Below is just a snapshot of what the area has to offer in terms of history and heritage. Our committee aims to explore, celebrate and preserve this for future generations. We welcome any information, artefacts and discussion on the information below and anything else which may be of interest.
You can learn lots more about this area by doing our self-driving tour which you can access here.
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Friends of Sliabh Fuait
The Fews Forest – Na Feá
Sliabh Fuait is surrounded by the Fews Forest which is separated by the Armagh to Dundalk road. During Penal times, the Fews forest and the Armagh to Dundalk Road (which ultimately led to Dublin) was notorious for rapparees, tories and highwaymen.
The term rapparee refers to any of the dispossessed native Irish who employed guerrilla methods to resist the English from the time of the English Civil Wars (1642–51) and more especially after the regular Irish army had surrendered in the Jacobite war (1689–91) in Ireland. They were termed rapparees after their weapons, short pikes (Irish: rápaire).
They could also be called Tóraí or Tóraidhe which comes from the Irish word ‘tóir’ which means to pursue. John Johnson was the Constable of the Fews from 1710, he was well-known for his cruelty, hated by many, and a notorious tory hunter which gave rise to the local refrain of: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews save us from Johnston King of the Fews”.
The Children of Lir – Clann Lir
One of the most famous stories of Irish mythology, the four children of King Lear were turned into swans for 900 years by their stepmother Aoife. Each 300 years was spent on a different lake, one of which was Tullynawood Lake, a beautiful lake in the Sliabh Fuait area where the Callan River rises and flows to Armagh. It is believed that the children of Lir are buried on the banks of Tullynawood.
St Patrick and the Bull – Naomh Pádraig agus an Tarbh
It is believed that St. Patrick initially intended to build his Cathedral at the summit of Carrickatuke in what is now known as the townland of Armaghbreague (hence the name Ard Mhacha Bréige or false Armagh). Unfortunately, at the same time the Cattle Raid of Cooley between Queen Maeve of Connaught and King Conchúr of Ulster was taking place.
The much sought-after brown bull made its way to Carrickatuke where it encountered St. Patrick and destroyed his partly-built Cathedral. St. Patrick was angered and threw the bull from the summit of Carrickatuke to where it landed at the Bull’s Track and left the imprints of its hooves, where they still can be seen until this day. Link to song- the chair at the top of the Breague
Carrickatuke was a place of significance in pre-Christian times. As the highest point in the area it was where the Celtic feast days of Lúnasa, Samhain, Imbolc and Bealtaine were celebrated and, more recently, Blaeberry Sunday. Carrickatuke is mentioned in the Gaelic song An Chailleach Riabhach, beautifully sung here by Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin.
The Grey Stone of Corran – Cloch Mhór Liath an Chorráin
Corran is a townland in Co. Armagh and, although it is thought that the townland name derives from the Irish corrán meaning ‘sickle’, there is another possible explanation. The townland is the location of a possible votive site and a collection of gold, antique gems, ornaments and jewellery were found deposited with an otherwise unidentified burial. Within the townland there is also a standing stone referred to as the grey stone which is associated with the legend of St. Patrick and the bull, and reputedly marks the burial site of the bull. This local information might indicate that this townland derives from carn, a reference to this very burial site.
The Granemore Hare – Giorria na Gráinsí Móire
Hunting is a popular sport in Armagh and the Sliabh Fuait area was a very popular spot for hunters and their hounds on a Sunday. This practice has been immortalised in the folk song, ‘The Granemore Hare’. – link to song
The Linen Industry – Tionscal an Línéadaigh
The landscape of Sliabh Fuait is dotted with beetling, scutching and bleaching mills which hark back to the flax industry which was once so prevalent here, thanks to the water power of the Callan river. At one time a man called William Kirk had three mills in operation and hundreds of people were employed by him either directly or indirectly. Because of this, local people collected money in order to build the monument in the centre of Keady in his honour.
Placenames – Logainmneacha
Ireland is unique to any other county in the world in that it has a land division known as townlands. Almost all of our townlands are derived from Irish and tell us a huge amount about who lived in the area (Ballybrolly), the landscape (Dún Droma-Dundrum-The Fort of the Ridge) and how the language itself was spoken.
There are almost 1000 townlands in Armagh. Friends of Sliabh Fuait hope to do a lot more work on them but a good resource in the meantime is the Ulster Placenames Society (co-founded by Keady Gaelic scholar Seán Mac Airt) or www.logainm.ie where you can search a database of townland and barony names.
www.orielarts.com This website is the result of years of research by The Oriel Arts Project, documenting and recording the songs and music tradition of the oriel area.
https://www.ringofgullion.org/ Find out about the history and environment in the Ring of Gullion area beside us.
http://www.ofiaich.ie/ The Cardinal Ó Fiaiach Library, Armagh is a free independent library and archive situated in Armagh, the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland. It houses a number of specialist collections of national and international interest.
Irish and Local Studies Library, Armagh This large Cultural Heritage collection is located in the former Armagh Infirmary in Abbey Street. It covers all aspects of Irish life and learning with particular emphasis on County Armagh. It includes books, journals, directories, newspapers, maps and photographs.
www.reactni.org React is a community organisation based in Armagh City promoting reconciliation and cross-community work. They often run courses on local and Irish history which are in great demand.
Monaghan, William (2014), The History of Darkley
Paterson, TGF (1975), The Harvest Home
Ní Uallacháin, Pádraigín (2003), A Hidden Ulster – People, Songs and Traditions of Oriel
Cadwallader, Anne (2013), Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland
Help us realise the potential of Sliabh Fuait in a way which benefits the local community, by raising awareness of the history, beauty and natural resources of the area.
Our vision is a Sliabh Fuait that is a vibrant, attractive and welcoming area with high civic pride where culture, history and heritage is celebrated and preserved.
Play your part!