Fionn Mc Cumhaill
Another legend relating to the Omeath area is that of the giant Fionn Mc Cumhaill who fought across Carlingford Lough with Thresher the black enemy of the human race. It is reputed that Fionn picked up the Cloch Mor stone which weighed in excess of 50 tonnes and threw it across the lough. The stone landed on Thresher and killed him. However, the strain was too much for Fionn and he fell back and died. His profile can now be seen in the mountains overlooking Omeath and the Cloch Mor stone can be seen on the opposite side of the lough.
The story of the Long Woman’s Grave
Conn O Hanlon “Ceann of Omeath Mara” died rather suddenly and on his death bed he told his eldest son Conn to divide his lands with his younger brother Lorcan. Conn replied that he would bring his younger brother to a height and give him all the land as far as he could see. The father was happy that all the land would be fairly divided when he had died. When Conn the elder died much to the surprise and disgust of Lorcan, the younger Conn brought him to a great Lug or hollow high up in the mountains at Aenagh where it is impossible to see more than a few yards around the black hollow. He said, “as far as you can see is yours” laughing. As you can imagine Lorcan was far from pleased but he also owned a splendid boat and with this he started to trade to the East, running some profitable cargoes and he started making plenty of money from these ventures abroad. On one of these trading trips to Cadiz in Spain he had the good fortune to meet a Spanish Grandee and her daughter. He saved the ladies when they were sailing in their pleasure yacht. When they returned to the shore the Grandee held a banquet in honour of Lorcan. Lorcan was extolled by the ladies and their guests for his bravery but especially so by his daughter who was extremely grateful for the rescue.
Lorcan and the tall Spanish lady seemed enchanted with each other from the beginning. She was seven feet tall, only three inches smaller than Lorcan. He learned from her that her father’s people were of the royal line of Spain. Her mother was one of the princely O Donnells a branch of which had long been settled in Spain. Her mother’s Christian name was Cauthleen, a name which the daughter also bore.
Lorcan boasted about his wealth back home. He said that he could stand on a great height and for as far as he could see the land was his. Cauthleen was impressed by this and being totally besotted with her Lorcan declared his love far her and offered to leave his mercantile career behind and take her home and settle down.
Cauthleen gladly accepted but her father dissented as she had already been engaged to a Spanish nobleman. The couple united in secret and set sail for Ireland. They arrived in Lough Carlinn, sailed up the Lough and cast anchor in Omeath. The natives were impressed with Lorcans wife as she was very well dressed and her jewelry was very striking but it was her extraordinary height that generated most attention.
She was taken aback by the beauty of the area and was eager to see the lands of Lorcan. At last she reached the hollow in the rocks. Lorcan told her exactly what Conn had told him “That he owned the land as far as you can see”. She was so disappointed and without she fell forward, suffered a heart attack and died. Lorcan was so much in love with his bride and felt so badly with the part he had played in her death that he ran wildly up the steep path to the bog of Aennagh and flung himself into the bog.
The natives who were awaiting the Long Woman to return became anxious and went in search of the couple. They came upon her body in the enclosure of the rocks but they never found Lorcan dead or alive. They dug a grave for Cauthleen and buried her where she lay in Lug Bhan Fada. Each native cast a stone on top to raise her burial cairn and this can still be seen in the mountains overlooking Omeath today.
The landscape around this popular tourist attraction is quite unique as although the area is situated in the scenic Cooley Mountains it is impossible to see more than a few acres because of the depression in which the area is situated. The bog of Aennagh is seen as a habitat for many different types of flora and fauna as it is situated almost on top of the mountain yet it has all the characteristics of a low lying bog.
Other more recent history in the area includes the mass rock in Ardaghy. This exists from the penal times when priests under the death penalty had to say their daily mass from a rock in the open air. This is a reminder of the religious hardship which affected our forefathers. A cross can still be seen on this mass rock.
In this bog high up on the mountains turf cutting still goes on. For many years horse and carts transported the turf around towns and villages in North Louth. The loads were transported around the road known as the New Line and over Tullagh Bridge, which was built during famine times by local craftsmen who were paid the price of one penny per day for their labour. This bridge has stood the test of time and can still be seen high in the mountains overlooking Omeath.
The Hurling match of Bavan Meadow
The Hurling match of Bavan Meadow, Omeath, circa 1750
by Niall Óg Mac Murchaidh
Bhí sé feara deag de scafairí Ómeith
Is iad ag iomáin ar léana an Bhábhúin,
Ó mhullaigh an mheáin lae go cromadh dubh do ghréin,
‘S char chuir siad ar aon taobh an báire.
Gach branán barrúil éachtach a’ baineadh leis an liathroid,
Ag imeacht mar bheadh gaoth rua Mhárta ann;
‘S níl aon ríon faoin ghréin a cífeadh orthu radharc
Nach dtuitfeadh in aon sméideadh i ngrá leo.
Bhí ógfhear gasta stuama d’aicme d’fhíor-fhuil Ruairc ann,
Ba scáfnta mo ghruagach ar léana;
Bhí mac an tí seo thuas ann, is dá rachaidís chun tuatacht,
Ar dheis no ar chlé go mbuailfeadh sé an liathróid.
Nuair a thógtaí an balla uathu leanaidís fear a fhuadaigh,
‘S níorbh fhollain ‘thiocfadh uathu don réim sin;
Ba aolbhinn’s ba suáilceach bheith ar chnoc na Tulcha an uairsin
Ag amharc ar mo chuid buachaill á dtréanáil.
híí ógfhear de chlanna Néill ann – ‘chóir a bheith i dtús an scéil seo
Ba ch’iste bhuailfeadh an liathróid i mbéal báire;
Is Ó Casalaigh na dhiaidh ní ba dual ó fhréamh.
Is an balla leis ‘sna beanna a bhfágáil.
Bhí sár-mhac Chuarta ar léim ann a bhuailfeadh poc in am feidhme
Is a rachadh amach cúl éaga le rása;
Siud Ó hIr ina aghaidh mar Oscar in am ghéibhinn,
Is bhuailfeadh ‘steach sa léana gan spás é.
English version – Translated by Peadar Ó Dubhda
‘Twas on Bavan-meadow Green that our lads a choice sixteen
Of Omeath’s athletic team, were football playing,
Where, from noon the game went on ’til old Sol was set and gone,
Yet no score, not even one, by either claiming.
Two well matched teams in action full of dash and fearless tacklin’
In their pace no gale of March-wind could o’ertake them,
And of all those maidens fair who came just to stand and stare,
None but felt a heart-beat quare, in admiration.
Now to mention every name and each man, in this great game
I should like to do that same, with much affection,
Young O’Neill would be the first, for the ball he never missed,
With his foot or fist he’d shoot in true direction,
Then big Sár Ma’ Cuarta tall see him jumpin’ for the ball!
Head and shoulders over all, like Fionn the giant;
And the two O’Murley Boys, swift as swallows in the skies,
With O’Hagan brothers vying to outshine them.
Standing ready in the goals is wee O’Duffy on his toes,
Like Setanta facing foes on Eamain Macha;
While O’Morgan and O’Hare, two full backs beyond compare,
Overthrow all daring efforts to get past them.
And the boys up in the ruck O’Hanlon, Cassley and O’Ruarc
Where the tussle for possession is a hard one,
Till O’Conn’ly’s quick snatch grips the ball and in a flash
Sends it soaring high and far across the Bavan.
(sos) How pleasant to be her on Hill of Tullach,
Where the scene below delights the eye:
Calm Loch reflecting, clear, bold Beanna Boirce,
As we watch our gallant youths in manly exercise