limavady’s myths and legends come to life….

The Limavady Explore See Do Sculpture Trail

Funded by the NITB Tourism Development Fund, Limavady Borough Council has created an iconic trail for visitors to explore and discover our most notable myths and legends.  The Limavady Explore See Do Sculpture Trail is an original way to allow visitors to the area to experience our most celebrated tales.  Discover tales of merciless highwaymen pillaging unsuspecting travellers and seek a gift for an ancient sea god. Listen to the faery harp playing ‘Danny Boy’, marvel at the leaping dog and unearth the last serpent in Ireland  .Limavady and the Roe Valley has a wealth of cultural tradition and heritage, explored in the community through music, song and visual art, and a strong built and natural environmental heritage; the essence and legacy of both is captured within six exceptional individual works of art, depicting and telling our stories in an innovative way along the globally recognised strategic Causeway Coastal Route.

FINVOLA, THE GEM OF THE ROE        

DUNGIVEN LIBRARY, MAIN STREET, DUNGIVEN

Local legend mourns the 17th century story of Finvola, the young and beautiful daughter of Dermot, the chieftain of the O’Cahans, who fell in love with Angus McDonnell of the McDonnell Clan from the western isles of Scotland. Dermot consented to the marriage on the condition that on his daughter’s death, she would be brought back to Dungiven for burial.

Tragically, Finvola died young, soon after reaching the isle of Islay and distraught, Angus could not bear to part with her and buried her on the island. On Benbradagh Mountain Finvola’s two brothers heard a piercing wail and recognising the call of the banshee Grainne Rua, knew that a member of their clan had died. After discovering all at home alive and well, the brothers set sail for Islay, where they recovered Finvola’s body and brought her home to Dungiven, setting the banshee’s cry at rest.

Finvola’s story is captured by Maurice Harron’s bronze sculptural interpretation of the legendary beauty, situated on Dungiven Main Street outside Dungiven Library.

CUSHY GLEN, THE HIGHWAYMAN

LARGANTEA PICNIC SITE, WINDYHILL ROAD, LIMAVADY

The mountains and lonely valleys of Limavady and the Roe Valley have been witness to the colourful and in some cases blood-thirsty exploits of 18th century highwaymen. One of the most notorious of these was Cushy Glen, who operated on the Windy Hill road, between Limavady and Coleraine, formerly known as the Murderhole Road, due to the rather gruesome tales it has witnessed.

 

Cushy Glen, the infamous 18th century highwayman, used this lonely stretch of road to prey upon unsuspecting travellers. The name arises from the murder hole, where Cushy reputedly had his den. Cushy would lie in wait for his victims as they made their way over the lonely mountain road and attack them from behind with a knife. He was often helped in his deeds by his wife, Kitty. Cushy met his end one night when he was shot dead while attempting to rob Harry Hopkins, a cloth merchant from Bolea.  The new sculpture of Cushy Glen, crafted by Maurice Harron, at Largantea Picnic site on the Windyhill Road, depicts an eerie representation of Cushy lying in wait in his den for passing travellers…

 

MANANNAN MCLIR, THE CELTIC GOD OF THE SEA

GORTMORE VIEWING POINT, BINEVENAGH MOUNTAIN, LIMAVADY

One morning in February 1896, two local ploughmen, Tom Nicholl and James Morrow, stumbled across an incredible find during their daily toil. The Broighter Gold, as the treasure later became known, comprised of an ornamented collar, a little boat with oars, a bowl, two bracelets and two necklaces. Sold to the British Academy, the find then became embroiled in further controversy when the Royal Irish Academy claimed that the gold should be declared treasure trove and handed over by the British Academy. In 1903, the case came to conclusion, when the court ruled that the gold be handed over to the National Museum in Dublin, where it is on display today.

 

During the lengthy trial much of the argument centred on whether the field at Broighter had been under the sea, when the hoard was deposited. Some of the witnesses argued that the area was covered by the waters of Lough Foyle, when it was deposited between 300BC and 100AD as although Broighter had been dry land for over 4,000 years, the area is only 16 feet above sea and liable to flooding from Lough Foyle.

 

Local tradition tells of the presence of a sea god in Lough Foyle and the widespread practice of making votive offerings to deities in Celtic times to Manannán mac Lir, who was regarded as the Irish Neptune.  Local people believe that his spirit is released during fierce storms. Some elderly folk in the area are still heard to remark “Manannán is angry today,” when the Foyle is rough and refer to the angry waves as “Manannán’s seahorses.” The eminent archaeologist RB Warner states that, according to mythology, “Manannan was the possessor of a horse that could travel over land and sea.” More interestingly he indicates that “Manannán was also the owner of a metal boat, which obeyed the thoughts of its sailors.”

 

The new sculpture, created by John Darren Sutton, is situated at Gortmore Viewing Point, on the Bishop’s Road, a spectacular journey across Binevenagh Mountain named after the Bishop of Derry, Earl Frederick Hervey, looping off the Causeway Coastal Route.  The sculpture of Manannán Mac Lir overlooks Lough Foyle, still seeking the votive offering which was denied to him.

