South Armagh & Ring of Gullion


South County Armagh, with its beautiful undulating countryside lies to the west of Newry. The drumlin landscape around Crossmaglen and the legendary Ring of Gullion are steeped in Celtic mythology and this area is famed for its rich cultural heritage and the numerous prehistoric and early Christian sites.

The striking landscape of the Ring of Gullion is the result of the unique geology of the area. A ring of igneous rock has resulted in a distinctive range of peaks and the area is scattered with small farmsteads and historic monuments. This magical landscape has been illustrated through the ages in local literature, poetry, music, history and art. Traditions and cultural heritage are very evident in every day life.


Bessbrook, Newry Tel: 028 3083 8361

A National Trust Property, Derrymore House is an elegant thatched cottage that stands amid a picturesque landscape estate less than two miles from Newry. Derrymore House is where the Act of Union was drafted.


Slate Quarry Road, Cullyhanna Tel: 028 3086 8757

Opening times: Mon-Fri 2.00 pm — 5.00 pm Sat & Sun by appointment only.
Photographs and memorabilia can be found in this centre. You can listen to songs and poems from South Armagh. Research library and archives for students and adults.


89 Dromintee Road , Newry Tel: 028 3755 2154

Slieve Gullion Forest Park covers an area of some 1000 hectares (2500 acres), and offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. The Courtyard is the starting point for a 10km scenic drive around the forest park with its wonderful views. A new Adventure Park was officially opened on Monday 18th June 2012 beside the courtyard.


The Ring of Gullion Way provides an outstanding backdrop for walkers of all types. It follows a series of minor roads and off road tracks around the spectacular volcanic landscape in this area of outstanding natural beauty. For a leaflet on the The Ring of Gullion Way please contact Newry Tourist Information Centre. Tel: 028 3031 3170.

BALLYMOYER FOREST (near Newtownhamilton)

Tel. The Argory 028 8778 4753

Once the demesne of the Synnott family, a wealthy family of linen merchants this wooded glen was one of the first properties to be donated to the National Trust. The castle no longer stands but the wood offers pleasant meandering woodland trails through this pretty glen.


Believed to be the mythical home of King Lir, Carrickatuke Mountain is now covered with dense coniferous forestry plantations. A well signposted viewpoint offers a superb perspective of the South Armagh landscape. The adjoining Fews Forest, another coniferous plantation is ideal for a leisurely stroll, walks along the trails or just merely the scenery.


Tel. 028 3088 8828

Ti Chulainn Cultural Activity Centre is set in the heart of the ring of Gullion- a unique geological formation of hills and rugged mountains encircling Slieve Gullion, which has been, officially designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The area is steeped in natural history, with visible traces of over 6,000 years of habitation retrained in it’s ancient burial cairns and stone monuments. Lying on the historical boundary between Ulster and Leinster, this traditional meeting places of peoples has kept its long traditions of music, song, dance, Irish language, folklore and history.


The Craigmore Viaduct which was built in the years 1851-1852 is an eighteen arch viaduct which sweeps across the Camlough river. It is also known as the 18 arches. The viaduct is just under a quarter of a mile in length and consists of the finest granite from the surrounding countryside.


Open daily all year round. Admission free.

Not far from Jonesboro lies the ruins of Moyry Castle built in the 17th Century to guard the gap of the north. It is a familiar land mark from the Belfast/Dublin railway. The Castle was built by Mountjoy in 1601 to secure the vital ‘gap of the north’. It was built on a natural rocky hillock by Lord Mountjoy to secure the ancient route from Ulster, the Castle is a three story tower with rounded corners and gun loops. Overlooking the pass and close by is the railway line to Dublin, built in 1852, also, using the ancient natural route from Ulster.


Open daily all year round. Admission free.

The Kilnasaggart Stone thought to be one of Irelands oldest Christian monuments is situated close to Jonesboro. This stone was originally a pagan monument which was adopted by Christians. Clearly visible is it’s Ogham writing and it is dated around 700AD making it the earliest dated cross-carved stone in Ireland.


The Killeavy Castle is close to the Slieve Gullion Courtyard. Killeavy Church is the site of one of Irelands most important early convents founded by St Mo-Ninne in the 5th Century. Although plundered by the Vikings in 923; monastic life continued by Augustinian Nuns until 1542. In earlier times it was a place of pilgrimage and miraculous cures were attributed to a nearby well.


This is located in a isolated Forest area close to Cullyhanna. It is described by Historic Monuments as “one of the finest examples in the north”.


Ballykeel Portal Tomb is a striking monument in an attractive setting near Lislea in the centre of South Armagh.


Photo by Alan Hopps

Is located near Newry on a site which offers excellent views of the surrounding countryside.


This is another striking feature of the Neolithic legacy of South Armagh which is known locally as The King’s Ring.


A visit to Ballykeel Dolmen is a must when visiting Mullaghbawn which was also the home of Art Bennett, a Gaelic poet and scholar. This is an outstanding example of a Portal Tomb situated South West of Camlough at the Western foot of Slieve Gullion. The Dolmen is formed of two portal stones with a sill between and a lower backbone supporting a huge capstone.


Located in a spectacular setting on the summit of Slieve Gullion this is the highest surviving passage grave in the British Isles and has been described as the finest example of a passage Grave in Northern Ireland. Striking views of the area can be enjoyed, and a round Cairn, known as Slieve Gullion North Cairn, can also be seen.


It is located to the east where you will find the remains of a grave.This was much denuned in the 19th Century when it’s stones were used to build Kileavy Castle.

A rare Iron Age Relic is found in South Armagh in the form of The Dorsey, which is two roughly parallel massive earth bank and ditch ramparts over a mile long which lie astride an old route way to Navan Fort near Armagh. Recent evidence dates part of the Dorsey to around 100 BC.

Significant features of early Christian times can be found throughout the area in the forms of Raths and Cashels.

Significant features of early Christian times can be found throughout the area in the forms of Raths and Cashels.