by Tommy Francis
Muckish is really a magic mountain. For one thing it is 666 meters high and at the very least it is 999 kilometers deep. Some say that it goes right through the earth and comes out in Australia at another mystical place called Uluru.
The Tuatha De Danann who lived in Ireland at one time were a very magical people. Lugh – The God of Light was one of them. One day they saw a fleet of ships approaching and taking no chances, The Tuatha caused a mist to surround the island to confuse the fleet. The sailors had to turn around and go far out to sea, well past the ninth wave. Looking back they saw a huge mountain rising out of the mist, it looked like a pig lying down sleeping so they called it MUC – AIS. This means a pigs back and it has been called that ever since.
Another amazing thing about Muckish is that it has deposits of very pure Silica Quarts Sands for making high grade optical glass and for using in anything that needs pure quartz. From at least the 1700’s it has been mined for glass making. The seam is high up on the northern side and the miners had to spend hours climbing up before even beginning work. This went on until the 1960’s. If you are fit an agile you can climb the miners track up to the old rusty machinery and from there to the mountain top. If you are not feeling so active, most people climb from beside the grotto at Mam na Mucaise ( Muckish Gap) which is just beyond the famous Droichead na nDeor (The Bridge of Tears) where Emigrants used to part from their families when they were walking to the transatlantic sailing ships at Moville. There is a stone at the bridge telling its story
In 1802 a Brig loaded with Muckish sand was sent from Ards pier to the Belfast glass works. It cost two guineas a ton, but that would be reduced to One Guinea when Mr Brennan, the supplier had roads built. Waterford Muckish Sand Crystal was displayed at the Cork exhibition in 1902. That is the exibition mentioned in the famous song “The Bold Thady Quill” where the fair maiden would be cured of her ailments if she got one squeeze from him. That’s Cork men for you.
On the top of Muchish there is a massive cairn placed over the remains of some famous person who lived when the digital watches of the time were made at New Grange and also at Raphoe Stone Circle. Take a stone with you and place it at the top of the Cairn and it will ensure that you come back or at least that your wish will come true. At the edge of the north side there is a cross placed there by the people of Creeslough and from there you can see Scotland on those special days when the winds lift the haze and the view stretches to infinity and the Tuatha De Danann are not in one of their spell making moods. But they are all around you and it is all magical.