overall, the covering stony cairn of the passage tomb is 24 metres in diameter and a little over 3 metres high.There are a number of kerbstones around the base defining the outer periphery. From a small collapsed part of the roof one an get a small narrow peep into the passageway.
At the summit there is a wonderful 360 degree vista showing the whole of south county Dublin, Kildare and a vast expanse of Wicklow.
Nearby Seefingan is the twin peak that is also crowned by a cairn of stones similar to Seefin. But while a little less dramatic, Seefingan is yet unexcavated. It lies a litle higher than Seefin by about 100m above sea level. Looking down from either of these summits the panorama is truly breathtaking with an uninterrupted view of the beautiful rolling hills, fields and a few lakes into the far distance. The surrounding countryside encompasses North & West Wicklow, South Dublin, and the passage tombs well visible on the distant summits. Of course care must be taken in this area as it lies adjacent to an active army firing range at Kilbride. This is a danger zone which is marked by red flags on active days. The views from Seefin are as good as you get. It's just stunning to look down upon the Poulaphuca Reservoir 450m below or across to Seefingan (and its passage tomb) Seahan Hill (County Dublin) and its passage tomb (Seefin passage is facing directly at this one) or over to Sorrel Hill & Lugnagun (County Wicklow).
Not too far away on the Dublin Mountains lies Fairy Castle. This stone cairn is a collapsed passage tomb. It sits at an altitude of 1,740 feet (536m) beside a trig pillar on Two Rock Mountain and is a major high landmark well visible from most parts of south county Dublin. The mountain takes its name from the two granite tors that lie to the south-east of the summit. The tomb is marked by the large collection of rocks forming a type of pyramid. The tomb underneath is believed to have had a height of about 3 metres and some of the original circle of stones are thought to still be in position. It dates to the Bronze Age between c.2500 bce and 2000 bce and is one of the highest, largest and easternmost in a series of such tombs that stretch across the Wicklow & Dublin Mountains. The large structure is 25m (82 feet) in circumference and the mound is 2m (6.6 ft) high made up of granite and quartz blocks. Much of it It is now covered by turf and vegetation and a boardwalk surrounds it. There is no evidence that the tomb has ever been opened but archaeologists believe that the interior contains a small burial chamber. From the summit of Fairy Castle there are extensive views taking in 6 counties (Wicklow, Dublin, Louth, Meath, Kildare and Down), and 3 countries (Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales). The entrance to the tomb once described as "The Cave" has also disappeared under the peat bog.
The open circular burial chamber
Tibradden Hill is home to a prehistoric chambered cairn that formerly was thought to be a passage tomb. The tomb at Tibradden looks like the remains of a passage tomb but in fact it is not. The visible remains consist of a passageway 5 metres in length opening into an open circular chamber. The open cairn measures 25 metres in diameter and is about a metre and a half high. On the open floor is an inscribed stone with spiral megalithic art.
The passage into the cairn and the chamber that are visible today, were first excavated in 1849 by members of the Royal Irish Academy. During this excavation two bronze age cist burials were found containing pottery and cremated remains.
Megalithic spiral art on floor of chamber
The main burial consisted of a food-vessel and cremated bones. It is now believed that the monument is a chambered cairn with a cist burial at the centre. The site may well be the burial place of Bródáin, after whom the mountain is named (Sliabh Thigh Bródáin’ meaning ‘mountain of the house of Bródáin’.) The monument is not at the summit of the mountain but is located slightly to the north at a position where the view across Dublin Bay to Howth is not obscured by Two Rock. When one stands within the open cairn chamber a beautiful and relatively well preserved piece of spiral rock art can be seen on the floor
The cairn itself is mainly intact rising s to a maximum of 1-2 m above ground level and is about 25m in diameter. The passage appears to have a very close summer solstice alignment. Conservation work done at the site in 1956 revealed that the chamber and passage were not in fact completely the original features but had possibly been created at the time of the original excavation sometime in the nineteenth century. The walls of the chamber rise to about 1.5m and offer a very welcome shelter from the howling winds that often whip up on the open expanse of Tibradden Mountain. A good place for a sandwich! The site became a national monument in 1940.
