Cornamucklagh via Fathom Woods to Fathom Pass
Parking at Cornamucklagh House (Davy's Pub). Facing is a small road that runs down to the lough opposite Narrowwater Keep. Halfway down we turn right into the Ferry Wood to the site of a monastery wiped out by the Vikings in 841. It was later used as a cillin, a burial place for unbaptised children. Back out and across the road, we follow a track which joins the line of the old Greenore railway, between the Newry Road and the water. We cross the Owencoggery which forms the border, cross the main road into Fathom Wood where we follow the stream (waterfalls) up to and across the Ferryhill road. We then follow it again on the southern side around the foot of Anglesea mountain to the saddle with views of Slieve Gullion. Back into the north and back to Davy's by Larry Tam's Loanan. Stories of Redcoats, poets and highwaymen. 3 hours and a bit.
Monastery site/cillin, Ferry Wood
Extract from the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, 1854
(Available Newry Library)
The following article is a faithful translation of a Latin tract, which is preserved, among other treasures of Irish literature, in the Burgundian Library at Brussels... The tract is without a date; but it appears from internal evidence to have been written shortly after 1643...The author, Father Edmund McCann, a Franciscan Friar, was manifestly a diligent and single-minded inquirer ...
"On the banks of the river of Lake Lir, now known by the natives as Loch Carling, opposite the territory called Iveagh, stood the monastery of Kill-Snabha, which was celebrated in former times for having three hundred monks, who day and night uninterruptedly employed themselves in the praises of God, but which was at last desolated by heathen pirates, and all its three hundred inmates slain, with the exception of the abbot, who happened at the time to be absent in the region of Ui-meth [Omeath]. It was founded by the munificence of the Lords of Oregellia [Oriel]. At the present day it is barely in the recollection of man, so great, (with sorrow be it said), is the forgetfulness of ancient works. Right opposite to this once celebrated monastery has been erected a Castle, which is commonly called the Castle of Caol [Narrowwater] in Irish."
Fr Lawrence Murray (Lorcan O Muiri) dates the wipe-out to 841 AD in his History of Omeath (Louth Archaeological and Historical Journal, Vol. III, No. 3, 1914. pp. 213-231, in Dundalk Library). Fr McCann is probably a bit over the top with his 300 monks - this was most likely a small hermit monk offshoot from Killeavy.
The Newry-Greenore railway closed in 1953. The stream which forms the border is referred to in documents from 1612 as the Owencoggery.
Larry Tam's (or McAllisters') Loanan which runs from the middle of Flagstaff hill on the Ferryhill road to Clontigora Hill. This was once an important pilgrim route to the grave of St Patrick, by Narrowwater Ferry, Burren, Mayobridge and Eight-Mile Bridge (now (HIlltown) to Downpatrick. Even though the loanan has been badly eroded by water it is clear that there was once a well-stoned road base. Elsewhere, pilgrims actually built such roads through difficult territory as a sort of penance. A walled section of the road can still be seen in Fathom Wood. The route is practically a straight line from Carrickarnon to Narrowwater.
It was the main road to the ferry until the current Ferryhill Road was built by the main Omeath landlord, the Earl of Anglesea, around 1780 along with the New Line from Cornamucklagh Cross down to Davy's. The attachment Omeath Map below shows a sketch map from 1670 and a better drawn Taylor & Skinner map from about 1771. Both indicate (top left corner) that the road up from Cornamucklagh took a sharp turn left (or west) just over the townland border in Fathom, which fits exactly with the position of the loanan.
The redcoats of Johnston of the Fews probably marched along this road around 1750 to arrest the poet and rapparee Seamas Mor Mac Murchaidh at the shebeen of Patsy McDacker and take him to Armagh for hanging. It was thought the shebeen was on this road but very recent local information locates it very precisely - at the first house (Matthews) on the Upper Fathom Road coming in from the Flagstaff end. The shebeen was in the shed with its gable to the road and there is one small, low original window. More on the outlaw poet in the second attachment below - Creggan Outlaw.
Badger's Pad from Carlingford
Parking at the Castle (right at the Marina). The path leads up towards Slieve Foye from close to the car park and heads north, staying below the treeline with great views of the lough (see dotted black line on map) . Two ring forts along the way. Close to the Foye Forest car park we turn briefly uphill and walk back to Carlingford by the forestry road (dotted red line). Interesting but relatively easy walk, mostly fairly flat. 3 hours max. Click for map:
Carlingford by Barnavave to Grange Irish
From Market Square up Savage's Hill and the Tain Trail to the saddle, watching out for ancient booleying sites above and below the track. According to local legend Barnavave ( Maeve's Gap) is the way the Connacht army came looking for the Brown Bull of Cooley. Below it near Grange Irish there are the remains of a settlement known as the Famine Village but certainly much older with a sweathouse (early Irish sauna) and a very early passage tomb now stripped of its stone mound. Walk can be extended further into Grange Irish where there are numerous ringforts and a full-scale megalithic tomb. Great views of the Mournes. Back to Carlingford by road. 3 hours and a bit. Click for map:
Cadgers' Pad - Tullaghomeath to Annaverna
Local tradition has it that the herring girls of Omeath carried creels of herrings on their back over the mountain to meet fishmongers from Dundalk at Ravensdale (does anyone know why the fishermen didn't just put them in a boat and sail to Dundalk?). Parking at Clermontpass Bridge on the New Line, just past the Omeath end of the Turn Road. Follow the left side of the Hyland or Essmore river for about a kilometer until a clear sunken zigzag track heads for the mountain. At a certain point the track fades and it is time to head to the left through the heather at about the 350-meter contour. The track emerges again as we head into the saddle between Black Mountain (464 meters) on the right and an unnamed summit (421 meters) on the left. In the saddle we cross the main track from Clermont Cairn towards Carnawaddy. The track towards Clermont is known by hillwalkers as Coronary Hill but relax, we're not going that way. Straight through the saddle and veer right for the main track that runs down to Annaverna gate.
The broad river valley of Tullagh that runs up towards the Mast was the main booleying site for Omeath. Before ditches were built on landlord instructions, the open field (rundale) system required the removal of animals while crops were growing, so they were driven into the mountains where
And the big one
Donard from Newcastle. Up along