Number 1 – Mountains of Mourne

The Guardian’s Stephen Moss, with the help of some experts – it says in the intro, picks 10 truly great British holiday destinations.. “1 Mountains of Mourne”. Discuss. *ducks*

  • Dec

    They were part of an ancient Gaelic kingdom and lots of Irish kings are reputed to be buried there. Parts of the area are still Gaelic-speaking

    Eh??

  • Fraggle

    If I was British (from Britain), I’d be annoyed that someone suggested that the best British holiday destination was somewhere outside Britain.

  • The Beach Tree

    Pete

    I thought at first you were ducking because you were ‘dissing’ the Mournes!

    Actually, the guide would probably be more useful if it stretched to cover the British Isles/Common Travel Area”

    “10 great Holiday Spots without your passport!” kind of makes thematic sense.

    I’d hope you’d be equally as not insulted if the sunday Tribune listed it in “10 of Ireland’s most beuatiful getaways”.

  • The Beach Tree

    Well, “beautiful getaways” anyway!

  • Crataegus

    I am inclined to agree with the general choice, personally I like places like North Devon, Dorset and some of the old cathedral towns such as Wells.

    If any of you haven’t been up in the Mournes, get up early one morning go straight up from Newcastle, forget about climbing Slieve Donard just continue over the saddle and turn right along the Brandy Pad into the heart of the mountains. Bring a good map and enjoy the peace and tranquillity.

    Fraggle

    We are talking holidays, good times, fun and enjoyment not politics. It’s a compliment and should be received in the spirit it was made. Smile and keep taking their money!

  • Pete Baker

    Beach

    No dissing intended.. I was ducking in anticipation of comments along the lines of Fraggle’s.

    “I’d hope you’d be equally as not insulted if the sunday Tribune listed it in ’10 of Ireland’s most beuatiful getaways'”

    Not only would I not be insulted, I’d be equally as delighted/amused as I am with the Guardian’s list. 🙂

  • The Beach Tree

    Pete

    Then I guess we’re agreed 😉

    Now about my “awaydays without a passport…” idea…

  • Overhere

    Totally agree with you Crataegus. Some people just don’t know how to get out of the argumentative way of seeing everything.

    Having lived for my first 24 years in the Mournes and now living in London I still miss the place and the fresh air (believe me if you had been in the underground last night you would faint). Most of all I miss the Yellow Road outside Hilltown. It does not go anywhere in particular but it is so quiet and if you park the car and get out you can hear the sky larks, it is a really magical place.

  • Beach, apparently Columbia’s nice this time of year, and apparently any old passport will do…

  • smcgiff

    ‘Beach, apparently Columbia’s nice this time of year, and apparently any old passport will do…’

    BA DUM TISH!

  • nutjack

    you could say the same about South Africa

  • jim

    nutjack : You couldnt say the same about South Africa as you need a special MI5 passport to make that trip.

    All comments aside the Mournes would be a top 10 Eurpoean holiday destination.

  • Animus

    Crataegus

    “Bring a good map and enjoy the peace and tranquillity”

    And a raincoat!

  • slug

    I hope that Newcastle can come along a bit. When I have taken people to the Mournes the general view is that Newcastle has such a great settin but needed classier shops. In particular, in the evening, they have all these pull-down grills over the shop windows, which makes it seem a rough place.

  • dantheman

    The mournes are a cracking spot and one of irelands nicest places. NOt too many brits about them though, just the army in ballykinlar. Still the sassenachs are more than welcome to spend their tourists pounds. The unfortunate thing is that it contributes to newcastle’s bad drugs problem. Will be in Tollymore forest park tomorrow myself!

  • IJP

    Peter

    Excellent spot!

    The Mountains of Mourne are superb, I wouldn’t quibble with that decision.

    Dan

    Downpatrick must be proud of you – that’s two forums you’ve massacred Newcastle on!!!

    A motorway to Newcastle would soon sort out the drugs problem, I’m sure…

  • missfitz

    Well, sitting here in Birmingham airport (hi guys) and seeing that made me all misty eyed for home!

    There are all sorts of politics about the Mournes at the moment, and a lot of issues about it becoming a National Park, thereby reducing the number of homes that can be built, and the effect that might have on farming families.

    But more important is the sheer beauty of the place, and the way it continues to unfold. I thought I knew all the roads and by roads, but a couple of weeks ago I got lost and ended up in one of the most spectacular roads ever. I think it was an area called the Rock.