The ring dyke to the north of Slieve Gullion
The broad slopes of Slieve Gullion dominate the landscape of south Armagh, and the mountain itself lies at the centre of a pronounced ring of hills – the Ring of Gullion.
Both Slieve Gullion and the Ring of Gullion are testament to a much more violent early past in this region of Ireland, for they are both of volcanic origin. Both the mountain and its surrounding ring of hills are the remains of a volcano, now much eroded, that existed here over 60 million years ago.
Volcanoes are often surrounded by an encirclement of geological faults and fractures. These result from hot boiling magma or moltrn rock hitting the surface at at several points resulting in explosive eruptions and laval deposits which give rise to the resulting landscape features. Sixty million years ago, Ireland's share of molten lava roared and spewed out of volcanoes and entered a cooling down/ settling process in the surrounding area.
In some places however the deposited lava remained bubbling up in small aggregates which following interaction with local geological faults and fractures remained as plasmal protrusions above the surface. The townland around Slieve Gullion & Forkhill was the the epicentre of powerful volcanic activity, and Slieve Gullion is in fact the eroded heart of a volcano that was active in this area in South Co Armagh. This volcanic phenomenon resulted in the formation of a central mountain, Slieve Gullion, surrounded by a ring of smaller laval deposts and mountain formations.. This Ring of Gullion is called a “ring dyke system”. It is in fact an extinct central volcano with peripheral deposits and is the most spectacular example of a ring dyke to be seen anywhere in Ireland or Britain. Slieve Gullion’s ring dyke is 11 km in diameter.
The area in general was a major site of volcanic activity and volcanoes also erupted in the south of this landscape around Forkill. It is also believed that much of the stone dates back 390 million years! The volcano is linked to a time when the continents of Europe and America were joined together and began to move apart, creating the Atlantic Ocean and islands of Northern Europe. Early glaciation has also left its mark on the Gullion area and the landscape has been shaped also not only by the volcanoes but also by the action of glaciers during successive Ice Ages. Glaciers exploited existing volcanic weaknesses in the rocks and eroded deep valleys through the Ring of Gullion. The Camlough lake in the Ring of Gullion is a good example of a glacial ribbon lake.
Slieve Gullion is especially notable in Gaelic mythology, where it is associated with the many legends surrounding the early Irish heroes Fionn mac Cumhaill and Cú Chulainn. Slieve Gullion is said to be the exact place where the legendary hero Cú Chulainn (Cuhullin) first received his name and where he spent his childhood (Sliabh Cuilinn, "Culann's mountain")
The mountain also features in many legends playing host to witches, Ulster heroes and fleeing saints. It is the land of Táin Bó Cuailgne, Queen Medb, The Fianna, Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the old witch Calliagh Berra.
The summit ridge leads down to Calliagh Berra's Lough (“Hags’s lake”/ “the lake of the curse”). She was the enchantress who lured Fionn into the lake to search for her ring. When he emerged from the lake, she had disappeared, but Fionn was a wizened white haired old man.. His friends dug into the cairn on Slieve Gullion to find the Calliagh Berra, the witch who caused the enchantment. She restored Fionn, but his former head of red hair remained white. This is said to be the origin of his name, Fionn, meaning fair or 'white'.
Furher across in the ring of Gullion lies Camlough Lake which was formed as a glacial ribbon lake,.The glacial left-over sits in a valley carved between Slieve Gullion and Camlough Mountain and is today the largest lake in the Ring of Gullion
The Mountain and Passage Tomb
The mountain itself is at the heart of the Ring of Gullion and is the highest point in the county, with an elevation of 573 metres (1,880ft). Slieve Gullion Forest Park is on its eastern slope At the plateau summit of Slieve Gullion is a small lake and two ancient burial cairns, one of which is the highest surviving passage grave in Ireland.
