The Mourne Wall is a wall running along the peaks of the Mourne Mountains of County Down. It was built between 1904 and 1922 by the Belfast Water Commissioners in order to enclose the water catchment in the Mournes. This was part of the scheme to supply water to the growing city of Belfast. Today the wall is a prominent landmark on some of the most prominent mountains in Ulster.
The wall was crafted from natural granite stone using traditional dry stone walling techniques. On average the wall is about 5 feet high and 2½ feet to 3 feet thick. It is 22 miles long and passes over fifteen mountains.
The mountains over which the wall runs are (listed clockwise from the Kilkeel River):
- Slievenaglogh 1,460 feet
- Slieve Muck 2,211 feet
- Carn Mountain 1,926 feet
- Slieve Loughshannagh 2,031 feet
- Slieve Meelbeg 2,323 feet
- Slieve Meelmore 2,244 feet
- Slieve Bearnagh 2,385 feet
- Slievenaglogh 1,923 feet
- Slieve Corragh 2,267 feet
- Slieve Commedagh 2,510 feet
- Slieve Donard 2,789 feet
- Rocky Mountain 1,722 feet
- Slieve Binnian 2,451 feet
- Wee Binnian 1,509 feet
- Moolieve 1,089 feet
Of those listed, Rocky Mountain is the only mountain where the Wall only skirts the lower slopes, rather than passing over or close by the summit.
The wall took eighteen years to complete. The Silent Valley Reservoir was created to hold the water in the catchment area, and supply Belfast with water. Some people argue that the wall was quite useless as it fences off about 9,000 acres of barren and desolate mountains. However, it brought a lot of very welcome employment at the time, and the main purpose of enclosing the area was to isolate the catchment area from the effects of cattle and sheep on the water course.
The wall is currently owned and maintained by Northern Ireland Water.
- "The Mournes" Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland, 2005
- The Mountains of Mourne, A Celebration of a Place Apart, David Kirk, 2002, Appletree Press Ltd, Belfast