Landscape and Heritage


The Ring of Gullion is alive with history, awash in scenic beauty and bursting with culture

People have inhabited the Ring of Gullion AONB since just after the end of the last Ice Age, their lives have been shaped by the unique landscape and its underlying geology. In the same way, they have shaped the land with agriculture and industry. The stories of ancient traditions, lost religions and power struggles are written across the mountains, drumlins, and plains.

The landscape displays the relics of giants, druids and early saints. The passage of time is marked with Neolithic megaliths and cairns, frontier hill forts and earthen ramparts, Christian crosses and holy wells, the graves of Ireland’s earliest saints and monastic ruins, and the compelling story of St. Patrick, St. Bridid and St. Moninna.

Intangible Cultural Heritage

The breath taking landscape of Ring of Gullion AONB has been an inspiration to artists, poets and musicians throughout the ages. This can be heard in the music festivals throughout the summer and also in local village “sessions” every week as musicians come to practice and perform. Traditional instruments such as the Uilleann Pipe and Harp are played here, the skill passed down through generations.

Legends have grown up around geological features of the landscape, Fionn MacCumhaill is credited with getting his white head of hair here after being tricked by the Cailleach Berra on the summit of Slieve Gullion. The Celtic epic “Tain Bo Cuillangne” or the Cattle Raid of Cooley is set in the hills of south Armagh and north Louth and features the ancient hero Cúchulainn. The last of the Ulster poets, Art Mac Cooey, is buried at Creggan graveyard and more recently, local writer Michael J Murphy started recording local customs and traditions in Ring of Gullion and ended up with one of the largest collections of oral tradition in the English-speaking world.

The story of our agricultural, maritime and industrial heritage is a tapestry of fields, stone walls, and farming rich villages. Built heritage of linen and corn mills, the railway and canal and stately homes are all testament to the generations that have built upon the geology they found here. Today this rich tapestry of myths and maritime heritage is still with us – in our music, our arts, our museums, and in the words of our poets.

Sign up and stay up to date with our newsletter.

Sign up to ensure that you don’t miss out on any Ring of Gullion, Strangford Lough & Lecale Partnership, and Mourne Mountains Heritage Trust news and events!

Related Posts

Landscape & Heritage

Built Heritage

The built heritage in the Ring of Gullion is world-renowned. The Ring of Gullion contains the remains of 20 or so large stone tombs. Many of them such as Ballymacdermot...

Landscape & Heritage

ASSI’s in the Ring of Gullion

Below are listed both the geology and biodiversity Areas of Special Scientific Interest in south Armagh. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency holds the latest site related documents; site maps, citations,...