The Passage Tomb of Slieve Gullion is situated on the summit of the southern end of the mountain ridge. As the the highest passage tomb in Ulster it commands breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside. The spectacular tomb consists of a large circular cairn some 30m in diameter and up to 5m high, with a supporting kerb of massive, but undecorated, stones around the perimeter. On the south-west face of the summit cairn is the entrance to a short, lintelled, passage which leads to the octagonal chamber.
A.E.P Collins in 1963 states:-
“ The passage tomb follows the normal rule of siting on a local summit. The cairn diameter of 97 ft. lies well within the range from 280 ft. at Dowth to 33 ft. at Loughcrew V. The cairn height of 16 ft. is rather low : But expressed as a ratio of its diameter it is as 1:6, the same as at New Grange” !!
The earliest literary reference to the passage-grave cairn is contained in the Harris Manuscripts of 1739. This is of interest in calling attention to a kind of 'porch' outside the entrance to the passage. The first investigation of Slieve Gullion Passage Tomb dates to 1789,( described by Charlotte Brooke in Reliques of Irish Poetry, 1789, 70-1) and records the entry of local peasants (so-called) into the chamber with the discovery of 'only a few human bones' inside. Fairly extensive clearance of stones and other debris from the chamber in 1906 was carried out by the County Louth Archaeological Society.
Hags Lake /Calliagh Berra's Lough on Slieve Gullion Summit
Further excavation in 1961 revealed that the chamber had previously been enetered, if not ransacked, on a number of occasions, and the only notable finds in 1961 were a few pieces of flint, a scraper and an arrowhead. Three stone basins were also found with shallow depressions hammered into their natural shapes. Radiocarbon dating from the tomb's excavation suggested its construction dated from c. 3500-2900 BC. During these excavations a round cairn, not a passage tomb, on the northern end of the summit ridge was investigated, revealing two small stone-built coffin-like boxes (cists) used to hold the bodies of the dead, together with some fragments of distinctive Early Bronze Age pottery. This smaller cairn, to the north of the Hag’s Lake, is of later, perhaps Bronze Age construction.
Two hundred years after the passage tomb at the summit of Slieve Gullion was ransacked by treasure-seekers, the cairn was further disturbed by American soldiers training there during the Second World War. Foxholes were dug into the passage tomb and into the smaller cairn at the north end of the lake.
Like all passage tombs questions arise over the mystery of their alignment. Like at the larger Dowth Passage Tomb in the Boyne Valley, the setting sun around the time of the Winter Solstice illuminates the chamber of the passage tomb on Slieve Gullion. Thus the entrance to the tomb is flooded with the evening light of the winter solstice. Also of interest is its relationship to the cairns at Loughcrew in west Co Meath. The cairns at Loughcrew face towards Newgrange, and Slieve Gullion appears to be aligned with Loughcrew thus indicating some intended connection between the three.
Winter Solstice rays of evening light from the setting sun entering the passage of the cairn on Slieve Gullion.
Extract from The Slieve Gullion Cairns (1963) by A. E. P. Collins and B. C.
S. Wilson :-
“Slieve Gullion has long been famed for the large
passage-grave cairn sited on its southern summit. Although damaged, enough is preserved
of both passage and chamber for it to be clear that both in size and in building
technique it is one of the major passage-graves of Ireland. It was thus felt that
excavation was necessary both to search for evidence of funerary deposits and to reveal
as much as possible of its construction, so that an adequate record could be included in
the County Armagh Survey. And while equipment and labour were assembled for this task it
seemed wise to undertake the excavation of the smaller round cairn on the northern
Special difficulties were foreseen in working on so lofty
and exposed a hilltop and it was decided to try to overcome these by the use of student
labour encamped on the mountain. A camp was therefore established on the northern end of
the mountain about 600 ft, below summit level and some thirty students from the
Archaeology and Geography Departments of Queen's University had their first experience
of a training excavation during the period June 17th — July 20th, 1961.The
main features of the monument may be summarised as follows : the passage-grave,
dry-walled and with lintel-roofed passage and corbelled chamber, lacks side chambers but
possesses an end-chamber opposite the passage. The passage is 15 ft. long and begins
some 10 ft. from the nearest point on the cairn kerb. The intervening space, now
occupied by some half dozen fallen and two erect stone slabs, is presumably the site of
the funnel shaped 'porch' described by Harris in
"The Cairn on Slieve Gullion." Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society 5.3 (1923): 165. Extracted from Statistical Survey of Co. Armagh, by Sir Charles Coote, 1804.
