Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Slieve Donard

EDITED EXTRACTS FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY GAZETTEER OF IRELAND, PUBLISHED IN 1846


SLIEVE DONARD, a mountain on the mutual border of the parishes of Kilkeel and Kilcoo, and of the baronies of Mourne and Upper Iveagh, County Down.

Its summit is the loftiest of the great Mourne group of Mountains.

It is situated two miles west of the nearest part of the Irish Sea, and about the same distance south-west of the romantic village of Newcastle, has an altitude above sea-level of 2,796 feet; and consists of a beautifully outlined conical dome.

The ascent of the mountain from base to summit is about 3½ miles; the eastern escarpments form a most imposing sea-wall to the Irish channel; and the northern declivities sublimely blend with the superb scenes of TOLLYMORE PARK, and the gorgeous landscape northward to Slieve Croob.

The Strand, Newcastle, and Slieve Donard, 1895 (Image: Amazon)

"From the northern brow of the mountain," says a writer in the Dublin Penny Journal, "issues an exuberant fountain which emits more than half a foot of water exceedingly rapid and pure."

"This stream, and many others, meet in their descent, and form a river, which running through a channel of white stone, by ten thousand different breaks and windings, makes in summer a prospect of waterfalls, cascades, jets d'eau, ponds, etc, most various and delightful;"

"But in winter floods, the roar and impetuosity of this fall are terrible in the extreme."

"From the top down to the rocks hanging over the sea is one continued descent, and the lower parts, though craggy and rude enough, are covered with hazel, holly etc, those next to the sea cliffs being old, bowed, stunted, and languishing; while it is worthy of notice that those most remote, though situated higher, are flourishing and healthy; and all this on the face of a mountain exposed to a wide, open, eastern sea."

"In the descent southward, near the bottom, one is forced to slide down a sort of thatch, composed of furze, long grass, and juniper."

"St Donard, a disciple of St Patrick, is said to have spent the life of a hermit on this mountain, and built a cell or oratory at the top of it towards the close of the 5th century."

A deep narrow vale or glen divides Slieve Donard from the creeping mountain of Slieve Snavan [Slieve Lamagan].

On July 25th [St James's Day], the patron day of St Donard or Domangart, the alleged disciple of St Patrick, Roman Catholics used to climb Slieve Donard in performance of penance and pilgrimage; and near the summit of the mountain are the remains of two rude edifices, the ground around which formed the central place of their superstitious devotions.

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