Slieve Gullion - Sliabh gCuillinn - The Mountain of Holly
It had been believed that Slieve Gullion was named after 'Sliabh Chulainn - Culan's Mountain' - Culan being the smith/armourer to king Conor Mac Nessa and from whom Cú Chulainn (Setanta) gained his name following the slaying by the same Setanta of Culan's prize hound. The earliest mention we have of Slieve Gullion is dated to 965 AD, from Ó Céitinn's History of Ireland, and mentions 'sliab Cuillinn'.
Like all myths and wishful thinking, probably not so - although it is fair to conjecture that said legend and tales very well took place around the mountain's slopes. The abundance of holly on the mountain probably points to the origin of its name. Certainly the tales of the Red Branch Knights and Fionn Mac Cumhaill have their connection more firmly grounded in local topography.
The story of Fionn chasing the deer that turned into the 'Cailleach Beara' at the lake at the top of the mountain, that had to be dug out of the 'cave' at the mountain top sets Slieve Gullion as one of the classic mountains in Irish folklore. The lake and the 'cave' - the passage grave - are still there.
The cairn on the summit contains the passage grave - of simlar construction and date to that of Newgrange. To the north is a similar grave and in between the lake - a glacial corry scooped out of the mountain top by glaciers millennia ago. Due to the legend of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the Cailleach Beara some people are still afraid to dip a toe in the lake for fear their hair goes grey.
The townland itself runs from halfway up the mountain road, which runs from the Three Steps Pub up the mountain, and takes in a sweep of land which would have been well populated at one stage. The last family to live up at the highest point of the townland - a good 'semi-vertical' mile from the main road - were the Hagans.