Wednesday, 22 February 2017

ROSTREVOR



Rostrevor, on the shore of Carlingford Lough, is a handy gateway to the Mountains of Mourne, approaching them from the south.  The name of the village is said to derive from Rose, the wife of Sir Edward Trevor, who married her in 1612.  Trevor was a key member of a Welsh dynasty who met Rose, daughter of the Archbishop of Armagh, while on military service in Ireland, and the land around Rostrevor was an estate he acquired there. 

Among the points of interest around the village is the Cloughmore Stone (Big Stone) just outside the southern end of Rostrevor.  This large granite boulder is thought to have been transported from Scotland during the last Ice Age, although according to legend it was tossed over from the other side of the Lough by a giant.  Being 1,000 feet above the Lough, it is worth the walk up to the stone for the views, in addition to which there is a local tradition at Easter in which the locals roll Easter eggs down the slope from here.  On the Kilbroney road above the village are the remains of the 6th century church of StBronagh.  The church is known for the ghostly ringing of a bell, even though there has been no bell in use there since the monastic community set up at the church came to an end.  On Shore Road is the Ross Monument, originally erected in 1826 and restored in 2008, in honour of local hero Major General Robert Ross, whose military adventures included a victory over American forces at Bladensburg, Maryland, during the War of 1812. 

For an energetic walk, head up into the mountains, where there are attractive walking routes through Rostrevor Forest.  Or if you have kids in tow, head over to Kilbroney Park, where the Narnia Trail brings the famous C S Lewis stories to life, with themes including The Tree People and The Beaver’s House.  Fans of ancient sites should head out to the Kilfeaghan Dolmen, about 3 miles out of the village.  This Neolithic portal tomb is about 5,000 years old and has one of the biggest capstones in Ireland, weighing 35 tons.


File:The quay at Rostrevor - geograph.org.uk - 264350.jpg
Photo by Albert Bridge, via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

WARRENPOINT



The Northern Irish town of Warrenpoint faces the Republic of Ireland across the waters of Carlingford Lough.  The town sits at the mouth of the Newry Canal where it empties out into the Lough, and it is also near the foothills of the Mountains of Mourne.  There are lovely views from the seafront of the mountains meeting the sea.  The town was planned and built on a grid system at the beginning of the 19th century, and by the mid 1800s its timber trade with North America and Canada had turned it into a prominent port.  It was also an important centre for markets and fairs. 

Nowadays the town is a popular seaside venue, with a range of restaurants and watering holes plus an amusement park in the summer.  Above the town is a track called the Bridal Loanen, and at the entrance to this is the Coronation Stone of the Clan Magennis, once one of the most powerful families in Ulster.  This was where the chieftain of the Clan was inaugurated, surrounded by all those who owed him allegiance.  Just outside the town, beyond the WarrenpointGolf Club, is Narrow Water Castle, a 16th century tower house which, as its name suggests, occupies a riverside site on the Clanrye River a mile from where it enters the Lough.  The site was originally fortified in 1212 by Hugh de Lacy, 1st Earl of Ulster, in a bid to protect nearby Newry from river attacks, but the original castle was destroyed during the 1641 rebellion.  The castle was the scene of a tragic event during "the Troubles", when 18 British soldiers were killed in an ambush by the Provisional IRA.  Nowadays it is the scene of happier events, as it is a popular wedding venue.

Map of the area.

File:Warrenpoint, July 2010 (02).JPG
Photo by Ardfern, via Wikimedia Commons