Carlingford of mid-18th century


When they thought it safe to journey through Ireland (i.e. when the ‘natives’ were sufficiently subjugated) various English gentlemen-of-leisure ventured to the smaller island, to give account, in books, diaries and journals, of the new countryside they had explored and the valiant efforts of their fellow-countrymen to bring civilisation to the savages. 

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Kilnasaggart Stone

As you know, the Kilnasaggart Stone is the oldest inscribed Christian Standing Stone in Ireland.  That of course is less than half the story.
We have no direct evidence of its antiquity for stone is not subject to radio-carbon dating or any of the other scientific methods recently developed.  Some scholars ascribe to ancient Celtic Ogham script the diagonal slashes to be found at the back and near the base of the stone. 

The legend inscribed on its front (in Latin, or a mix of Gaelic and Latin) ‘this place Ternoc son of Ciaran the Little, assigned to the keeping of the Apostle Peter’ sets the inscription itself to the second decade of the eighth century of the Christian calendar.   There is a distinct air of exorcism about the over-adornment of the stone with crosses and a similarity of the stone to the Long Stone nearby at Ballard and many others in the vicinity and indeed still to be found scattered in remote districts all over Ireland (Ta to John Macan, Oz, for his Guestbook elucidation!).  Many of these, including Kilnasaggart, have a distinct phallic appearance and were probably pagan or druidic fertility symbols.  This makes it some millennia in situ.

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Boots for Walking

You’ll have read of our search for the Calliagh Berra and the offer to join us on the next expedition.  Good news.  It begins tomorrow Friday 1 October at midday, starting from the Slieve Gullion Courtyard, Meigh.
In fact it is part of the inaugural South Armagh Walking Festival.  We are delighted to learn of this.  There is no better way to enjoy the great beauty of South Armagh than from the vantage point of its hills and mountains.  As usual I have much praise to offer, along with a few reservations.  The latter first, to get them out of the way!
Why in October, for heaven’s sake?  The tourist season has ended in the whole Northern hemisphere!  We were fortunate to meet with – and commandeer onto our trek! – the last two Dutch tourists last week on Slieve Gullion.  Walking tours are big business with cultural and sports-minded visitors, especially from other European countries.  Please repeat this next year in July/August.  
Walking tours offered are Grades 1-3, one being about 18km over the higher peaks and three, about 8km and mainly in the valleys.  On the main day, Saturday 2 October there is no Grade 2 (about my level).
The early advertising of this wonderful event ought to have begun two months ago.  I’d have extolled it on this website and people could have coordinated their visit home to suit.  Remember for the future.
The wonderful Anthony Cranney is the principal organiser and guide.  Watch out!  He sets a cracking pace. Sadly for us Anthony has accepted promotion to the NI Tourist Board and we’re about to lose his skills locally.
Now the positive!  Seven varied walks/climbs are offered over three days.  Despite my state of advanced decrepitude I am determined to try Saturday’s trek from Flagstaff Hill along the ridges to Slieve Foye’s top and down into Carlingford.  If you think of the equivalent shore road, you’ll have some idea of the challenge across the peaks.
Others on the same day will do the double of Slieve Gullion and Camlough Mountains.  The more relaxed will settle for Ballymoyer outside Whitecross.
All Sunday’s trails are Grade 2.  The canal towpath walk is flat, easy and most pleasant.  For the more adventurous, there is the Mullaghbawn Lappin walk over Glendesha, Crosslieve (locally known as Creesla), Glen Dhu, Carrickinaffrin, Thieve Crom, Urney and Dromintee. 
I’m drawn towards this, but don’t want to miss the Ravensdale walk either.  Maybe I’ll be fit for neither after Saturday. 
The craic’s in Forkhill’s Welcome Inn on Friday:  Quinns Bar, Camlough on Saturday night.
Hope to meet you all there!