Ireland 2019: Our Game of Thrones Tour, Part Five — Tollymore

After packing up our cloaks and swords we left Inch Abbey and drove through the town of Downpatrick until we reached the A25 road and then we headed westward past the village of Clough until we reached the town of Castlewellan where we then headed south toward the Mourne Mountains and soon reached our destination just outside the village of Bryansford: Tollymore Forest Park, also know to Game of Thrones fans as The Haunted Forest.

Downtime 2019. A group of street artists mostly from the greater Belfast area descended on Downpatrick one weekend and turned an empty building in the center of town to this work of art that you can see through the front windshield of our tour bus.

A stainless steel work of art called On the Way to the Fair on the roundabout at the junction of A2, A24 and A25 in the tiny village of Clough.

Clough is a small village of less than 300 people. 3500 people in Northern Ireland were killed during the Troubles. Two of these deaths occurred in Clough. On May 22, 1987 Charles Watson, a 35 year-old Protestant member of the Ulster Volunteer Force was shot and killed by the IRA at his home in Clough. On July 27, 1997 James Morgan, a 16 year-old Catholic from Castlewellan was beaten to death in a field in Clough by members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

St Malachy’s Catholic Church, Castlewellan

Castlewellan is a small town of about 2400 people.  Ten people were killed in Castlewellan between 1972 and 1992 during the Troubles. Seven of these were killed by the IRA, two by the Ulster Volunteer Force and one by the British Army. This last person was a 21 year-old member of the IRA who was shot as he was walking on the grounds of St Malachy’s.  Also, the teenager who was killed in Clough in 1997 was from Castlewellan.

We didn’t see any squirrels.

Rolling down the hill. Those are the Mournes in the background.

Tollymore view a tad to the right of previous photo.We were about to set off on our second trek of the day. This would be a three-mile hike that began with a long downhill stretch and levelled off somewhat as we walked along the river. The most difficult portion of the hike for me was that stretch toward the end of the hike that now was all uphill.

I think we walked to the right from here but I don’t remember whether we were looking for the blue, red or black trail.

The splendor of Tollymore.

close-up of colorful fruits and foliage.

Tollymore Forest Park came into existence on June 2, 1955, making it the first state forest park in Northern Ireland.

We encountered more than a dozen bridges along the way.

We saw a lot of these trees with pink-purple flowers.

The River Shimna flow through the forest park.

I stopped often to take a shot and then would discover that the rest of the group had already disappeared.

The entire walk was quite scenic.

I liked this scene so much that I ended up with three pictures from the same shot.

A crop of previous photo.

Another crop for a vertical view.

View from one of the many bridges we crossed. Our trail meanders over on the right.

Let’s see how a monochrome works here. Remember Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness Challenges? I miss them.

The opening scene of the first episode in the first season of Game of Thrones was filmed here in the Tollymore Forest. This is when the deserter from the Night Watch comes across the dismembered bodies of the Wildlings who were massacred by the White Walkers.

Where Ned Stark and his children found the direwolf pups in Season One of Game of Thrones.

Just a tad downstream from the direwolf pup discovery, one of two major scenes in the first episode of Game of Thrones, Season One that were filmed in Tollymore.

Same scene as previous photo but a slightly different angle and a few feet away.

The Hermitage. This whimsical stone village has been around since the 1770s and looks like a scene from Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s friend C S Lewis actually roamed around this area and they say a stone lion he came across here was the inspiration for the character he called Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Tollymore was the last stop on our tour and we then turned around and drove back to Castlewellan and Clough where we switched to the A24 and headed back to Belfast, passing Ballynahinch, where we attended our family wedding the previous day. Our guide turned on the first episode of the first season of Game of Thrones for our pleasure on the return trip. We pulled into our parking spot at Jury’s Inn at exactly 6:00pm with five minutes to go for the episode. That was it. We had to get off the bus. I still haven’t seen the last five minutes of the show.

Bonus — The Mountains of Mourne

The Tollymore Forest Park is at the foot of the Mourne Mountains in southeast County Down. We drove through the Mournes one day in 2009 with Henry and Geraldine and stopped for a bite at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa near the Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle. There we saw the dark Mournes sweep down to the sea.

Percy French (1854 – 1920) was a popular songwriter and entertainer  around the turn of the century and also an excellent watercolorist. He was born in Tulsk in County Roscommon, about halfway between Strokestown and Boyle.  We stayed at the Percy French Hotel in Strokestown in 2002 when we attended the Ballykilcline Convention that year.

One of my Dad’s favorite songs was Abdul Abulbul Amir, one of French’s popular ditties, and I still have that record in my music collection. But French’s most popular song was The Mountains of Mourne which he wrote in 1896.

Many have sung this song over the years including the Kingston Trio (Nick Reynolds) in 1960, Charlie King in 1979, Don McLean in the 80s, Finbar Furey in 2003, and Celtic Thunder (Keith Harkin) in 2008. Here’s Johnny McEvoy’s rendition from 2000:

Here’s a bit of trivia for you: The highest point in Northern Ireland is Slieve Donard in the Mournes. It stands at 850 m (2,790 feet) and is the seventh highest in all of Ireland.

Extra bonus — Abdul Abulbul Amir

Ok, OK — I hear that there are at least a thousand people out there who can’t wait to hear Abdul Abulbul Amir. So here is the song as recorded by Frank Crumit in 1927:


About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Ireland, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Ireland 2019: Our Game of Thrones Tour, Part Five — Tollymore

  1. Peter Klopp says:

    Nature at its best through the eyes of your lens, my friend. Stunning images!

  2. disperser says:

    Very interesting . . . the forest scenes (especially those with water) look a lot like photos I took at Smokey Mountain NP. I guess most forests look the same.

    Interesting music, especially the 1927 factual recounting of historic events.

    • We haven’t ever visited the Smokey Mountains but we came close once. In 2007 we spent a few days in Asheville, North Carolina and we drove around the area a bit. I remember seeing signs for the National Park and for the Tennessee border but we never entered either the park or the state.
      Now, as for the 1927 factual recounting: Percy French wrote his poem in 1877 when the Russo-Turkish war was going on and the two main characters in his poem are solely the results of his imagination. Over the years there have been different versions of his song and many different spellings of his characters’ names. The name of the title character originally was “Abdula Bulbul Ameer.” The song was popular in Europe long before Frank Crumit recorded it in the US in 1927. My Dad was 17 years old when he acquired the record in 1927 and my siblings and I loved playing records like this from his old collection when we were growing up in the 40s and 50s. This song was so popular that we all memorized the lyrics!

    • disperser says:

      The park is OK but doesn’t really measure up to the parks out West (to my eyes; but I may be biased). I like the Blue Ridge Highway and have driven it thrice. Shenandoah is another one we drove through without a lot of time spent there.

      As for the song, yes, I know it’s fiction. I looked up the Wikipedia page before answering because the lyrics intrigued me.

  3. mvschulze says:

    Alluring post as always, as I read, view and learn much about this land. The last image above, The Hermitage, is fascinating in it’s steps, pathways, windows … M 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.