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24 Jan 2019

Armagh’s bilingual hillwalking group Siúil, recently got their 2019 programme of walks underway with a trip to Knockmany Forest near Augher in County Tyrone, mythological home of Finn McCool and his wife Oonagh. A group of over 20 Irish speakers and learners enjoyed the beautiful walk on a mild January Saturday morning through the conifer and broadleaved woodlands to arrive at the passage tomb on the summit of Knockmany. The tomb, which dates from 3000BC, is known as Áine’s tomb and contains a number of stones within the cairn that are decorated with characteristic passage tomb art, including circles, spirals, zigzags and ancient ogham writing. The tomb may be named after the Celtic goddess Áine, who is associated with midsummer and the sun. The Armagh walkers were treated to a spectacular panoramic view over the Tyrone countryside and the nearby Slieve Beagh hills in Monaghan and Fermanagh.

The walking group will continue with the year’s programme on Saturday 2 February with a walk on Slieve Croob from the village of Finnis. The source of the River Lagan lies on this mountain, which is a solitary outlier of the Mournes located in the rolling hills and fertile pastures of the Dromara area. The summit was once the location of a massive cairn, which was the focus of the annual Blaeberry Sunday tradition at the end of July, a tradition associated with the more local Carrickatuke Mountain. The Slieve Croob walk will start at 11am at the chapel in Finnis and will follow the Pass Loaning route to the summit and back down on the transmitter road and Dree Hill. New amd retunring members are always welcome on the walks. The Siúil group will also join with Omagh-based bilingual walking group Pobal ar a’n Iúl on Sunday 3 March for a walk on Slieve Beagh, which straddles three of Ulster’s counties: Monaghan; Tyrone; and Fermanagh.

Following the Slieve Croob and Slieve Beagh walks, the group has a wide range of walking excursions planned right across the north of Ireland, as well as taking in the Bray cliff walk during the summer. The walks will encompass the Mourne range, the Bluestack mountains in south Donegal, the Cooley mountains in Louth, and the Crockback Way in the Sperrin range. For further information on the Siúil walking group, call in to the Cairde Teo office at the Cult Úr shop in Armagh City Shopping Centre or contact Seán on sean@cairdeteo.com or 028 3751 5229.