Ireland // Down and Armagh //

The Ring of Gullion

Most of South Armagh’s attractions are concentrated in and around the area known as the Ring of Gullion, a naturally formed ring-dyke of low-lying hills that encircles (and predates) the mountain at its core. People have lived here for more than six thousand years, and there’s a rich heritage of remains and monuments. On the ring’s western fringe is the Dorsey Enclosure, two huge earthen banks and ditch ramparts dating from the Iron Age, running for a mile either side of the old route to Navan Fort. Elsewhere are numerous dolmens and cairns, Christian relics and monuments from the Plantation era.

Slieve Gullion, which dominates the southeastern corner of County Armagh, is one of the most mysteriously beautiful mountains in the country. A store of romantic legends is attached to it, especially concerning Cúchulainn, the hero of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, who took his name here after slaying the hound (Cú) of the blacksmith Culainn. Due south at Glendhu is where Cúchulainn single-handedly halted the army of Queen Medb of Connaught, who was intent on capturing the great bull of Cooley. Fionn Mac Cumhaill, who founded the Fianna, a mythical national militia whose adventures are told in the Fenian Cycle, also appears in stories here.