Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Volunteers work to restore Slieve Gullion cairn

Around thirty volunteers braved the windy conditions on Saturday last, 16th May, to assist in the repair of the ancient passage grave on the summit of Slieve Gullion.

The Neolithic cairn is approximately 5,000 years old and is the highest in Ireland.  Over recent years, as visitor numbers to the mountain have increased, the cairn has suffered from the accidental damage of loose stones being pushed down the slopes and into the passage entrance, partially blocking it.

Last weekend’s repair work was organised by the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership, part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and supervised by archaeologist Martin Keery, Historical Monuments Inspector for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

Mr Keery revealed the Slieve Gullion passage grave is one of 190 ‘state-care’ sites in Northern Ireland.

“Slieve Gullion is the highest mountain in this area, so this would have been a prestigious site, its prominence and size meant the burial chamber would have been used for the cremation of important figures of the period,” he explained, and praised the volunteers for their efforts.

Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Naomi Bailie thanked the volunteers for their hard work and said: “It is fantastic to see enthusiastic volunteers taking care of such an ancient monument.”

Partnership said it was “heartening” that the volunteers were keen to keep working, even after all the restoration work had been completed, and praised their enthusiasm.