Cuilcagh Mountain


Cuilcagh () is a mountain on the border between
County Fermanagh County Fermanagh ( ; ) is one of the thirty-two counties A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes Chambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in c ...
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...
) and
County Cavan County Cavan ( ; gle, Contae an Chabháin) is a county A county is a geographical region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geo ...
(in the
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective id ...
). With a height of it is the highest point in both counties. It is also the 170th highest peak on the island of Ireland, and Ireland's only
cross-border Borders are geographic Geography (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast ...
county top. Water from the southern slope flows underground until it emerges some miles away in the
Shannon Pot Shannon Pot or Legnashinna () is a pool in the Karst, karst landscape in the townland of Derrylahan near Cuilcagh Mountain in County Cavan, Republic of Ireland, Ireland. An aquifer-fed naturally fluctuating pool, it is the traditional source of t ...
, the traditional source of the
River Shannon The River Shannon ( ga, Abhainn na Sionainne, ', '), at in length, is the longest river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows i ...
. The area is sometimes referred to as the Cuilcagh Mountains.


The name Cuilcagh comes from the Irish ''Cuilceach'', which has been translated as "chalky". However, the mountain is mainly sandstone and shale, covered with bog and heather. The cliff-edged summit surface of the mountain is formed from the hard-wearing Lackagh Sandstone which itself overlies the Briscloonagh Sandstone. "It is possible that the name refers to the limestone rock on the lower northern flanks, namely the Glencar and Dartry Limestone formations. Here a number of streams disappear below ground at swallow holes named Cats Hole, Pollawaddy, Pollasumera and Polliniska, all forming part of the Marble Arch cave system. If so, the name would mean '
calcareous ''Calcareous'' is an adjective meaning "mostly or partly composed of calcium carbonate Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molec ...
' rather than 'chalky'".Tempan, Paul
Irish Hill and Mountain Names
It has also been called Slieve Cuilcagh in English, 'Slieve' being an anglicisation of ''Sliabh'' ("mountain"). In the 1609
Plantation of Ulster The Plantation of Ulster ( gle, Plandáil Uladh; Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ''Ul ...
, Cuilcagh formed part of lands which were granted to John Sandford of
Castle Doe Doe Castle, or Caisleán na dTuath, near Creeslough, County Donegal, was the historical stronghold of Clan Sweeney, Clan tSuibhne (Clan MacSweeney), with architectural parallels to the Scottish tower house. Built in the early 15th century, it is ...
by letters patent dated 7 July 1613 (Pat. 11 James I – LXXI – 38, Quilkagh). It was later sold by Sandford to his wife's uncle
Toby Caulfeild, 1st Baron Caulfeild Sir Toby Caulfeild, 1st Baron Caulfeild of Charlemont (1565–1627) was an English army officer active in Ireland. Life He was born 2 December 1565 the son of Alexander Caulfeild of Great Milton in Oxfordshire. As a youth he served under Martin Fr ...
, Master of the Ordnance and Caulfield had the sale confirmed by letters patent of 12 July 1620 (Pat. 19 James I. XI. 45, Quilkagh).


The Cuilcagh area supports a rich assemblage of upland insects, and is one of the most important sites in Ireland for these species. Species recorded include the water beetles ''Agabus melanarius'', ''Agabus arcticus'', ''Dytiscus lapponicus'', ''Stictotarsus multilineatus'', ''Hydroporus longicornis'' and ''Hydroporus morio'' and the water bugs ''Glaenocorisa propinqua'' and ''Callicorixa wollastoni''. Lough Atona is the main locality for these species.


The Cuilcagh Mountain Park was opened by
Fermanagh District Council Historically, Fermanagh ( ga, Fir Manach), as opposed to the modern County Fermanagh, was a kingdom of Gaelic Ireland, associated geographically with present-day County Fermanagh. ''Fir Manach'' originally referred to a distinct kin group of all ...
in 1998.

Ramsar site

The Cuilcagh Mountain Ramsar site (wetlands of international importance designated under the
Ramsar Convention The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, a ...
), is 2744.45 hectares in area, at latitude 54 13 26 N and longitude 07 48 17 W. It was designated a Ramsar site on 31 December 1998.


In 2001 the Cuilcagh Mountain Park was joined with popular tourist attraction the
Marble Arch Caves The Marble Arch Caves are a series of natural limestone Limestone is a common type of carbonate In chemistry, a carbonate is a salt Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound belonging t ...
and the
Cladagh Glen The Cladagh River () is a small river in County Fermanagh, formed from three rivers and a number of streams draining off the northern slopes of Cuilcagh mountain, which combine underground in the Marble Arch Caves, Marble Arch Cave system. On t ...
Nature Reserve to make one of the first
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...
-recognised European Geoparks. This became a Global Geopark in 2004. In September 2008 the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark was expanded into County Cavan, making it the world's first transnational cross-border Geopark. The Geopark is protected and managed by Fermanagh & Omagh District Council through the staff of the Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre.

Boardwalk trail

In 2015, the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail or Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail (and also called "The Stairway to Heaven") was opened up to preserve and protect the underlying peatland bog from erosion; however the trail led to a dramatic rise in visitors to Cuilcagh from circa 3,000 per annum to over 60,000. The wooden trail is 7.5 kilometers long and is part of the longer Legnabrocky trail. The popularity of the trail has led to concerns over the ability of the area to handle the increased visitors to the trail.

See also

Sliabh Beagh Slieve Beagh or Sliabh Beagh () is a mountainous area straddling the border between County Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland and County Fermanagh and County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. A point just east of its summit is the highest point in Mo ...
Lists of mountains in Ireland In these lists of mountains in Ireland, those within Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Sco ...
Lists of mountains and hills in the British Isles The mountains and hills of the British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent ...
List of P600 mountains in the British Isles This is a list of P600 mountains in Britain and Ireland by height. A P600 is defined as a mountain with a topographic prominence above , regardless of elevation or any other merits (e.g. topographic isolation); this is a similar approach to that ...
*List of Marilyns in the British Isles *List of Hewitt mountains in England, Wales and Ireland

Further reading



External links

Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail
''WalkNI'' (2018)

''Irish Independent'' (April 2017)
Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Boarded Mountain Trail
Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark (July 2015) {{Irish long-distance trails Mountains and hills of County Fermanagh Mountains and hills of County Cavan Marilyns of Ireland Marilyns of Northern Ireland Ramsar sites in Northern Ireland Republic of Ireland–United Kingdom border International mountains of Europe Highest points of Irish counties Mountains under 1000 metres Karst