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Majestic Mourne: the story behind the poem

By Wendy Hanna

My inspiration for Majestic Mourne!

As a child growing up in Kilkeel I was quite oblivious to the surrounding Mourne Mountains. It wasn’t until my thirties I started noticing their beauty whilst taking the kids to football in Ballinran. Big Binnian dominating the skyline. I became curious, could I climb that?

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So one summers day with family in tow we climbed Wee Binnian. That’s where it all started. Perched on top with a picnic and a magnificent view, we were hooked! My children said of all the places they had been this was the best!

As the years passed we explored the Mournes and I felt inspired to capture the feeling on paper. The history, the stories, the beauty. My father in law Stanley gave us plenty of info and direction as he spent a lot of time in the mountains. I used to wonder why but now I know.

I penned Majestic Mourne after chatting to locals who had wonderful insights into the past and the area today: the Mourne Wall, the quarries, the granite, the dams, the workmanship and the hardships. It makes perfect sense now that people flock to the Mournes – being off the beaten track or on the high ground is “halfway to heaven”, and it certainly feels like it.

Majestic Mourne

You’re off to great places, today is your day
The mountains are calling, so be on your way.
There’s no better place than the Kingdom of Mourne
For with natural beauty this land is adorned.
If you dander around the Valley, climb the steps to Ben Crom dam,
You can marvel at the structure, where creation pairs with man.
The vast expanse of water, let’s stop and take it in
The shimmering surface dances, around the overflows brim.
The trees, the streams, the slope so green, the boathouse built in stone,
The walks, the stops, the silence, what a wonderful place to roam.
Come spring, summer, winter or fall, there’s beauty unfolding throughout it all. Perhaps you’ll ramble onward to the famous Mourne Wall.
22 miles of Mourne granite stone, 1.5 metres tall.
And taking 18 years to build, crafted with tremendous skill,
They travelled by foot, for miles and farther
The stone was tough, but the men were harder.
The wall extends over steep mountain faces
Yet no cement was used, only in extreme cases.
And still standing strong, almost 100 years
Not built with machines, but with blood, sweat and tears.
On to Slieve Binnian, standing so high,
You may be relieved to reach the stile.
Ask the ramblers why do you climb?
Well it tests the body, rests the mind.
Let’s fly with the raven for a birds eye view
Over Dunny water where Binnian tunnel runs too.
Past the Brandy Pad where the smugglers walked
What stories?…. if only those hills could talk.
Slieve Donard’s summit, a deafening hush
Time stands still no need to rush.
Absorb the view, take in the sights
And Wow! how Percy French was right!
The well renowned fairways of Royal County Down
On a clear day two yellow giants may be found
If you know where to look, look very hard
Afar off is Harland & Wolfe shipyard.
The quarries on our mountainsides
Once supplied stone both near and worldwide,
Famous monuments have been built on request
With craftsmanship known to be best.
There are many sights in the world to be seen
And we know that far off fields look green
But whether you settle, visit or roam
You’re from a great place if Mourne is your home.

(Video produced in collaboration with Caoimhe Lennon CCL videography)

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2 comments on “Majestic Mourne: the story behind the poem

  1. Pingback: The Devil’s Coachroad – Trekking NI

  2. Pingback: Guiding around Gullion: Des Murphy on the rich mythology of South Armagh – Trekking NI

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