The Mountains of Mourne are hands-down the most spectacular mountains in Ireland. The mountain range is located in Northern Ireland in County Down, specifically in South Down. The best way to reach the Mourne Mountains is to head down to the seaside resort of Newcastle. This exquisitely-located, bustling little town serves as a great home base for mountain expeditions. The Mournes are the most frequently visited and hiked mountains in Northern Ireland.
The land on the south side of the mountains is known as the Kingdom of Mourne. Due to its isolated location, the kingdom developed a distinct culture and society. The region’s main industries were farming, fishing, and granite. The Mournes are some of the best granite mountains in Ireland, and granite quarries were a huge part of the Kingdom of Mourne economy. Mourne granite can be found throughout Ireland and England, including Belfast, Liverpool, London, and Manchester.
The rugged, granite peaks of the Mourne Mountains add a majestic element to the surrounding golden beaches, deep forests, and emerald fields. The beauty of the mountains was immortalized in one of WIlilam Percy French’s songs. French, an Irish songwriter, wrote the song with a chorus of “Where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.” The Mourne Mountains of Ireland have actually been internationally recognized as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The mountains boast better hiking, rock-climbing, and walking than found at any of the other Northern Ireland Mountains. Some well-known mountains include Slieve Donard, Slieve Lamagan, and Slieve Muck. Slieve is from the Irish word ‘sliabh,’ meaning mountain. Besides visits to these majestic Ireland mountains, tourists can trek up to the Mourne Wall, a man-made, dry-stone wall built between 1904 and 1922. The reason for its construction was to provide work during a period of high unemployment. The wall is 2 m high, a meter thick, and over 35 km long, and it lies across the summits of 15 of the surrounding peaks.
In the center of the Mourne Mountains of Ireland, weary travelers can rest at the stunning Silent Valley Reservoir. Formed by the damming of the Kilkeel River so as to provide Belfast with water, the Reservoir has scenic walks, a pleasant coffee shop, and a shuttle bus service that can take people up the valley to the Crom Dam.
During at trip to this region, visitors can also enjoy cycling, golf, horseback riding, fishing, and helicopter rides. Several parks and natural attractions are located near the Mountains of Mourne. The Castlewellan Forest Park is a good choice for beginning hikers and campers, with gentle walks, brilliant castles, and excellent trout fishing in its shimmering lake. Equestrians, both beginners and experienced riders, can arrange for beach and forest horseback trips at the Mount Pleasant Horse Trekking Centre.
In Newcastle and the Mourne Mountains, there are a number of accommodations available. New Youth Hostel is centrally situated, and the Beach House is a delightful Victorian Bed and Breakfast just opposite the beach. Several other B&Bs and hotels are located in the center and outskirts of Newcastle. Camping is always popular, especially in summer months. The Tollymore Forest Park, with tent and caravan sites, is located about 3 km northwest of Newcastle.
The Mourne Mountains of Ireland offer a breathtakingly beautiful combination of sand, surf, meadow, and mountain. The Mournes are the most famous of the Ireland Mountains and visitors can hike, climb, golf, fish, horseback ride, and simply soak in the superb natural views of these jagged peaks rising high above shimmering seas and fields.