Rothar Routes

Cycle routes & pilgrim journeys in Ireland and Europe …..

Turas Columbanus Stage 9

Monaghan to Newry

The most difficult stage so far! 

The Diamond, Monaghan

The route brought me out to Ireland’s 2019 Tidy Towns winner, Glaslough village and around Castle Leslie, through Tynan village with its lovely cross. Stunning amount of native woodland in this area with picturesque villages that lulled me into a false sense of how good the route today would be.

Tynan Cross

This was surprisingly challenging with lots of hills on poor surfaces of National Cycle Route 91 – a brilliant route but tough. Many of the bóithríns were potholed surfaces and thankfully only suited to cycling or walking.

Monaghan nearly broke me – again!

I followed winding rustic roads across to the village of Killylea and onwards towards Navan Fort, the site of legendary Eamhain Mhaca and the story of famed Cú Chulainn, one of the most famous heroes from the Ulster Cycle of folklore.

As luck would have it, I was fortunate to bump into a young Irish Road Bowling Champion, Ciarán Corrigan, his brother, and his father as they practised road bowls along the road. There is a rich heritage of road bowling in Armagh and Cork and its not a sport that we see down in the south east

Road Bowling is massively popular in South Armagh and Cork

The skyline of Armagh city is dominated by the beautiful and imposing St Patricks Cathedral. The late Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich wrote one of the important histories of Columbanus, which was the first source I came across of the connection between Columbanus and Carlow

Whenever I hear Armagh mentioned I think of my great friend and mentor, the late John. Morrison who lived alongside in Cathedral Terrace, where there was always an open door and a big beaming smile to welcome visitors to John’s house.

I slipped away out of Armagh continuing National Cycle Route 91, cum the Ulster Way, which involved a surprising amount of climbing. The road skirts Gosford Forest Park as it winds its way east towards Scarva and the flat cycle path along the Newry Canal. A welcome relief after some serious hilly terrain. The last 20kms into Newry were a doddle and it was surprising how underused the cycle route was. 

Easy cycling along Newry Canal Bike Path

2 Responses to “Turas Columbanus Stage 9”

  1. Hike Cycle Ireland (Martin)

    I’m more familiar with this part of your route, that’s quite the scenic route from Monaghan to Newry! Great you got to see some road bowls in Armagh. The Newry Canal towpath is a great route. It’ll be fantastic when you can go all the way to Carlingford off-road.

    • Turlough

      Monaghan – Newry was tough as hell! Thought I’d never get to Scarva …. those drumlins were nearly the death of me!


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