The Slieve Gullion Cairns
Author(s): A. E. P. Collins and B. C. S. Wilson
Source: Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Third Series, Vol. 26 (1963), pp. 19-40Published by: Ulster Archaeological Society
The Slieve Gullion Passage-Grave Cairn
Author(s): A. E. P. CollinsSource: Seanchas Ardmhacha: Journal of the Armagh Diocesan Historical Society, Vol. 5,No. 1 (1969), pp. 179-182
Prendergast, F. (2011) ''The Loughcrew Hills and Passage Tomb Complex''. Stefanini, B. & Glynn, G.M. (Eds.) Field Guide No. 29 -
North Meath. Irish Quaternary Association. pp 42 -54.
The MountainViews ANNUAL, 2018.
We published our third annual in Feb 2018
58 pages in 17 Articles about walking on hills, mountains and islands here and abroad.
The end of September saw The Ballyvaughan Fanore Walking Club once again saw a very successful Hillwalking Festival (seeing some lovely weather too) over two days with a choice of great Walking and an evening dinner and Talk with Presentation on the Burren. Here is a true example of the great work behind the scenes of liaising with local land owners so as to allow for access to a wonderful part of the Burren in a measured manner.
So rolling on into October, Calendar dates won't start up again in earnest until March next year . . . but don't let this be any excuse not to get out and about and dirty!!
The 13th October sees Hillwalking Club with a Challenge slant on Life, Love and Altitude, Na Sléibhte - celebrate their first year of Hillwalking with a return to where they began, with a Walk in the Galtees. They have invited would-be members and friends on this date, so interested parties can find details on their FB page, leaving as we've previously exclaimed, no excuses for sitting at home at the weekends!
September just gone also saw the second Highwayman Challenge (which is now confirmed as an annual event, Hoorah).
So now, "Tell me this and tell me no more . . ."
Can you remember back to when you were a young boy or girl and when you were out with your Mommy and saw a great big dirty puddle?? Well, what happened next??
Yeah, that's right - you took a running jump into it!! Way hey!!
Good clean Family Fun.
Such was this year's Highwayman Challenge once again, as what seemed like a hundred brightly coloured wellies as worn by a gang-load of incredibly enthusiastic young children all tore off at a rate of knots on the "C" Walk. As all their high-vis colours dazzled off into the Wilds, there would not be a single utterance of complaint. No Way! This was pure, honest excitement to be out celebrating a Free-Range Hillwalk!!
It was "Multi Coloured Swap Shop" (Google it!) at the summit of Knockshanahullion where it must have felt like the top of the world to little legs.
The "B" Walk too was not to be found wanting in eager enthusiasm . . . and all this despite inclement weather! Packing a punch of a good 15km, this Walk had a generous compliment of the areas scouting fraternity. Here too could be seen a nurtured appreciation of the outdoors. Now when you consider that it would be a whole lot easier for these troops to stay at home and play XBox or PlayStation . . . Do not let anyone tell you that Challenge Walking is a given evil, which is contributing to ongoing erosion. Not when Type2 diabetes is on the rise and recent health reports are starting to suggest that we could be the first generation to outlive our own children!
No. This is Free-Range Ireland at its best, as was celebrated in a glorious patch of the Galtees. The ever so rare (and highly sought after) lesser-spotted BleckCra was said to be in fine oration too, on the "B" Walk . . . but this is one of those muses "where citation is needed".