    Anyhow, it deserves to be desginated as an area of outstanding beauty, I would just hope that it will never become clogged with buses and tourists and leprechauns, like Kerry.

    I will go home via the Yellow Road tonight Overhere, and I’m sure they’re all missing you!

  • David Michael

    Dec

    They were part of an ancient Gaelic kingdom and lots of Irish kings are reputed to be buried there. Parts of the area are still Gaelic-speaking

    Eh??

    I share your bewilderment, Dec. To the best of my knowledge Irish kings were always buried singly 🙂

  • missfitz

    Well I was in the Celtic Fjord in Rostrevor 2 weeks ago and a couple had a (loud and annoying) conversation as Gaeilge for the duration of the meal.

    If these 2 people are living in the area, then I guess the assertion is strictly true. Add to that the Irish classes in Kilcoo, and you have gaelic speaking parts of the Kingdom of Mourne.

    I’ve not heard it spoke much in Rathfriland though, perhaps its died out there completely

  • Páid

    The last original native speaker in the general area (Omeath) was Anna Dobbin who died in 1969, who had been brought up by an old aunt, Alice Dobbin. Thus do languages die, by the fireside.
    Of course, there are probably Irish speakers traipsing the Mournes now, but an ancient link was broken by Anna Dobbin’s death.

  • dantheman

    “Well I was in the Celtic Fjord in Rostrevor 2 weeks ago and a couple had a (loud and annoying) conversation as Gaeilge for the duration of the meal.

    If these 2 people are living in the area, then I guess the assertion is strictly true. Add to that the Irish classes in Kilcoo, and you have gaelic speaking parts of the Kingdom of Mourne.

    I’ve not heard it spoke much in Rathfriland though, perhaps its died out there completely ”

    I think Rathfriland’s last speaker was a certain Enoch Powell.

    IJP

    No a motorway from Downpatrick to the end of the new Newry bypass would solve the problem, with a slip road to Newcastle if they behave themselves

  • GAK

    I lived in London for 18 years.As a kid we used to have holidays in Newcastle.Now 40 years later I have moved here to live.It’s a dream come true,the Mournes are simply magical.I have visited about 30 countries during my life and the Mournes are as good as it gets.

  • Crataegus

    Slug

    “I hope that Newcastle can come along a bit.”

    It would be easy enough to sort out the architectural milieu of Newcastle. I think it is important not to have any more large seafront developments and concentrate on upgrading many of the small shops and maximising usage of floor space. Keep it jumbled and diverse. There are inappropriate shop frontages, flat roofs etc but some of the fundamentals are good. It would be easy enough to come up with an overall development plan that would provide a lot of additional accommodation, improve the overall character and still retain the amusement arcades etc.

    In addition you need more good accommodation for tourists and I think make a lot more of the area around the entrance to Donard Park, the harbour and the old railway station.

    Pity the Railway society in Downpatrick doesn’t have a line to Newcastle. It would be a great tourist asset.

    Get more tourists into the Mournes, ensure the opportunities are for everyone, enable farmers to set up B&Bs etc. More people and more money and the place will take off but it needs to be planned.

    Good to have something that I can get enthused about. The big problem is the place dies in winter and hard to run a business based on 4-5 months trade.

  • Rapunsel

    Good discussion this. Agree with most of the posts. Crataegus, you’re right in general but I do detect in myself from time to time the feeling that I want to keep some of the places in the Mournes to myself and the prospects of mass tourism have the potential for much negative impact too. Conemara national park has had serious problems with erosion on Diamond Hill yet in general mass tourism seems to sit well enough without immediately apparent negative environmental and other impacts. The challenge for the Mournes is that compared to other upland areas they are so accessible and compact and the potential for damage is greater. It’s a special place alright and I’ll never grow sick of it.

  • Katinka

    I do a lot of sailing…when you see the Mournes peeping above the horizon you know you are nearly home. I have walked the wall, I remember Knockbarragh Youth Hostel and Mrs MacDonald Ross the warden, and I once walked along the top of the Cooley Mountains and down into Carlingford in perfect weather with the sun glinting on the Mournes opposite…I have travelled the world and there is nowhere like the Mournes….
    ‘Oh Mourne land you are so fair, so fair
    In rain or sun you’ll find me there…’

  • Crataegus

    Rapunsel

    Of course you are right it needs to be planned, but mass tourism in the form of caravan sites does descend on Newcastle and most people are happy to look up at the mountains. The walk from Newcastle into the silent valley is doable for most people but it’s a fair walk and I doubt if even 1 in 1000 do it!

