The Walkers Raid of Cooley

The Walkers Raid of Cooley


Táin Bó Cúailnge (the driving–off of cows of Cooley) is commonly known as The Cattle Raid of Cooley or The Táin). It’s a legendary early Irish epic tale which tells of a war against Ulster by Connacht’s Queen Medb and her husband Ailill, who intended to steal the stud bull Donn Cuailnge opposed only by the teenage Ulster hero Cu Chulainn.

All of this is purported to have happened on the Cooley Mountains in County Louth, that long ridge high above Carlingford Lough opposite the Mournes. It is wonderful walking country with as many as ten way–marked trails to indulge in. We had done the Barnavave Loop before but remembering the ‘murderous’ stretch above the forest, it was decided to join up three sections – the Eastern part of the Barnavave Loop, Molly’s Loop and the Grange Loop, making about five miles of much more manageable trails.

We met at the Tourist Office in the medieval village of Carlingford which in itself would make a great short historical walk, with its De Lacy and King John connections. The village’s inability to develop a heavy industry allowed its ancient layout and archaeological artefacts to remain relatively intact. Off we went up a steep hill right into the forest of head high ferns on a path down which rivulets of water ran. Just as we emerged from these (green) ferns Peter was able to tell us the score in the second Test against the All Blacks (they of the silver fern). That made us very happy! The trail turned east at that point and wound up Barnavave, along the Tain Way for a short time, and then we struck off for the summit. We made our way between the two peaks, one of which, at 1500 feet, was ‘conquered’ by Susan and Maurice.

Then it was downhill to the deserted village on the side of Barnavave where we had lunch. This small hamlet used to contain about 12–15 houses. In the pre–Famine years, food and other supplies were brought up from Carlingford by horse and cart which meandered along the tracks which now form part of the pathway of the Barnavave Loop. During the Potato Famine of 1845–1852, this community and others similar to it, were particularly hard hit and were literally wiped out. As a result, the buildings became dilapidated and the tiny settlement became colloquially known as ‘the famine village’. Today, all that’s left is a clump of ruins which provide a little shelter for the sheep and goats who continue to roam the area. It made an interesting lunch stop and we were lucky to finish before the rain came. The next set of walkers weren’t so fortunate.

With the rain turning out to be rather more than a shower we headed back to the village by the ‘shortcut’ and on Peter’s advice made McAteer’s our refreshment stop where we dried out as well as indulging in their mouth watering desserts! Well worth it if you’re in Carlingford.

Thanks to Peter and Brian for looking after us!

Added by: RobbieJackson
Added on: Monday 17th July 2017

Category: Walkers

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