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The Mourne Mountains.


'beanna boirch'

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Mourne Mountains

Mourne mountains in Down. The ancient name was Beanna Boirche [Banna-Borka], F. M., the peaks of the shepherd Boirche, who herded on these mountains the cattle of Ross, king of Ulster in the third century. About the middle of the twelfth century, a tribe of the Mac Mahons from Cremorne (see Cremorne), settled in the south of the present county of Down, and gave their tribe name of Mughdhorna [Mourna], to the barony of Mourne, and to the Mourne mountains.

The Mourne Mountains occupy the south eastern corner of County Down between Newcastle and Rostrevor their granite peaks cover an area of 80 square miles, the highest peak Slieve Donard rises to a height of 2796 ft (852 Meter's) there are ten other mountains above 2000 ft (610 meter's) The present name is said to have originated in the 12th century when a tribe of the Oirghialla, from Cremourne in County Monaghan, migrated into south County Down.

There is only one road through the mountains, it leaves the coast at Kilkeel and rises to a height of 1200 ft (366 meter's) just above the Spelga dam (The source of the river Bann) Taking the right fork in the road here will bring you to Bryansford and thence to Newcastle while going left you will descend down the steep Spelga pass to Hilltown

A complete circuit of the Mourne's Newcastle - Annalong - Kilkeel - Rostrevor - Hilltown - Castlewellan and back to Newcastle this amounts to about 60 miles. The only way to explore the heart of the Mourne's is on foot, on tracks with romantic names such as The Brandy Pad once used by smugglers, the Black Stairs and the Trassey Track the latter used by quarry men who wrested a hard won living quarrying the granite, some of which was carried by local Mourne Schooners and Ketches to pave the streets of English towns.




The Silent Valley.

The Silent Valley is said to have derived its name from when construction of the dam began in 1904 the birds left the valley because of the disturbance. Most of the materials for the dam were brought to the site on a purpose built narrow gauge railway from the village of Annalong on the coast. A second dam Ben Crom was built in 1957 it is 230 yds (210M) across and 155 ft (42.25M) high. The catchment area of both dam's which amounts to an area of 9000 acres is enclosed by the Mourne Wall which was built between 1904-1922 is 22 miles long and approximately 8 feet (2.44 M) high it connects the summits of 15 mountains. Spare a thought for the men who built this wall, walking from their homes to the heart of the Mountains in all weather each morning and home again in the evening. The annual Mourne Wall Walk takes place in the summer and attracts walkers for far and wide.

The water is carried to Belfast in a tunnel which passes through Slieve Binnian it then travels in pipes which generally follow the coast along the lower slopes of the mountains emerging near the village of Bryansford north of Newcastle. Work on this tunnel was begun at either end, when the two gangs met they were only inches out of alignment.

More about The Silent Valley.

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Walks in the Mourne's.
Hare's Gap
4 Miles to a high point of 1410 ft
Slieve Binnian
7 Miles to the peak of Binnian 2249 ft
Glen River
5.5 Miles to summit of Slieve Donard. 2976 ft