The other day a friend in Caisleán Uidhilin (Castlewellan) asked to meet a couple of us. Despite the heavy snow in parts of the country we drove the 22 miles on roads which had been gritted.
When we reached our destination the snow was covering all but the main street so our friend suggested we go for a dander. I've been in the town a number of times and had a pint or three in one of the pubs but hadn't walked about the place.
We went to a place named after a local IRA volunteer, Paul MacGorrian, who was killed by the British army in August 1974. The other name for the walk is Bunkers Hill which some people still use but most Republicans call it after the óglach who was ambushed close to his home and where a relatively new Bunscoil Bheanna Boirce is located.
Although the snow was lying on the paths as we headed up it wasn't too cold. On the way up we could clearly see the Mournes in all their splendour and looking north our friend pointed out a spot where the Brits would regularly dig in whilst spying on local Republicans.
It's not a long walk but very enjoyable so we headed back to the town. I've been to many GAA grounds throughout the country but never at Naomh Maolmhoig and as we passed we lamented the social club not being open because a pint of the black stuff would've gone down a treat.
Being a local history buff I had to find out a bit more about the town so the other two walked on while I read signs giving some history - obviously not from a Republican perspective. The first church built was a Presbyterian one in 1796 by a planter called Annesely (probably related to one of the top RUC people). A Catholic church was built in 1824 and no doubt like most towns and villages throughout the country the planters treated Catholics like vermin - unless they crawled to them as most bishops and priests at that time did.
Castlewellan has a population of over 3,000 and looking around the town it looks a nice spot so hopefully I'll get down again and take in more of the place.