Slieve Donard

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Slieve Donard
County Down
Murlough Beach, August 2010 (04).JPG
Slieve Donard and Newcastle from Murlough Beach
Range: Mourne Mountains
Summit: 2,789 feet J357276
54°10’49"N, 5°55’15"W

Slieve Donard is a mountain in County Down, within the Mourne Mountains. It is the highest mountain in the Mournes and the highest point in Northern Ireland (and in all of Ulster).[1] Slieve Donard is the county top of County Down.

Slieve Donard looms over the seaside town of Newcastle on the eastern coast of County Down, the mountain standing just two miles from the Irish Sea.


The name of the mountain is from the Gaelic Sliabh Domhanghairt, meaning “Dónairt's mountain”, after Saint Donard, known in Irish as Domhanghairt or Domhanghart.[2][3] Dónairt was a follower of Saint Patrick and founded a monastery at Maghera, north of Newcastle. According to tradition he was appointed by Saint Patrick to guard the surrounding countryside from the summit of Slieve Donard.[1] Popular legend supposes that he did not die, but became a "perpetual guardian".[1] There was once a chapel on top, St Donard's Chapel, according to a map of Newry made in 1609.

In pagan times the mountain was known as Sliabh Slainge, named after Sláinge mac Partholóin, who was allegedly the first physician in Ireland.[1] According to the Annals of the Four Masters, Sláinge died in Anno Mundi 2533 (2533 years after the creation of the world) and was buried under a cairn on the mountain.[1]


View looking north to Castlewellan

Slieve Donard sits at the north-eastern edge of the Mournes, overlooking Newcastle and Dundrum Bay. It has three subsidiary peaks on the seaward side, Millstone Mountain (1,510 feet), Thomas's Mountain and Crossone. Two glens separate Slieve Donard from the neighbouring mountains of Slieve Commedagh (to the north-west) and Chimney Rock Mountain (to the south). Slieve Commedagh, at 2,516 feet, is the second-highest of the Mourne Mountains.[4]

At the summit of Slieve Donard there is a cairn and a small stone tower, which was built as a shelter. This tower is part of the Mourne Wall, which passes over the mountain's southern and western shoulders.[1] A triangulation pillar sits on top.

Climbing Slieve Donard

The mountain is an easy climb although the path is very eroded at places. In recent years a stone path has been made on the steepest parts of the mountain. The summit provides spectacular views of the coast of Ireland and as far afield as Belfast, 30 miles to the north, and Dublin, 55 miles to the south.



Outside links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5
  2. O'Mulconry, Ferfeasa. Annala Rioghachta Eireann: Annals of the kingdom of Ireland (Volume 1). Hodges, Smith, and co., 1856. Page 6.
  3. Kay Muhr. "Celebrating Ulster's Townlands". Ulster Place-Name Society (Queen's University, Belfast). Retrieved 2008-06-21. 
  4. MountainViews - Slieve Commedagh