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Nephin : A Mountain and a Lost Ship

Steve came hillwalking last March and wrote the following article about the day, which he has kindly permitted me to reproduce here. We climbed Nephin – at 806 m, Connacht’s second highest mountain.

 

Nephin

Hiking Nephin in March

” A Mountain and a Lost Ship

Barry Murphy met us outside the post office in the village of Lahardane, County Mayo. He was our guide for a hike up Nephin Mór – the second highest mountain in Connacht. With introductions made, our small group set off.

As we approached the trail, Barry introduced us to the local history of the parish of Addergoole. A ruined house had once been the home of a victim of the sinking of the Titanic. A total of fourteen parishioners had sailed on the ill starred voyage; only three survived. The loss is reputed to be the greatest in Europe from a single small locality.

Catherine McGowan is credited with putting the ‘Addergoole Fourteen’ together. She had spent several years in America and had originally returned home to bring her niece out to the States. Others decided to join her and their dream of a new life ended in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. Catherine perished, but her niece, 17 year old Annie McGowan, was rescued. She lived to the grand age of 95 and is buried in Illinois.

Each year, the tragedy of 1912 is commemorated by the ringing of a lone church bell at 2.20am on 15th April; the moment when the great liner slipped beneath the waves. There is a thriving Titanic Society, and relatives of the passengers still live in the area. A centenary programme is planned for 2012.

We now began our ascent of the mountain. A fine Irish drizzle closed in;  it seemed our efforts would not be rewarded with a spectacular view. Boots crunched in deep snow as we neared the summit. Then, right on cue, the mist lifted and all was revealed in sunlight. Directly below us was the anglers’ paradise of Lough Conn. On the horizon, the conical outline of the holy mountain of Croagh Patrick. To the west, the grandeur of Achill Island and the very Atlantic Ocean that had taken such a toll.

Poses were struck, and cameras clicked as we enjoyed our good fortune.

 

Nephin summit

At the summit of Nephin Mór

With hike over, we returned to our hotel where Barry joined us for a pint and the swapping of tales. We much enjoyed his account of hitching through a divided Germany. An East German policeman inspected his belongings. Barry’s meagre rations had consisted of a Mars bar and a hard boiled egg. ‘Crack ze egg’, insisted this paragon of suspicion.

A fine evening was rounded off by a Guinness fuelled screening of the Ireland v England rugby international. I awoke next morning with a heavy head, but a light heart. On checking out, I reminded the receptionist of my heroics in scaling Nephin Mór. I suggested that perhaps they would consider renaming the peak after me. She smiled as she lied that she would ask someone to look into it… “

Many thanks to Steve for this guest blogpost. Read the Addergoole Titanic Society’s website.

Hiking Nephin Mór

Nephin may be hiked from several spots, but I always choose to climb it along the rim of the great northern corrie. Find my next guided hike up. Up and down in a loop usually takes around 5 hours.

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Mayo as Green Walking Holiday Destination

Ecotourism in Mayo | Guided walking holidays

Cong Lakes Walks - May Bank Holiday Wekend 2011

The value of anything a Green Party representative says in the current circumstances, where the party faces wipe-out in the upcoming election, has to be questioned. Nevertheless, it is nice to see them talk up Mayo’s wonderful rural tourism and walking holiday product offer.

According to them, Mayo can be Ireland’s number one destination for green holidays and ecotourism. I agree wholeheartedly. The statement, which also mentions food tourism, continues that “the area where tourism is growing is in the activity, environmental and cultural sectors. Mayo’s magnificent natural environment is a haven for eco and adventure tourism.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Mind you, the statement, as reported, then gets a black mark, in my view, when it goes on to mention creating walkways and cycle trails “along existing rural roads”. Ouch ! No thank you. Walking on roads, no matter how rural and unused, is of very little interest at all. It is quality we need to offer.

So what do we have ? Well, for starters, there’s the Greenway cycle and walking trail, soon to be open from Westport to Achill along its full 42 km off-road route. Then we have Erris, with its wonderful cliff-top walks. We have the Coillte managed native forest regeneration project site at Clonbur and Cong, where non-native conifers have been removed to allow the recolonisation by our native oaks, hazel and ash.

We have The Bangor Trail, the wildest and finest old track in the country. We have the fabulous Nephin Beg Mountains, so remote, wild, wet and wonderful. In the south, we have Mweelrea, Connacht’s highest peak and its awesome views all around, over the Atlantic and Killary Harbour.

We have cycle hire, sea kayaking, wind surfing, kite surfing, sailing, curragh racing, duathlons, triathlons, orienteering, Gaelforce West. We have scuba diving, sea angling, environmentally serious hotels and B&Bs, etc, etc.

This is Mayo – come check us out.

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Come to Mayo in 2011

Walking holidays, Tourism Pure Walking Holidays, Mayo, Ireland

This is Mayo

I’d like to wish you all a very happy 2011 and hope that you will make it over to wonderful, wild Mayo this year.

Apart from my own guided walking holidays and one-day hiking event options, I would encourage you to come visit Mayo for the great outdoors, whatever your taste may be. Having slumbered for years as a tourist destination, this county has really woken up over the last while.

Mayo is home to the huge annual event that is GaelForce West – http://www.gaelforceevents.com/west/

Westport held its first Get Out There adventure festival in 2010 –http://westportadventurefestival.com/

But Mayo is also home to wonderful outdoors activity providers, such as these guys –

http://www.irelandwestseakayaking.com/

http://www.clewbayoutdoors.com/

http://www.electricescapes.ie/

http://www.elementskitesurfing.com/

And don’t forget – 2011 will see the extension of the Cycleway / Greenway all the way up to Achill and back to Westport, giving Mayo a best-of-breed 42 km entirely off-road linear trail for cycling and walking.

So whether it’s walking / hiking, kayaking, cycling or other outdoor pursuits you are into, make Mayo your destination in 2011. You’ll be welcome.

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