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Spectacular Gullion walk is steeped in ancient folklore

By Linda McKee

Published 13/02/2009

Tranquil: Urney Graveyard path
Tranquil: Urney Graveyard path

The Ring of Gullion waymarked way travels off-road trails, quiet country lanes and forest tracks, setting off from the urban setting of the Quays Shopping Centre in Newry to explore the volcanic landscape of the Ring of Gullion Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Along its route ancient monuments and quiet villages can be discovered before the walker eventually reaches Derrymore House near Bessbrook.

You don’t have to walk the entire 57.5 km route — it can be enjoyed in sections and offers the walker a chance to explore exceptional countryside rich in geology, archaeology, wildlife and folklore.

With stunning views throughout, it traverses typical mountain habitats of dry gorse heathlands, blanket bogs and forests.


The Carrickdale Hotel is located five miles north of Dundalk and four miles south of Newry, Co Down, along the N1.

At the car park, turn right. A tunnel at the Carrickdale Hotel aids crossing the busy Dublin to Newry Road (A1). Continue uphill to the village of Jonesborough.

Follow the Kilnasaggart Road for approximately 2km where a detour can be made to visit the Kilnasaggart Pillar Stone and Moyry Castle. The Ring of Gullion Way skirts along the Carrickbroad Road and the Carewamean Road to the forest section at Glendooey.

From there, a series of disused paths and forestry tracks leads to the Tievecrom Road and the ascent of Tievecrom Mountain towards the ruined turret. Cross the stile, follow the harvesting tracks to the junction with The Captains Road and turn right to the Carrickastickan Road. Waymarkers lead along Woods Lane across a footbridge to Urney Graveyard and Forkhill.

The Backdrop

The Slieve Gullion Complex and the Carlingford Peninsula owe their dramatic mountainous origins to massive volcanic forces that occurred around 60 million years ago.

The ring of small mountains and hills that encircle Slieve Gullion are technically known as a ‘ring dyke' and the Ring of Gullion is perhaps the best example of this formation anywhere in the British Isles.

The brooding mass of Slieve Gullion is all that remains of the ancient volcano. The surrounding ring of hills was formed when a massive explosion led to the eventual destruction of the volcano.

The Ring of Gullion is rich in folklore and mythology and Slieve Gullion has often been described as Ireland's most mythic mountains. Stories of Finn McCool, Cu Chulainn, Oisin and the Fianna have survived for years.

The pillar at Kilnasaggart is perhaps the oldest dated cross-carved stone in Ireland, having been inscribed some time around 700AD. An old Irish inscription on the eastern face has been interpreted as “this place, bequeathed by Ternohc, son of Ceran the Little (died 714-6AD) under the patronage of Peter the apostle”.

Lord Mountjoy secured the Moyry Padd in 1600 and erected a three-storey tower and surrounding bawn, now known as Moyry Castle. The castle was completed in June 1601.

Jonesborough is located some nine kilometres south of Newry, close to the main Belfast to Dublin road. It is a linear settlement with a range of community and retail facilities. The character of the area is strongly enhanced by features such as dry stone walls and distinctive field patterns.

Urney Graveyard in Dungooley is the last resting place of the poet Peadar O'Doirnan.

Further information

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network, tel: 028 9030 3930 or . Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) in association with Belfast Telegraph have provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. CAAN and Belfast Telegraph, however, cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions but where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly. Walk Name: Ring of Gullion — Section 3 — Marble Bridge to Forkhill

Area: Ring of Gullion AONB.

Nearest big town to start point: Newry.

Distance: 13.8 km / 8.8 miles.

Terrain: Off road trails and quiet lanes.

Access Restrictions: Please note care is needed on the A1 Newry — Dublin Road as it is very busy.

Refreshments: Refreshments, shops, car parks and toilets in Jonesborough and Forkhill.

Publications: An Illustrated Guide to Walking the Ring of Gullion Way is available to download from the Ring of Gullion page on

Walk Developed By: Countryside Access and Activities Network.

Ordnance Survey Map: Sheets 28 & 29 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop, Lincoln Buildings 27-45 Great Victoria Street Belfast BT2 7SL ( ).

Belfast Telegraph

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