A 2 hour historical and nature ramble, through unspoiled tracks and trails.
It was a glorious early summer morning in May when AnneMarie and myself left Forkhill for Urney Churchyard, the final resting place of Peadar O Doirnin, teacher, poet, and scholar during the 17th century. As ODoirnin is best known for the evocative lyrics of Sean O’Riada’s iconic ‘Mise Eire’ , I was interested to visit this little known graveyard nestling in a valley in north Co. Louth. The anticipation of rambling thru unspoiled country tracks and being immersed in the flora and fauna of the area also held a great attraction.
The 2 hour walk was truly magical… We shortly swapped the main road for a grassy single trail along the Forkhill river, listening to birdsong, and being enveloped by swathes of cow parsley, early foxgloves, and the vivid blues of violets. This was a haven for biodiversity and yes, the smells were glorious. Butterflies were everywhere- we spotted several Cinnabar moths with their vivid red and black markings. We passed a deserted farmhouse, complete with rambling rose gone wild. A herd of cattle approached us curious to know what we were up to. What a feast for the senses!
We moved through the stunning backdrop of the Ring of Gullion, crossing the border from Armagh to Louth until we reached our destination- Urney graveyard. Here our pace slowed down and we spent a reflective 30 minutes checking out the ancient site itself, the burial place of poets, priests,and soldiers. Many locals from Louth, Monaghan and Armagh also rest here with dignity, and a memorial ceremony continues annually The graveyard has many interesting feature, including a granite holy water font and the restored remains of a chapel. Peadar ODoirnin resting place is marked by a carved granite stone, erected in 1969 in his honour.
We were quiet on our return journey through lush countryside, pausing on a grassy knoll for a welcome snack, before completing our return circular journey to Forkhill.
The memory of this immersive walk will stay with me for a long time.
Venora Hovelt and Anne Marie Mulholland are Tour Guides and Ring of Gullion Ambasadors and are available to lead various walks within Covid guidelines throughout the Ring of Gullion area.