Mullagh Hill; Scenery, Serenity, and Sonnets

Mullagh Lake

Mullagh Lake

Knowing how creative the Irish are, it still surprised me when I walked up Mullagh Hill for the first time, and found… Poetry!

You can often see and hear birds of prey flying around the top of the ridge as you walk up

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Mullagh is a small village in Co Cavan some fifteen minutes drive from my house. The Hill itself rises 684 feet above the  lake at its base. Interestingly, its name in Irish is An Mullach Laoighill, meaning ‘the mound of Laoighill’, but whether this refers to the hill, or something man-made which might once have topped the summit, I don’t know. There are some rather large chunks of rock up there, though, but my untrained eye cannot distinguish between that which has been shaped by nature, and that which has been carved by the tools of ancient man. However, it seems that Ordnance Survey engineers in 1913 claimed to have located a mound with a grave somewhere on the hill. Soon after this announcement, the tomb was found opened and raided, but by whom, and what they discovered, remains a secret never to be revealed.

Indi taking a rest at the top

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Mullagh is most famous for its associations with St Killian, who was born there in 640AD. He was later martyred in Bavaria in 689 AD. Killian’s story is an interesting one; born of noble descent, he went on to complete his education in Cork and Kerry, where he became patron saint of Touist. From there he travelled to Rome to meet the Pope, before finally settling in the German town of Wurzberg, where the Duke Gozbert and his people were still pagan. Failing to convert the Duke’s wife, Geilana, Killian informed the Duke that he had acted against scripture by marrying his own brother’s widow. Enraged by his badmouthing her marriage, Geilana sent soldiers after Killian, and had him beheaded on the spot as he preached in the town square, along with two of his colleagues. Wurzberg Cathedral was later built on the very spot where they were said to have met their deaths, and their remains dug up and placed in a crypt. Bizzarely, their skulls were inlaid with precious jewels and currently reside in a glass case which is still paraded around the streets of Wurzberg on Killian’s feast day, July 8th.

Statue of St Killian in Wurzberg

Statue of St Killian in Wurzberg

The jewel encrusted skulls of St Killian and his friends in their glass case

It is said that the Rev. Dr. Jonathon Swift wrote part of his tale, Gulliver’s Travels, whilst staying at Quilca House, the home of his friend Thomas Sheridan, on the outskirts of the site of the old Mullagh Village, which is situated about one km NW of the present village.

The way back down.

The way back down.

But what I like most about Mullagh Hill is the solitude, the serenity, and the scenery. It’s a short but steep walk. There is an uninterrupted 360* view from the top, which on a clear day, takes in the vast Neolithic mound complex of Loughcrew, and the tower at Kells, which incidentally, is also the site of an ancient hill fort. Birds of prey call to each other as they fly overhead, and the lake below glistens in the sunlight. Resting at the top, absorbing all this while the heady scent of yellow gorse washes over you, gives you the chance to reflect on the words you have read on the way up. Going back down gives you the chance to read them all again. It’s a truly unique experience.

A selection of the poems found along the route up Mullagh Hill. There are more, but I couldn’t include them all here.

 (1)

  Fond memories dwell beside 

  fair Mullagh mountain’s mist crowned dome

  And sadly turned from scenes of pride

  To you my lovely island home.

  (From My Native Hills – Bernard Nulty 1895)

 

 

(3)

Old Mullagh hill of the craggy braes

Is clothed with fern and fir

And looks as young as in olden days

But it never seems to stir.

It is all the same in a thousand years

The lake looks calm and mild

Whilst steering up the old mill-stream

By the church yard drear and wild.

(From Mullagh Hill – Robert O’Reilly)

(4)

I am a stream as old as time

From Mullagh’s wave I take my rise

I gurgle on with busy chime

And sparkle like a lover’s eyes.

(From The Old Mill Stream – Robert O’Reilly)

(10)

Home again in Noble Breffni

Filled with yearning of the past

Stood I on the Mullagh Mountain

As the sun’s last line was cast

And I thought upon the evenings

Far away in Germany

When my ears drank in the story

That the wood man told to me.

(From A Lay of Early Missionary Days – John Keegan (Leo) Casey 1866)

26 Comments on “Mullagh Hill; Scenery, Serenity, and Sonnets

  1. Great post – what a wonderful place to visit – it surely has everything for a good day out.
    Do you mind if I ask you – how do you get the blogs you enjoy gizmo on your site?