    On a rainy weekend the opportunities for amusement are limited, walking along the coast to Dundrum in the rain is a minority sport so we need some ingenuity and a range of attractions.

    What would worry me is we make the area a National Park and then set restrictions so tight local people don’t benefit. Need to be very careful and get the balance right but great potential for especially in the towns. Places like Hilltown, Castllewellan, Kilkeel and Annalong could do with a bit of a lift.

    With regards winter has anyone any ideas how the season could be extended? Conference facilities, craft training?

  • missfitz

    Crat
    Its that balance thats so important isnt it? While I fully support the area being self supporting, I’ll say it again, I would hate to drive from Kilkeel to Hilltown and get stuck behind hundreds of buses. What makes it so special now is the haunting desertion of the place, the isolation and beauty, the feeling sometimes that you are the only person on earth.

    A big part of me wants it to stay the way it is, the way it has been for so long.

    At least in winter, you know its deserted, a toursit free season if you like. Do you really wnat it deveopled to that extent

  • ecce romani

    Far be it for me to say but surely warrenpoint is the gateway to the mournes and not newcstle and at least it isnt full of belfast spides of a weekend………

  • Alan

    Finally, an uplifting thread on Slugger !

    I did a lot of work in communities from Annalong to Kilkeel a few years ago and the very fact that you passed those green eminences lightened your step.

    I’m off to Cushendall in a few moments which is in another area that let’s you breathe deep and still your heart. I want to freewheel down Glenariffe and Glenballyeamon – I’ll do it some day.

  • Droch_Bhuachaill

    As a person who works in the tourism industry down here in Munster, I would be interested if you Ulsterites think that it would benefit the province more to be marketed as part of all all-island tourism, or as a UK destination?

  • David Michael

    Uh oh, I knew the peace and harmony were too good to last.

    Thus do politics intrude on every Slugger thread 🙂

  • ‘When we’ve got all we want,we’re as quiet as can be
    Where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea’

  • missfitz

    DB
    Isnt All Ireland tourism covered under the GFA? I thought it was one of the bodies set up to promote island wide tourism, so potentially your question is redundant in one sense.

    In another, the political reality is that NI is part of the UK, and as such we could potentially benefit from 2 bites of advertising budget cherries, as was demonstrated by this ranking.

    We moan and gripe about economic harship and lack of energy in providing a boost to the economy, but the potential for improving our tourism sector is massive, and should be one of the major ways forward for us.

    I know I would rather keep the Mournes secret, but the reality of life dictates that cannot be so.
    So yeah, lets be both. Be part of a 32 county marketing intiative, as well as part of the UK one as well.

    NI is essentially schizophrenic, so this will not be a problem.

    And David, I dont consider this to be a political debate, just one of cold hard facts

  • David Michael

    Cold hard facts, missfitz? Hah! I’m looking out of my window at the Mournes even as I write, and they’re anything but.
    They’re soft, green and misty… like me dear oul’ mother’s eyes 🙂

  • David Michael

    Article in the guardian you might be interested in…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1768902,00.html

  • missfitz

    nice one hair….

    Well David, what say you now? Green and misty indeed!

  • David Michael

    hairierarea

    Excellent article! How did you know this was my field of interest? People love to have a go at Freud, and he did set himself up for ridicule, yet we owe him such a debt of gratitude. He stands at the crosswords between hooey and neuroscience.

    I used to take the Guardian until it went tabloid, in content as well as format. Still not sure what this article has to do with the Mournes though…

  • David Michael

    Missy, I’m obviously living in a different Rostrevor from you. When I posted before, the Mournes I could see from my window really were green and shrouded in mist!

  • Crataegus

    Hairierarea

    Just the sort of article to wind down from Dr Who on.

    “(penis envy, the inferiority of the clitoral orgasm)”.

    Never out of my mind but is it all an illusion? Sadly in my case probably.

  • Jo

    A beautiful part of the world and set to be NIs National Park next year, consultation this autumn.

    As for “not many Brits about the place”, there are quite a few residents who would see themselves as British -as is their right in a part of the UK – and are not for moving.

    Sorry if that spoils anyone’s day or their dreams of Catholic lassies dancing at crossroads etc…

  • smirkyspice

    and here comes Jo to unnecessarily introduce religion to the thread…

  • missfitz

    Well I thought that this was one of the least whatabouting, mopeing, whingeing threads ever seen on slugger.

    The Mournes bring out the pacifisit in people I see

  • Jo

    I think you are right, MissFitz.

    I hope its not a side effect of radon! 😉