Slieve Gullion

“Slieve Gullion- it’s volcanic roots! Rising 576 meters above the surrounding countryside, Slieve Gullion dominates the landscape of south Armagh and lies at the centre of a pronounced ring of hills known as the Ring of Gullion. Together, these features are testament to a time in Ireland’s history when volcanoes ruled the landscape. Both the mountain and its surrounding ring of hills represent the eroded heart of a volcano that existed here around 60 million years ago. At that time, Europe and North America were starting to move apart. Deep in the Earth’s crust, large volumes of molten rock or magma started to move slowly upwards and was erupted at the surface through large volcanoes. By following the Slieve Gullion Forest Park Drive it is possible to see evidence of those violent eruptions. Scientists believe that Slieve Gullion is made up of alternating layers of light and dark lava that was erupted from the volcanoes 60 million years ago. A more likely explanantion however, suggest that the alternating layers of dark basalt-like rock called dolerite and light granite like rock called garnophyre never erupted as lava at the surface. Instead the near-horizontal sheets of dark and light coloured rock formed and cooled slowly in the Earth’s crust, deep beneath the Slieve Gullion volcano. Together these rocks make up Slieve Gullion and give it a somewhat stepped profile. The Summit – loughs, cairns, and legends: A path from the north end of this car park leads to the summit of Slieve Gullion from where spectacular views extend across a wide part of Ireland. The pillar on the summit has a chart on top pointing to the hills in the distance telling you what they are and how far they are from you. At the summit you will notice that there is a significant mound of stones. This cairn; known locally as “Calliagh’s Berra’s House” is the highest surviving passage tomb in Ireland. A smaller stone cairn lies just to the north, just past Lough Calliagn Berra. The tombs probably date back to the Bronze Age and Neolithic times. According to legend, Fionn Mac Comhaill was bewitched by Miluchra at Lough Calliagh Berra. He was lured into the pool where he emerged a wizened white-haired old man. The superstition survives today that should you bathe in the lough your hair will turn white! Ring of Gullion – An Ancient Ring of Fire: From the summit, the circular line of hills making up the Ring of Gullion can also be seen. The hills are up to 300 meters high and follow the line of a circular fracture, or ring fault, in the Earth’s crust. The rocks that make up these hills consist of dolerite, gabbro and felsite, all of which cooled from magma deep underground. However some parts of the hills are also made up of basalt, volcanic glass, volcanic tuffs, and volcanic breccia and the existence of these are evidence of, occasionally explosive, volcanic activity at the surface here 60 million years ago. ” ~ sign at Slieve Gullion.

“Slieve Gullion (Siabh gCuilinn, The mountains of the steep slope) stands at a height of 573 meters in the centre of the Ring of Gullion and is the highest mountain in County Armagh. On the southern summit, a large Neolithic burial chamber known locally as ‘Calliagh Berra’s House’ is the highest surviving passage tomb in Ireland, Local folklore tells how the famous Irish Giant, Finn McCool was bewitched by the wicked Calliagh Berra. Touched by her sandness, Finn was tricked into diving into the bottomless lake to retrieve her lost ring. The mighty Finn surfaced some time later with the ring but he had fallen under her spell and emerged an old man with hair as white as snow. Eventually, Calliagh Berra was forced to undo her evil spell and Finn regained his former physique, with the exception of his beautiful blonde hair. The story still goes that if anyone swims in that treacherous lake, their hair will turn white! ” ~ landmark sign at Slieve Gullion. more info about Slieve Gullion: http://www.technogypsie.net/reviews/?p=4419

photos 8/14/12:

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