Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Seven Wonders of Northern Ireland: I’m still enchanted by beauty of the Mournes

The spectacular view from Slieve Donard is worth the climb for former world champion boxer Barry McGuigan

Our series on what makes Northern Ireland so special continues with a legendary boxer Barry McGuigan's view

I won my first Irish title in Limerick in 1977 and in 1978 I became a senior boxer, winning the Ulster and Irish titles, and was picked for the Northern Irish team at the Commonwealth Games.

We trained in Newcastle and I had my first experience of Slieve Donard. I was enthralled by how fantastic it was.

We stayed at the Slieve Donard Hotel, ran on the beach and golf course in the morning, did circuit training on the hotel lawns and on our active recovery days — basically days off — we would walk up it.

We did our sparring in Down

patrick. I fell in love with the mountain at the beginning and return all the time.

It is not a daunting climb as the challenge depends on your pace and route.

You can walk to it from Newcastle which is a more gentle approach.

I normally storm up the mountain in about one hour and 45 minutes.

Slieve Donard has the most beautiful colours and halfway up you can dangle your feet in the freezing cold stream water to refresh yourself then put your boots back on for the final steep climb alongside the Mourne wall that was built back in the 1900s. I enjoy the last bit.

At the top there is a stunning view.

It is a great spiritual walk, you feel relaxed and in the right place — home.

Percy French's lyric about the mountains of Mourne sweeping down to the sea is right.

\[Shane Donaghey\] We are spoilt in Ireland; I live in England now and the beaches and scenery are not the same.

At the top of Slieve Donard it is wild and wonderful and fresh and clean.

Barry McGuigan (50), The Clones Cyclone, became world featherweight champion in 1985 and is now a boxing commentator with the Daily Mirror.

How you can shape the Seven Wonders

So what do you, the reader, think makes Northern Ireland special?

As our series runs every day over the next month we invite readers to vote on which landmark or aspect of life here as detailed by our celebrity contributors that they most agree with.

At the conclusion of the series this will enable us to draw up a list of the Seven Wonders of Northern Ireland — the things that really make Northern Ireland great.

Your choices can be sent to Belfast Telegraph, 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB or alternatively send an email to featureseditor@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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