King John’s Castle

King John’s Castle

Louth is home to a barometrical point of interest, King John’s Castle, on the southern shores of Carlingford Lough. Forged from the Hillside by Hugh de Lacy, this interesting stronghold offers dazzling perspectives over the Lough towards the Mourne Mountains and the local legend has it that King John decided to stay here instead of Belfast for approximately three days in 1210 AD.

The first stronghold that was built was comprised of an encased yard with two rectangular towers at the passageway and had two story structures inside. The eastern portion of the château was then added in 1261 AD and incorporated various rooms and likely an awesome lobby which would have inspired awe on visitors. There were various modifications made to the building throughout the hundreds of years of its life.

The tower house of the castle was built in two stages, with the more seasoned segment finished in the mid-sixteenth century. The fortified extension was most probably constructed around 50 years after the fact to give all of the inhabitants more living convenience and was most probably completed during the tenture by the Earl of Carlingford, Nicholas Taaffe.

King John’s Castle seems to have stayed in English hands amid the post-medieval period. Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, attempted to take the manor in an unexpected assault in 1596 and the stronghold changed hands a few times over the next hundreds of years. It likewise worked as a doctor’s facility amid the period paving the way to the Battle of the Boyne. Visit this impressive site to see a real bit of Irish history.

Queen Maebh & The Brown Bull of Cooley

Queen Maebh & The Brown Bull of Cooley

Donn Cúailnge, the mythical Brown Bull of Cooley, was the largest, fiercest and most virile bull in Ireland. He roamed the vast forest and mountainside of the Cooley Peninsula and was at the centre of one of the most famous battles in Irish mythology, the Táin Bó Cúailnge, or Cattle Raid of Cooley.

The Táin took place after a jealous argument between Queen Méabh of Connacht and her husband, King Ailill mac Máta. Méabh decided to take the Brown Bull from Ulster to fight against Ailill’s prized White Horned Bull, Fionnbennach.

The legendary Cúchulainn fought his most famous fight trying to protect the Brown Bull. He single-handedly took on Méabh’s army, yet she managed to steal Donn Cúailgne and take him back to Connacht to challenge Fionnbennach.

The two great bulls had a fight to the death that lasted days. After a ferocious battle, Donn Cúailnge finally got the better of Fionnbennach and emerged victorious. Angry at Queen Méabh, he rampaged through her kingdom and then back across Ireland to Cooley. Still maddened with rage, his heart burst and he died.

Yet the spirit of the magnificent Brown Bull still lives on in Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula today.

Fionn mac Cumhaill & Cloughmore Stone

Fionn mac Cumhaill & Cloughmore Stone

Fionn McCool pursued a wild boar across Slieve Foy mountain in Carlingford and slew it. He cooked it on top of the smouldering Volcano that had long since erupted but which still emitted enough heat to cook the unfortunate but delicious hog. He lay down to sleep and woke as the dawn sun began to rise in the Mourne’s, and as he cast his eyes on Carlingford Lough below, a great shadow stretched over the Lough and momentarily blocked out the sun. To his surprise he saw another giant as big as himself, a white shield slung over his shoulder, armed with a mighty sword in one hand and a club in the other.

“Who are you?” shouted Fionn his voice reverberating around the mountains. “I am the cock of the North,” shouted the other giant and he began to crow and flap his elbows like they were wings.”If I go across that Lough, said Fionn, I’ll put the crowing off you mighty quick.”

“Cool down Fionn McCool,” said the other giant. “If you want to know my name, it’s Ruscaire, I am the Giant of Snow and Ice, the enemy of the whole human race, and if it’s fighting you want I’m your man.”

You dare to challenge me said Fionn, I, the Giant of Summer. You may think you have conquered me, you may even hold me prisoner, but in the end I will break out and the whole of nature will rejoice.

There was no escape from battle now, both giants drew their swords, each with one foot in Carlingford Lough, and the other astride the mountains. They fought day and night with swords and on the second day with clubs. On the third morning Ruscaire awoke early from the nights slumber, and while Fionn still slept he crossed the Lough and stole the sword of Fionn. He could have slain him as he slept but he had some honour.

When Fionn awoke and found that his sword was gone and that Ruscaire had taken it, he fell into a great rage, picked up stones and fired them at him across the water. A great battle of stone and rock firing began, thumping down and rocking the very foundations of the mountains. Close to where Fionn stood lay the Cloughmore stone, it weighed nearly 50 tons. With a great effort, Fionn, summonsing all his strength, gathered his great arms around it and hurled it at Ruscaire. It landed on the unfortunates head. It crushed his great body back into the mountain where it melted away like ice beneath the stone.

Fionn overtaxed himself with the mighty effort, he was exhausted and lay down on top of the smouldering volcano to sleep. His head lay at the mountain top and his feet rested in the Lough. Such was his tiredness that he never awakened and as the years passed by, his great body turned to rock, and the outline of his body can be seen to this day.

For those who don’t believe the story, then scientific proof can be had by examining the rocks on Slieve Ban and you will find that they have come from Slieve Foy and Visa Versa.