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From: Paul Burns <>
Subject: Climbing Benbulben
Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2000 16:22:59 -0400

Benbulben, a mountain whose abrupt sides can be seen from miles
distant, dominates North Sligo. Obviously, one must climb it, but it was
not until late June of this year that one of my visits coincided with
acceptable weather. During the previous week I twice went up Knocknarea,
the flat topped mountain to the west of Sligo town where Queen Maeve of
Connacht allegedly is buried standing upright facing her Ulster enemies
(Archeologists say Queen Maeve’s tomb is 3000 years older than she, but
who is to say that her mourners did not make room for her in an existing
cairn of rocks?)
Knocknarea is easily accessible from a parking lot to its south,
and although the path is steep it is clearly marked. The 30-minute climb
is well worth the effort because of the marvelous views of Ballysadare
bay and the Ox Mountains on the one side, and Sligo Bay and the
mountains of Donegal on the other—with higher Benbulben clearly visible
to the northeast.
Knocknarea was good training for 70-year-old legs, which found
Benbulben’s ascent a strain. The route we took was from the east of
Benbulben where a road climbs part way up to a peat bog from which a
ravine between Benbulben and Kings Mountain is visible. One must
traverse the peat bog for about a quarter mile, then climb the ravine to
the top. The south side of the ravine is better, and although there is
no trail we were helped by a sheep path we encountered part way up. Once
on top, one turns north for the mile and a quarter easier hike to the
summit marker. Total time from base to summit is about one and a half
Although the view from Knocknarea was impressive, the view from
Benbulben on a clear day is truly awesome, and for a while I could
banish that nagging thought, “How the heck am I going to get down from

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