John McCullagh March 14, 2005
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Tourist Guide to

South Armagh , Newry and South Down

Among the many outstanding features of our beautiful region of Ireland are the rugged mountains, the rivers and lakes, the fast-expanding city and the coastal strip and resorts where ‘the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea’. We have every reason for pride. We will here look in turn at all of these features and trust that our uniqueness is sufficient to entice the foreign visitor (and perhaps the lonely exile) to renew his acquaintance with our friendly shores. We trust that the slideshows that accompany this writing adequately illustrate our best features.

I am certain that no one reared in South Armagh can ever again feel fully content in his soul, living far from the comforting embrace of the Ring of Gullion that in youth defined his natural horizons. Speaking as one who only ever spent some months away, I can testify to a quickening pulse when on approach, that familiar mountain outline of home comes into view. How much more intense this natural reaction must be for the returned exile, I can only guess. Let us, on his behalf and in the mind’s eye, approach Newry successively from different directions.


Climbing north from the Boyne Valley , the weary road or rail traveller cannot fail to be impressed as first in the distance, the wild, dark, natural beauty of the Carlingford gabbro massif comes into view. Before long, whatever his vehicle, he is treading his way through the Gap of the North, celebrated in Celtic history and legend. Soon he is in the gap through the Carrickarnon Hill that defines the south east boundary of the world-famous ring dyke of Gullion.

The driver must keep his eyes on the road for this section is one of Ireland ‘s most dangerous. The rail passenger has time to enjoy, to his right (assuming he is facing the train’s engine at the front) the Fathom Mountain , which as we will see shortly has a unique origin even within this remarkable area. As he hurtles along, he must keep his eyes peeled, for the stunning treasures of nature are revealed in fast succession. Leaving Fathom behind, an amazing vista opens up: hundreds of feet below him lies the Valley of the Kings (the translation of Clanrye {or, in the original Irish, Glan Ri.

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