Darkley village was the venue for the latest in the Siúil series of bilingual heritage walks last Thursday evening. The free heritage walks, which are organized by Cairde Teo, take place across the city and the surrounding rural areas each Thursday and focus on buildings and areas of local historic or heritage significance. The walking tour in Darkley was guided by local knowledgeable historian and author Liam Ó Manacháin, chairperson of the Darkley Rural Community Group, who recounted the history, mythology and folk stories of the area and its people to all those in attendance. The walk was carried out in Irish and in English and was enjoyed by a large group from Armagh, Keady and Darkley village itself. The placename Dearclaigh, anglicized as Darkley, has a number of interpretations, including Place of the Caves, Oak Mound Ditch from dair meaning oak and claí meaning ditch and Place of the Lookout from dearc meaning to look.
The Irish language and English language walk, which took place on Summer Solstice, began in Darkley village and made its way up the Dam Road, to Tullynawood Lough, past Darkley Wee Lough and back down the Lough Mark to Darkley mill and chimney. Tullynawood Lake is said to be the final resting place of the children of Lir, one of Celtic mythology’s most reknowned tales, when the children were turned to swans and returned to the birthplace of their father, who is said to live under Carrickatuke. The walk also followed the Lough Mark, retracing the footsteps of hundreds of workers who came from Monaghan and Cavan to work in the Darkley mill and factory. Many stories of the people of Darkley, as well as some local ghost stories, were also recounted along the way, as was the story of the mill factory and linen trade.
The Darkley walk followed up on the first of the series at Navan Fort and King’s Stables, which was guided by Réamonn Ó Ciaráin, author of Laoch na Laochra and Cú Chulainn, Ulster’s Greatest Hero. The next walk on Thursday 28 June will focus on St Luke’s Hospital, starting at 7pm in front of Armagh Planetarium, and participants will walk along Mullinure Lane before arriving in the beautiful grounds of the famous hospital. The group also plan to visit Seagahan Dam on 5 July, starting at 7pm at the Bull’s Track beside Ballymacnab chapel and completing a loop around the dam itself. Further walks planned over the summer months include Milford and Ballyards, the Yellow Ford Way, Ballymoyer Wood and Glaslough. For updated information on walks and starting points will be posted on the Cairde Teo Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as on their website at www.cairdeteo.com.