By ELEANOR MCGILLIE 14 May, 2018

The sun was out and there were little to no clouds in the sky. The only thing to do was put the dog in the boot, the six year old in the car and head out exploring. Our latest adventure wasn’t too far from home. Eleanor McGillie heads across the countryside to Augher to explore Knockmany Woods. 

We’ve all heard the saying Augher, Clogher, Fivemiletown, Six Mile Cross and Seven Mile Round. It’s from an Irish song called the Fivemiletown Rhyme. It’s what I think about when I think of Augher and it rolls off the tongue so easily.

But, after Saturday morning’s visit, what will spring to mind is not an Irish rhyme but instead I’ll be thinking about legendary giants, folklore, woods, forests, bluebells, smells, mountain bike trails, walking trails, streams, steep climbs, busy bees, friendly locals, a very happy Springer Spaniel and a very tired six-year-old.

But it was a 25 minute drive worth doing because even on the drive from Augher to Knockmany Wood, I knew by the surrounding countryside that we would be in for a special treat.

I had heard of Knockmany before but it was only recently again that the lovely Valerie Breen reminded me about it. Valerie lives close by Knockmany so it’s a regular walk for her and her dogs.

The place is stunning. Suitable for power walkers, fantastic for family walks, great for biking and seemingly there are a few picnic spots along the way. But as first timers, we weren’t too sure where to go  so it was a case of trial and error. There are so many pathways in this fantastic place and they’re all really good so excellent for walking and bikes.

Knockmany Wood Live It Experience It adventures

But it’s a place which is steeped in folklore.

Knockmany or Cnoc mBaine means Hill of Baine. It’s reputed to be the home of  the legendary giant Fin M’Coul and his wife Oonagh and it was said to be here that he defeated his foe – the giant Cucullin.

I grew up just outside Dungannon and never once heard the story about the Legend of Knockmany until I carried out a bit of research after we climbed it on Saturday.

To paraphrase, it turns out that Fin and his men were all working at the Causeway in order to make a bridge across to Scotland. Fin took it into his head he would go home to see his wife Oonagh so he pulled up a fir tree and after chopping off the branches, he made a walking stick out of it and headed home to Knockmany to see Oonagh.

Fin lived at the top of Knockmany which faces Cullamore on the opposite side. But, he wasn’t the only legendary giant around at the time for Cucullin was also around. But he had given every other giant in Ireland a good beating and he set out to prove his weight and might on Fin. Cucullin’s reputation proceeded him. But Fin had heard that his foe was coming to the Causeway for a test of strength.

People seemingly often wondered why Fin set up his home at the top of Knockmany but the reason seemed to be so he could keep a look out for his foe on his approach.

And when the day came that Cucullin ventured to Knockmany to have it out with Fin, through sheer trickery Cucullin was defeated. It’s an incredible story. You can read the full tale Here!

Knockmany Wood Bluebells

What a fantastic story. And one which children in our schools should learn about. This magical tale being great meaning to the Knockmany Hill. Not only that but the wildlife is spectacular.

The floor of bluebells is so pretty and the smell is amazing. As you walk along you can hear what you imagine 20,000 bees to sound like. The buzzing is so loud and echoes all around. Buzzards fly overhead and you hear all sorts of birds.

We met some lovely local people – just a few. But apart from that we pretty much had this very special place to ourselves.

No matter where you are in Northern Ireland, this is worth the journey. For local people like myself – how lucky are we to have this on our doorstep?

Ruins at Knockmany

There are trails, but, maybe me just being me, as first timers here, we really had no clue which path to take and where it would lead us. But, the next time I go it will be with my mountain bike and I’ll explore it further.

I knew this place was special, but, add the tale of Fin M’Coul and Cucullin to the experience, this really is something else. It’ll not be long before we return.

This is one place which would be amazing if there was a guided tour available.

If you’re interested in going here is an information board in the car park which details the red and black trails.

RED TRAIL

BLACK TRAIL

Enjoy!

Live It Experience It’ is a group of journalists and travel writers who tell the story of our members. We work  collaboratively with our members, which are tourism businesses, to promote Northern Ireland through water, air and land based activities, food and drink and great places to stay. Together we let our visitors know of all of the amazing things Northern Ireland has to offer.  To become a member business in of ‘Live It Experience It’ call our office on 028 3756 8436 or please submit your information through our online form. T&Cs apply –  Sign Up Here Let us tell your story! Live It Experience It is the NW200 tourism partner for 2018. 

 

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Eleanor McGillie

About Eleanor McGillie

Eleanor spent eight years working in the south west of England - one of the UK's most popular tourism hotspots. During her stint working with key players in the tourism sector she developed a love for all things outdoor adventure. As a journalist she got to travel to remote corners of the world to write travel features about the experiences of a particular place. Northern Ireland's story needs to be told and needs to reach new audiences. Live It Experience It aims to attract tourists from outside Ireland, people from Ireland and people who live in Northern Ireland but aren't aware of the extent of the adventures on our own doorsteps.