The "Best of the Best (with honours)" were to be found attacking the "A" Walk with gusto, where the bracing wind and rain tried in vain to dampen spirits - but that was never going to happen! Over the course of near on 30km - the day would break to allow for a pleasant second half. Legend in his own lunchtime and local historian (and hero of our times) Jackill, recounted the times and tribulations of the Highwayman trails that crossed the Galtees, allowing characters of old, such as Willie Brennan to scourge the old coach routes.
Cracking a stern whip and leaving the participants on the Challenge Walk under no illusions (Jackill, not Willie Brennan!), his now annual command, dictated once more . . . "we want you to experience the full misery of a challenge walk . . . no, we're not stopping . . . eat while you're moving"
With three Walks to choose from, Araglin Parents Association comes out in force to host the perfect introduction to Challenge Walking in Ireland. And back safe and sound and enjoining stew and apple pie, all parties from the three Walks trickle home and recant their day's adventure. Everything from herding stray cows to trying to chase down fast "strays" was recounted. This is new to many! Yet one can start to hear the new found interest in gear and clothing . . . "Look for a Vibram sole first, it won't let you down. . ."
"If you get yourself sprung walking poles they'll help prevent Tennis Elbow" (what! We're swinging rackets now??).
So it is on days like these where MountainViews Legends Jackill and BleckCra (citation needed) can be found with the future of Challenge Hillwalking in Ireland!! (That last part is Q.E.D.)
Support your local Challenge Walk.
Go make a Big Splash in a puddle near you!
Onwards and Upwards Boys and Girls,
Keep Safe over the Winter months and Enjoy your Day!
SUMMITEERS and PLACE-VISITORS CORNER
A place for those interested in Summiteering, Bagging, Highpointing, visiting islands and coastal places.
About to complete the Vandeleur-Lynams in record time.
Hail the 10th finisher of the Vandeleur Lynams
As we near publication of this newsletter, it is likely that James Forrest, self-styled Adventurer & Writer from the neighbouring island will have completed visiting the 273 Vandeleur-Lynam summits in around two months.
He does have form as evidenced on his website: "In 2015 I walked all 214 'Wainwrights' in the Lake District. In 2016 I quit my job to go hiking in Australasia. And in 2017 I set a new record by climbing all 446 mountains in England and Wales in just 6 months - the fastest ever time."
Obviously this fantastic effort like Simon Byrne's magnificent completion in 2014 of the VLs + Arderins in under a year is a semi-professional or full-time achievement.
Simon Byrne repaid the community handsomely by meticulously uploading the 101 trips he made to complete the challenge to MV and I am glad to say that James has systematically collected information and also promises to document through an article and more.
He hasn't had much time for formal correspondence, but he did say the following in an email " .. How I did it - really I just used a few tactics including a) doing multi-day routes with wild camping and b) doing linear routes and hitchhiking back to my car. Oh, and just plodding along for many hours each day!
Final summit - not too sure yet, but likely to be either in the Dunkerrons or NW Inveragh. ..."
Link to James's website which has further links to facebook, twitter and instagram (for those that don't mind payment by personal details)
Ed: As you can see we are delighted to celebrate the achievement above. However most people take on the larger lists as amateur life time challenges. I for one continue to be proud of completing the Vandeleur Lynams in 47 years.
A Guide to Ireland's Mountain Summits - The Vandeleur-Lynams & The Arderins
MountainViews first book available online and in some bookshops. The first reprint with numerous minor amendments is available.
simon3 on A Guide to Irelands Mountain Summits
MountainViews first book available online and in many bookshops.
As members will know, for over a decade, Mountainviews.ie has been providing unique information to hillwalkers on all aspects of exploring and enjoying Ireland's upland areas. It's been a collaborative effort by over 1000 of you, and currently contains over 6000 comments on 1057 mountains and hills on the island of Ireland ... ... Click here ...
Bulk sales to groups such as Scouts/ Guides: contact email@example.com for a discounted price.
Kudos to our contributors.