 

THE LEAP OF THE DOG

ROE VALLEY COUNTRY PARK, DOGLEAP ROAD, LIMAVADY

Limavady derives its name from the Irish meaning “Leim an Mhadaidh” meaning Leap of the Dog, based on the story of a legendary leap over the River Roe which saved the O’Cahan castle from enemy ambush.  The original site of the O’Cahans’ castle was located in the Roe Valley Country Park and from here the O’Cahan clan ruled Limavady until the 17th century.  On one occasion, when under siege by their enemies, the O’Donnell clan from Country Donegal, the O’Cahans sent for reinforcements across the River Roe via a faithful wolfhound who leapt across the swirling currents of the river to deliver the message.  The O’Cahans’ stronghold was secured and their influence continued to thrive until the 17th century, when the last O’Cahan chief was imprisoned for treason and died in the Tower of London in 1628. The O’Cahan’s fortified land was granted to Sir Thomas Phillips, who founded Newtownlimavady, which was granted a borough charter in 1613. 400 years later, celebrated sculptor, Maurice Harron commemorates the famous legend through the ‘Leap of the Dog’ sculpture at the Roe Valley Country Park.

 

LIG-NA-PAISTE, THE LAST SERPENT IN IRELAND

FEENY PICNIC SITE, FEENY

Near the source of the Owenreagh River in Banagher Forest near Feeny, an enormous serpent is said to lie curled up in a small pool. Legend says that when St Patrick was driving all the snakes out of Ireland and into the sea, one local serpent called Lig-na-paiste was overlooked. Huge and fierce, it dwelt in a dark valley near the source of the Owenreagh river and terrorised everyone in the countryside. Eventually the local people approached St Murrough O’Heaney, a famous local holy man, and asked him for help. St Murrough fasted for 9 days and nights and asked for God’s help.  He then confronted the serpent and managed to trick it into putting on three bands of rushes. When these were in place, he prayed that they should become bands of iron. In this way he trapped Lig-na-paiste and banished him downstream to the waters of Lough Foyle forever. It is said that the unusual currents which move along the North Derry coast are due to Lig-na-Paiste writhing beneath the surface of the water.  St Murrough’s remains lie at Banagher Old Church outside Feeny.  Maurice Harron’s sculptural snake, writhes in celtic knots at Feeny Picnic site on to represent Lig-na-Paiste, the last serpent in Ireland.

 

RORY DALL O’CAHAN AND THE LAMENT OF THE O’CAHAN HARP

DUNGIVEN CASTLE PARK, BLEACH GREEN, DUNGIVEN

Limavady is the home of the world famous song Danny Boy, which came to prominence after Fred Weatherly, an English composer, wrote lyrics to accompany a haunting melody sent to him by his sister-in-law from Colorado.  The song became one of the best known tunes in the world and has been recorded by many notable singers over the past century.  Local tradition says that the original tune to Danny Boy, entitled originally as ‘The O’Cahan’s Lament’ and retitled ‘The Londonderry Air’, originated from a faery tune heard by Rory Dall O’Cahan, a celebrated musician and O’Cahan leader from the 17th Century.

The confiscation of the O’Cahan lands was to enrage the Rory Dall (c1550-166O), a chieftain of the clan, and inspired him to compose a tune of such pain and passion that it would eventually touch the hearts of people worldwide. The tune became known as “O’Cahan’s Lament”.  There are those who say that Rory Dall had some assistance in writing the lament. A story is told that he had too much to drink one evening, left his castle on the banks of the Roe, staggered along the riverside and eventually collapsed in a hollow. The servants at the castle, who were sent to bring him back, were attracted by the sound of his harp in the distance. When they found Rory Dall, he was lying unconscious but mysterious invisible fingers were playing a most beautiful tune on the harp. After Rory Dall gained consciousness he immediately became aware of the haunting music being played by the fairies. He listened attentively and when he was confident he could play it he made his way back to the castle, where he entertained the guests with the first rendition of the air later to be known as ‘The Londonderry Air’.  The sculpture of the musical harp, located at Dungiven Castle Park, entering by the Bleach Green entrance, created by Eleanor Wheeler and Alan Cargo, commemorates this magical legend of the birth of this famous melody.

For more information on the Sculpture Trail or things to Explore, See, Do… in Limavady please contact our Visitor Servicing Officers on Tel: 028 7776 0650 or tourism@rvacc.co.uk


 

This entry was posted on June 14th, 2013 at 2:57 pm

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    roevalleyarts: "FABULOUS CHRISTMAS WORKSHOP 🎄💫
Christmas Willow Decorations, Adult Workshop, Saturday 9 December 10am - 4pm
It's that time of year when we enjoy decorating our homes, making them feel very cosy over the festive period. Louise McClean from Atlantic Craft NI ( Willow/ Wood /Glass ) is with us on Saturday running an adult workshop entitled 'Christmas Willow Decorations'. Using natural materials and traditional techniques participants will spend the day crafting stars, angels and reindeer. Cost £50 (full), £46 (concession). Contact the Box Office 028 7776 0650 to book a place (only a few places remaining). #workshop #willowworkshop #willowdecorations #craftni #atlanticcraftni #roevalley #adultworkshop #artsni #willowcraft #willowcrafts"
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