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Living History in Ring of Gullion

Living History in RoG


The modern spelling of the name of the village is very different from its origin. The correct English spelling is Mullaghbane, but in many places, you will see the spelling as Mullaghbawn. Mullaghbane means a white summit or hilltop, there never was a bawn or fortification.

Points of Interest

1. Cnoc an Mhargaidh
The Market Stone

The Market Stone is a large boulder in Quilly, a subdivision of Shanroe townland. People brought their linen to this stone, on which a rough yard measure is carved, to be sold. Until the cottage linen industry declined in the 1820s, this area was very heavily engaged in processing flax and making and selling linen at small local markets.

According to tradition, Jemmy Hope, Antrim weaver and leading United Irishman, came to the Market Stone to recruit the local Defenders into the United Irishmen. The gathering of rebels was disguised as a linen market. Many such bogus linen markets were used to facilitate political meetings in the lead up to the 1798 rebellion when there was contact between local groups and insurgents in counties Antrim and Down. A local ballad confirms this:

“I stood beside the market stone
That year of ninety-eight
To meet a man from Shelagh
Whose word would carry weight”

However, disappointment was in the air and the news was not good…

“but no man came from Shelagh
Though we got news from Down
Brought by a linen weaver
From Carrickfergus town”

2. Carraig Aifrinn na Ceathramha
Carrive Mass Rock

From the beginning of the English Reformation in the 1530s, laws establishing state-reformed Christianity (eg. Anglicanism in England and Church of Ireland in Ireland) and punishing those who did not conform were passed. In addition to laws against Catholics, there were statutes relating to Jews, Protestant Dissenters (non-Anglicans), and Quakers. During the period of the Irish Penal Laws in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when Catholic clergy were expelled from the country and the celebration of Mass was outlawed, isolated sites like this Mass Rock were used for secret communal worship. “Priest hunters” were employed to arrest unregistered priests and Presbyterian preachers, so a lookout was usually posted to warn of the approach of crown forces. Captured priests faced imprisonment and, on occasion, death.

The slow process of Catholic Emancipation began with the repeal of some of the Penal Laws by the Catholic Relief Acts of 1771, 1778 and 1793. Yet the penal laws were only finally repealed by the Government of Ireland Act in 1920.

In recent years the custom of holding mass on this site has been revived and there is an annual service held here. An interpretation panel on the site gives more information.

Backtrack now to the main Forkill to Mullaghbane Road (Church Rd) again and continue towards Mullaghbane. The church and graveyard are on the right.

3. Teach Pobail an Mhullaigh Bháin áit adhlactha Airt Mhic Bhionaid 1793 – 1879
Mullaghbane Church, burial site of Art Bennett 1793-1879

A previous church stood on this site and was replaced by St Mary’s church built in 1862 which has recently been renovated. In the graveyard look out for the gravestone of the poet, Art Bennet. Art carved his own headstone.

Art Bennett of Ballykeel was a Gaelic poet, scribe and stone mason. He collected, wrote out and preserved much literature of periods before his own and was a dependable judge of that literature, especially of the Ulster Poets of the eighteenth century. His admiration of those writers is shown in the immortal words with which he describes them:

“Where are the floods of honeyed sound
Of the smooth-voiced Ó Doirnín
Mac a Liondain’s cheering words
Or the far-famed Dall Mac Cuarta?”

Art Bennett was born at the end of the decline and fall of the great school of South East Ulster Poets, and this great literary tradition truly died with him. As well as poetry, Art was commissioned by Belfast Gaelic scholar Robert MacAdam to write “A History of Ireland” in the Irish Language. The two men ended up falling out and the book was sadly left incomplete and then lost at a time when it would have been a rich source of the language for the scholars of the Gaelic League era. A draft copy was rediscovered in 1977 when Father Raymond Murray chanced upon the manuscript and happened to recognise Art’s writing. The best known extracts from the text are about the impact of The Irish Famine in the local area. No one knows the whereabouts of the manuscript now, so the mystery of the lost writings continues.

4. Áras Pobail an Mhullaigh Bháin
Mullaghbane community Centre

Mullaghbawn Community Hall is known locally as ‘The Factory’. In 1905, a shirt factory was opened by Mr Charles Mitchell of Messrs. Hogg and Mitchell, Manchester, in the disused Jackson school in Shanroe townland.

The raw materials for the manufacture of the ‘Metropole’ shirt were brought in through Dundalk port and the finished product was transported by cart to the same port. These shirts were exported as far away as South Africa. At its height, the factory employed forty five girls.

Unfortunately, the venture only lasted for a few years but the building was subsequently a national school, a dance hall, a youth hall and the parochial hall.

5. Ionad Gníomhaíochta Chultúrtha Thí Chulainn
TÍ Chulainn Cultural Activity Centre

This unique multi-purpose building, designed by McCusker/Mackle, Belfast, is probably the only centre of its type in Ireland. It combines conference/workshop rooms, an audio visual theatre, an archive room; office spaces, a shop and exhibition area. Tí Chulainn also has catering facilities, a bar and lounge and sixteen hotel standard en-suite bedrooms which can accommodate up to 45 people. The centre is the home of the Michael J. Murphy collection and holds the genealogical records of the Forkhill – Mullaghbane dioceses (open by appointment).

For further information please contact the manager at [email protected] tel 028 30888828.

6. Dolmain an Bhaile Chaoil
Ballykeel Dolmen

In Ballykeel townland (an Baile Caol meaning the narrow townland), you will find a classic example of a dolmen which is a great slab set on three uprights. These stones would originally have been buried at one end of a long cairn of stones and soil. This covering cairn has been stripped away revealing only its foundations.

When this site was investigated in 1963 the back stone or rear support had split and collapsed and the capstone, a granite boulder nine feet by eight feet, lay at an angle. The magnificent capstone was reinstated using a mobile crane and the backstone itself was repaired using special cement. The stone that once sealed the tomb was also pulled back into position. A cist (a type of burial container), had been inserted at the far end of the cairn. Other archaeological finds included Neolithic pottery, flint scrapers and a javelin head.

The site has been fenced and is easily accessible. An illustrated storyboard gives further information.

Mullaghbane Points of Interest Map

Lottery Funded
NIEA DoE N&M DC Biodiversity

Quick Contact

Ring of Gullion AONB
Crossmaglen Community Centre,
O’Fiaich Square,
BT35 9AA.

Tel: +44 (0)330 137 4898


Visitor Servicing and Attractions: 0330 137 4046

for any visitor servicing questions.

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