Commonage Campaign in the Dartry Mountains
This week our teams are busy on the Galtees in Co.s Limerick and Tipperary, the Dartry Mountains in Co.’s Leitrim and Sligo, Musheramore in West Cork and the Slieve Aughties in Co.’s Clare and Galway. Approx. 25% of the commonages have already been assessed, we aim to complete an initial assessment for all commonage this year.
The Breifne team have been focused on the Dartry’s for the last two weeks. A hard slog on steep slopes in terrible weather but with the reward of some of Irelands best landscapes in a place full of stories.
The best know mountain in the Dartry’s is Ben Bulben. The steep grassy slopes, the spectacular cliffs, and the distinctive flat plateau are all a product of the limestone geology and the action of ice and rain over millenia. The cliffs are home to Arctic plants that have held on here since the retreat of the ice. Some of these like the Fringed Sandwort are found no where else in Ireland, the nearest populations are in Greenland and the Alps. Both Chough and Peregrine Falcons nest on the steep cliffs. The Atlantic Chough has its only inland population here, the short sheep swards on the limestone slopes providing the ideal foraging ground for the birds. .
These mountains have witnessed their share of tragedy, the deaths of six anti-treaty soldiers during an infamous clash on the slopes of Ben Bulben in 1922, the crash of a B17 in 1943 in which three young American aviators died, and the earlier crash of an RAF Catalina Flying Boat in which nine airmen lost their lives.
Large parts of the story of Diarmuid and Grainne, a famous tale from Irish mythology are set in these mountains. Diarmuid was a member of the Fianna, a group of warriors led by Fionn McCumhail (Finn MacCool). However, Diarmuid fell in love with Grainne, who was betrothed to Fionn. The couple eloped, and Fionn pursued them in a vengeful hunt across the countryside.
Diarmuid and Grainne sought refuge in the Dartry Mountains, where they tried to evade Fionn’s wrath. Unfortunately, Diarmuid met his tragic end in these hills during the hunt for the wild boar of Ben Bulben.
The wild boar of Ben Bulben still features on County Sligo’s Coat of Arms.
No wild boar were seen on these commonage but what a view