The high point for many an ambitious Club footballer is an All Ireland or a Provincial Club medal. Today it was the turn of St Brigid’s, Roscommon and Corofin, Galway to contest the Connacht Final in ‘The Hyde’, a venue I like to visit. First though I had an early start as I wanted to take in the County High Points in counties Longford and Roscommon.
The weather forecast was for frost and ice, but thankfully it was raining at 6.30am this morning when I woke – but the fog was milky thick! Undeterred I headed first for the Longford’s high point, Corn Hill (278 metres) and I was atop that little hill at 9am!
Longford is as flat at a midland accent but it was still a lovely short little ramble. I had just stepped out of the car when the sun burnt off the mist on top of Corn Hill. It’s a pretty little spot, steeped in folklore with its original Irish name Carn Clainne Aodha more revealing about its past. There are two possible passage tombs which have two legends associated with them. One of them is supposedly the burial place of Queen Medbh’s nephew, Forbaide Ferbend. who killed her with his sling loaded with hard cheese while she is bathing in Lough Ree in the Shannon, Co. Roscommon; this avenged Medb’s murder of Clothra, Medb’s sister and Furbaide’s mother! The second legend refers to the Cailleach Béara who dropped stones out of her apron as she flew over the hill. We also bumped into her on Slieve Gullion, County Armagh a few weeks back!
It was a short stop here as I had to make it to the most northerly point of Roscommon, a place wedged in between Sligo and Leitrim for the next County High Point – Seltannasaggart (428 metres), hike it and get back to Dr Hyde Park for the Connacht Final at 1.30pm! The fog was as thick as ever when I came down from Corn Hill and the roads were windy and narrow. At least they were traffic free!
A foggy North Roscommon and Lovely Leitrim is a hard place to eke a living in I’d say! Fields full of rushes, broken stone walls and plenty of rain means only the most resilient of folk can survive winters in these parts! Yet there is something mystical and other worldly about these sodden boggy uplands; ’tis no wonder Oweynagat (Cave of the Cats), Rathcroghan earned the title of the ‘Gate to Hell’ by our Celtic scribes or that tales of Queen Medbh and the epic Táin Bó Cuailnge are set in these eerie West of Ireland landscapes.
There was no break in the fog over in the county of the ‘Sheep Stealers’ and my walk uphill was mostly under a blank white cape of fog. I got the odd glimpse back towards beautiful Lough Allen and Sliabh an Iarainn on the opposite side. I’ve done some great cycling across this area in the past few years; it comes in under the radar for most people, but there are beautiful routes and some outstanding areas of natural beauty and of interest. The Roscommon High Point however is a nondescript pile of rocks, called Seltannasaggart set in the middle of a wind farm, with creepy pylons purring in the foggy dew. It’s only about a 5km out and back walk, though this morning I did little bit more as I couldn’t find the marker for a long time!
It was on to the Connacht Final then and a great win for St Brigid’s, who were by far the better team. I wasn’t surprised, having seen the Galway Final a short while ago – Corofin aren’t the team they were. The tackling by the Brigid’s defenders was really top class – touch tight, got out in front, got a hand in, Contested every high ball – and won them. Allied to that they had pace all over the park and a really good midfield pairing. All in all, another great day of football and hill walking!