In 1891, Sir Hugh Munro published a list of Scottish peaks that were over
3,000 feet. Over time, any peak or summit over 3,000 feet in Britain and
Ireland came to be known as a Munro, writes PAULA REDMOND


Sir Hugh Thomas Munro was a Scottish mountaineer. In 1891 he compiled a list of mountains in Scotland that were over 3,000 feet in height. These mountains became known as ‘Munros’. Outside of Scotland, mountains that meet this height criteria are known as ‘Furth Munros’ – ‘furth’ meaning ‘outside’, and in this case meaning that they are located outside of Scotland.

In Ireland there are thirteen munros (sometimes listed as fourteen due to Caher, Co. Kerry, having two distinct peaks). The majority of these are located in the MacGillycuddy Reeks in Kerry. The additional ones are Brandon Mountain, Co. Kerry; Lugnaquilla in the Wicklow mountains and the Galtymore, bordering counties Tipperary and Limerick.

Carrauntoohil (Corrán Tuathail in Irish, meaning ‘Tuathail’s Inverted Sickle’), in the MacGillycuddy Reeks, is Ireland’s highest mountain at 3,409 feet. Isaac Weld, a topographical writer referred to Carrauntoohil as Gheraun-tuel (Géarán Tuathail) meaning ‘Tuathail’s tooth or fang’ in the 1800s.

The Reeks stretch from the Gap of Dunloe in the east to Glencar in the west and overlook the Lakes of Killarney. Their name comes from the son of a landlord known as Cuddy. However in Irish the name for the range is ‘Na Cruacha Dubha’, meaning ‘The Black Stacks’.

The view from the top is spectacular, with lakes and mountain peaks stretching far into the distance.

Locals erected a wooden cross on the summit in the 1950s. This was replaced by a steel cross in 1976, which was cut down in an act of vandalism in 2014, but was re-erected soon afterwards.

Many evocative place names exist around the Reeks and are connected with myths and legends. The Devil’s Ladder, which is the traditional route up Carrauntoohil, leads to an area known as Christ’s Saddle at the top. This is believed to be a pagan burial site.

Hag’s Glen in the foothills of the mountain is believed to have been the former home of a wise woman many centuries ago.

Fionn MacCumhaill and the Fianna warriors are also reported to have hunted in these mountains with their 500 hounds.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own