Mourne: Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Perched on the Southeast Coast of Northern Ireland, Mourne AONB Has Been Selected as the Territory's First Prospective Candidate for National Park Status. Jo Sargent Visited the Region to Find out Why

By Sargent, Jo | Geographical, March 2007 | Go to article overview

Mourne: Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Perched on the Southeast Coast of Northern Ireland, Mourne AONB Has Been Selected as the Territory's First Prospective Candidate for National Park Status. Jo Sargent Visited the Region to Find out Why


Sargent, Jo, Geographical


Looking out over the Irish Sea from the coastal path at Bloody Bridge, the slopes of Slieve Donard rearing up behind me, it already seems pretty clear why the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is being considered for national park status. For although there are dark clouds overhead and it has been raining since dawn, not even the gloomy January weather can detract from the sheer splendour of the Mourne landscape.

Founded in 1966, Mourne AONB encompasses 570 square kilometres of farmland, grassland, forest, moors and coastal vegetation. Its heathland is considered to be among the UK's finest, while the saltmarsh at Carlingford Lough is the largest in Northern ireland. But undoubtedly the biggest draw for visitors is the mountain chain that straddles the region.

Covered in pines and gorse, the Mourne Mountains roll out across the landscape like a mottled green serpent, and the chains' highest peaks are regularly shrouded in mist. Formed 56 million years ago, the closely grouped peaks create a compact ring of 12 summits, stretching 24 kilometres from Newcastle to Rostrevor and sweeping down to the sea at either end. At 852 metres, Slieve Donard (slieve is the Irish word for mountain) is Northern Ireland's highest peak, but all of the mountains offer spectacular views when the clouds finally lift.

People originally settled in the area around 6,000 years ago, and they've been making their mark ever since. The landscape that's visible today is primarily the result of centuries-old agricultural practices. Early farmers in the region had the unenviable task of removing the hundreds of glacial erratics and granite boulders that peppered the uncultivated ground, but the stones didn't go to waste, being built into the walls that still mark out farm boundaries.

"The walls in Mourne are one of its most notable features," says National Trust property manager Dave Thomson. "The stones are huge, and the walls were made with sheer muscle and ingenuity. It says something about Mourne men really--you get the impression that the walls were actually built by giants."

Once cleared, the soil itself presented further problems for farmers; Mourne is primarily made up of acidic, free-draining land. The solution was found along the seashore, in the form of seaweed farming on 'wrack beds'. Farmers would bring large boulders down to the beach and place them in rows along the tide line. Once seaweed began to grow on them, the farmers harvested it on the incoming tide, so that whatever was cut away from the rocks was swept inland. The seaweed was then taken to the fields, dried out and mixed with lime to create a fertiliser that helped reduce the soil's acidity.

Although the wrack beds lie fallow these days, Mourne's coastline serves another, equally important economic purpose, pulling in more than 100,000 tourists every year. Stretching 72 kilometres from Dundrum Inner Bay at Ardilea, along to Narrow Water at Warrenpoint, it encompasses the entire northern shore of Carlingford Lough (a Site of Special Scientific Interest) and Murlough National Nature Reserve, home to a 4,000-year-old dune system. Formed by retreating ice sheets at the end of the last ice age, the dunes here were considerably reshaped in the mid-medieval period, when the greater part of Europe's weather system changed to become more energetic. Much of the sediment in the bay was reworked, helping to create some of Northern Ireland's biggest classically crescent shaped dunes.

The climate in Mourne is a strange mixture of extremes. The mountains produce some of the country's wettest and windiest weather, while the coast, a mere few miles away, has some of the warmest and sunniest. Considering that almost all of the extreme rainfall figures for Northern Ireland have been recorded in the Mourne Mountains, it's hardly surprising that the region is of vital importance to the country's water supply.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Mourne: Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Perched on the Southeast Coast of Northern Ireland, Mourne AONB Has Been Selected as the Territory's First Prospective Candidate for National Park Status. Jo Sargent Visited the Region to Find out Why
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.