By Paul Swift
There are a number of river Blackwater’s in the country, including one in my own county of Monaghan.
The Monaghan Blackwater rises near the Bragan Mountains on the Monaghan-Tyrone border and flows in a south-easterly direction through Monaghan Town. It flows into the river Cor just south of Middletown, which then joins the Ulster Blackwater between Caledon and Glaslough. Along the way it also passes through the villages of Scotstown and Ballinode.
The River Blackwater is the largest river in County Monaghan and one of the most substantial catchments in this part of Ulster. The river is known to contain a range of fish species including trout but is also home to the otter – one of our most elusive mammals.
Also very elusive is the kingfisher, probably the brightest-coloured of all the Irish birds. Sitting still beside the River Blackwater might reward the patient nature-lover with glimpses of these shy species.
After leaving the slopes of Bragan the river comes to the village of Scotstown. Here it flows by St. Mary’s Church and the GAA grounds. The church is a free-standing barn style, first built in 1785 and rebuilt around 1820. The church contains a wrought iron weather vane which may have come from Gola House (a nearby country house which was destroyed in the early 1920’s).
Scotstown GAA club is one of the most famous in the country. They contested an All-Ireland Club Senior Football final in 1979. While on the day they lost to Nemo Rangers of Cork, the match will be remembered for the fact that it snowed during the game.