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    • I found it on the gizmo menu…only joking lol!!!
      If you go into appearance on the main menu and then into widgets, you will find it on the left hand side. You just have to drag it to the right hand side in the position you want it to appear on your sidebar, and save.
      But my website is a wordpress.com site not a worgpress.org. If yours is a .org it may be different. Hope that helps!

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  2. Wow, what a beautiful place to visit! You really do describe things very well, I could picture most of what the place might look like in my mind. Another place I hope I can visit. 🙂

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    • Im glad you can get a sense of the place through reading about it Eilish! The steep climb, the open space around you at the top, and listening to the birds of prey call is enough to fill your senses…Ill take you there and read the poems to you…I know how you love poetry! I hope I can do them justice…Im not very good with it myself!

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    • I put pics of the poems in the post…did someone read them to you? If not I can add them into the body of the post for you?

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      • If you’ve got the time, I’d love it if you could add in some of the poetry in the pictures! Don’t worry about it if you’re swamped with deadlines. Incidentally I figured out that I can put acute letters in the name I display on my blog, so it is now Éilís. I’ll have to get used to that acute I bit, because I’ve been writing with a short i for two years. Want to be accurate though! 🙂 At this point however I won’t be able to convince my friends to pronounce it differently, it would be hard enough for me to switch from saying “ay-lish” so i think that’s what it will continue to be.

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        • Hi Éilís! Of course I have the time! I’ll do it tonight after Carys has gone to bed. Congratulations on your decision about the name…I feel like we should celebrate…

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          • Ah well… 🙂 I hope this doesn’t end up too disappointing but I have compromised and decided to not write an acute I. I’ve spent possibly a little over two years writing it Éilis, and I know at least twenty people who are going to pronounce it that way, including me. I ought to have learned the proper spelling at the outset. As it is, this is the form in which I recognize myself. Aye, but at least I’ve got an acute letter and no h on the end. 🙂 And for some reason I have been wanting to write aye on everything I am posting today… .lol.

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            • I like Éilis better anyway! I think of you as Aylish as it is. Dont feel disappointed…Irish is the most ambiguous language in the world!!! Éilis is perfect!

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            • Thanks Ali! 🙂 My favorite rule of Irish grammar is the one that introduces a rule and then says, “Irish grammar follows this rule unless it doesn’t.” LOL! Something like that is literally written at the beginning of one of the Irish lesson booklets I use. I guess that could be annoying, but I think it’s great.

              Liked by 1 person

            • The enigma that is Elusive Ireland! I love it too, but it took me quite a while to get used to it. I have updated my post with the words for the poems, if you would like to check them out when you get a chance.

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  3. Some a beautiful place and country. So rich in interesting history as well.

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    • No Ed…although there are some large rocks which I’ve always wondered about. They could have come from a cairn. The top has been flattened to make space for a viewing platform and pic-nic table, so perhaps the remains of the cairn were destroyed in that process. You can’t actually access all of the hill-top…private propertly lol! And much of it is covered in gorse and scrub, so perhaps it’s hidden somewhere altogether different. In the 50’s, a priest had a cross erected on another part of the hill, you can see it from the top, it’s quite close by, but there’s no access, so perhaps its located there, seeing as the church loved to claim pagan sites for Christianity lol!

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      • They sure bloody did, chances are it was destroyed, like the ones on Montpellier hill. The stone was used to build the Hell Fire Club.

        Still sounds like a good place to have a look around :-).

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        • The Hell Fire Club? That doesnt sound very Christian! I dont know anything about Montpelier Hill but it doesnt surprise me. Saddens me. Why is there such disregard for the past? I know its been and gone, but does that mean it doesnt matter?

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            • Wow what a story Ed!!! How intriguing…and creepy! I’ve never heard of such goings on. You should repost that story.

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            • I dont like the images much, so I might stop by the next time im in the area and redo the lot for a new post, I reckon some nice Black & Whites might show off the true nature of the building. Since posting it I have come across a few more rather creepy tales regarding it. My late gran also told me that one of her brothers used to drink up there, I hope that he wasn’t one of those Mason git’s. Then there is a tale about a rather large Black dog with flame red eyes.

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            • Ooooh…the Cu Sidhe! I’d love to hear about that! Yes, another post Im looking forward to seeing…dont keep me waiting too long!

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