We welcome the following new members who enrolled this month.
a0c, allezberry, andrewh84, Atlanticstar, Bigtone9691, BrianM14, cara, carmelhennessy, CelticWave, Dan2010, derdeutscher, dickvaughan, dubdamian, dympna, Eamonconnolly, Eamonn777, Eddie2, elyodyram, Evankillian13789, freight08, geordie, graemedundee, HydroxWolf, jjbireland700s, Joanie, JohnWick, John_Finn, Kevinocallaghangeo, Kylemcloghan, Kyte, Lonerambler, Marck, Mark1975, martinf090574, MaximiliusMus, Maydayjap, mfh94610, Mike70, Murphy81, Patriciaduffy, PaulaMelvin, pegatron, philmchale, plaus, Power726, Renegade13, rollingwave, Ruddy-Boots, skmcd, Smudgy, tcmcgee, therealcrow, tomtermite, Tom_Lyons, toomanyhills, VanLowe, Wegwalker, Wevil11 (58)
MountainViews now has 8837 comments about 1663 different hills, mountains, island and coastal features out of the total in our current full list (2159). We want to get a good gps track showing each of the major ways to visit each of these places and summits in Ireland. If you see an option to add a "Short Summary" then do please consider creating one since another objective is to have a short summary for every summit and island and coastal feature in Ireland. There's quite a few (496) opportunities for you to be the first to comment on a place, not so many on summits, however lots of opportunities for islands and coastal features as we bring them out. We also have around 2000 shared GPS tracks, mostly in Ireland. Apart from a few popular areas, there is a need for more routes in many different areas. Plain shared tracks without descriptions are welcome however if you have time then do please add route descriptions with photos.
If you are contributing, please be careful to respect the interests of landowners.
Suggest access routes well away from houses, gardens or that could conceivably impact farming activities. When walking, keep away from gardens or farm buildings. Use stiles or gates wherever possible. Never do anything that could allow animals to roam where the farmer did not intend. Ask permission where appropriate.
Take care if parking and do not obstruct roads, lanes and field entrances to access by farm machinery, which can be large. Exercise your dog in parks or forests but avoid countryside or open hillside where they may worry sheep.
Report suspicious activity to the police forces, as below.
If your car is broken into in an upland area report it to the PSNI or Gardai as this will help them be aware of the issue and tackle it in future. Store the numbers. In Northern Ireland use the PSNI non-emergency number 0845 600 8000. In the Republic you can find the local Garda District HQs phone numbers at www.garda.ie/Stations/Default.aspx. Specifically for the hotspot of Wicklow: the Garda Divisional Headquarters in Bray is 01 6665300.
If you hear of a problem area or route, write it up in MountainViews
which does everyone a service.
Report rubbish tipping in the Republic - ring EPA hotline 1850 365 121
Report recreational quads in national park area (in which they are banned). They are also banned in the Mournes. For Wicklow please phone the Duty Ranger: 087-9803899 or the office during office hours Telephone: +353-404-45800. For the Mournes ring the PSNI (as above) or contact Mournes Heritage Trust. Put these numbers in your phone, take regs etc. Let MV know of contact numbers for other areas.
If you have visited some of the less well known places, we would appreciate a place rating and also "Improve Grid Ref" for summits and other places.
If you find errors in the basic information about places such as in their names, their heights, county name etc please use the "Propose Places Database Change" option.
If we can, let's make MV have more than one route up a summit or to a place so as to reduce the tendency for paths to appear. Your grid refs in comments for different starting points show up on MountainViews maps as well as shared GPS tracks.
Visit the MountainViews Facebook page.
Visit the Challenge Walks Ireland page (jointly managed by MountainViews)
Editor: Simon Stewart, Homepage:
Assistant editors: Colin Murphy, David Owens
Summit comment reviews: David Murphy
Challenge Info: Jim Holmes
Track reviews: Peter Walker
Book reviews: Aidan Dillon, Peter Walker, Mel O'Hara
Videography: Peter Walker
Graphics design advice: madfrankie
Development & support volunteers: Vanush "Misha" Paturyan, Jack Higgins, Piotr Stepien