Sometime before my first trip to Ireland back in 2011, I remember stumbling upon Celtic Thunder’s version of “Mountains of Mourne.” Like many other songs, the words captured my imagination and even inspired my senior quote in high school. I became overjoyed, then, when our tour guide told us we’d skirt them on our way south from Belfast, quoting the song with a grin in my direction.
Unfortunately, we did exactly that – we skirted the mountains, avoiding the more scenic routes in order to make good time. So when my mother and I visited again this summer, we made a point to see the Mournes up close.
Situated in County Down, the granite mountain range provides beautiful views of both the sea and forest protected by The National Trust. Many hiking trails exist, some gentle enough for a relaxed afternoon stroll versus a more grueling endeavor. Its tallest peak, Slieve Donard, stands at 850 meters (2,789 feet), making it the tallest point in Northern Ireland and the 19th highest peak on the island.
The Mournes have also served as inspiration for writers for centuries, ranging from Percy French’s song to the well known Narnia series by CS Lewis.
With time getting away from my mother and me on our second visit, we ended up taking the costal route rather than a road through the mountains themselves. Shortly after leaving Ballynoe for our bed and breakfast in Carlingford, we found ourselves sandwiched between the Irish Sea to the left and the mountains to the right. Even when the sea gave way to Carlingford Lough, the mountains remained, dominating the landscape as we drove around their base.
And looking across the lough, at the southern arm of the mountain range, it was impossible to conjure any description better than that first penned so many years ago.
Additional Links & Resources:
The Golden Book: Ireland, pages 123-124