We have never had a visitor to the house that we haven’t brought to the Minaun. If it was good enough for Cornelius Bolton who brought Arthur Young to the summit during his tour of Ireland in the 16th Century, it should be good enough for anyone else.
Young wrote; “…rode with Mr Bolton Jun. to Faithlegghill, which commands one of the best views I have seen in Ireland” he then goes on to give a detailed geographical description which you can read online if you wish (page 409 to be specific). Returning after two years he again “…visited this enchanting hill, and walked to it, day after day, from Ballycanavan, and with increasing pleasure.” I often thought that Young’s view would have been very similar to the photo below which Brendan Grogan took when he was part of the De La Salle Scouts in 1970.
|Photo; Brendan Grogan
As children the Minaun was a regular play space, particularly on Sunday days out with our mother. I can recall with clarity walking up to the summit and rambling all over the rocks. There were several spots that we visited and my own favourite was the round piece of stone, where local tradition had it that the Knights of the round table met. We would play at King Arthur, with swords and shields and talk in regal tones.
Another rock feature was shaped like a loaf of bread or other times we called it a grave, one of the knights that had fallen in battle. Strange to read as an adult another tale of a prince’s grave on the Minaun. T.F. O’Sullivan in his book Goodly Barrow relates how according to legend the Fianna used the Minaun in their defence of Lenister and so important was it to their leader Fionn Mac Cumhaill that he deputised a son Cainche Corcardhearg to wait in watch as protector of his realm. Apparently he lives below the ground…lying in wait!
The other feature of note was reputed to be Cromwell’s Rock, from whence the puritan marauder espied Waterford harbour and the approach to Waterford and planned his campaign for the siege and taking of the city. Possibly a fiction…but possibly true, who can say with any conviction? It was certainly a perfect spot to reconsider his option of taking Ireland by “Hook or by Crooke”
As we headed down from the Minaun we came to the old stump which was all that remained of a cross. My mother knew the story well. Her Uncle Christy Moran and his wife (the driving force) Katie Doherty had asked Chris Sullivan to make the cross. I was always told it was done to mark the Marian Year. However the cross was erected in 1950, and the Marian Year was in 1954, so I will have to do a bit more research into that. Katie went door to door to pay for the timber and although people had little enough they paid what they could.
My father told me about the day it was brought up. The boys of the area had been rounded up by Katie and no excuses would be heard. She had them hoist the cross onto their backs and then encouraged and cajoled them up the road from Coolbunnia to where the school now is, then up onto the Minaun to the summit. My father often joked that the only difference between themselves and Jesus was that Katie spared them the crown of thorns. In recent years my brother Robert has been talking about replacing the cross, which might be a nice idea, though I’d prefer a more inclusive symbol myself.
|Photo via Sean Doherty from the Cheekoint Cooolbunia Facebook page
One of the big differences now, to when I was a child, is the lack of the clear views. Then you could have a full 360 view from the summit including Waterford, South Tipp, Kilkenny, Wexford and Carlow. But alas the trees that were planted have now totally obscured the view. The photo below gives a good sense of the panorama, taken in the early 1950’s just after the cross was erected.
|Moran family early 1950’s
From Ann Moran via her son Brian (USA)
Speaking with Elsie Murphy recently she was able to date the selling of the Minaun by the Land Commission to the Forestry Commission as 1958. The forestry was subsequently planted in 1968/9 we think. For the last number of years, a certain person has been working tirelessly to keep the walkways open and establish some new paths over the Minaun. Given that the property is owned by Coillte I wont name names. But the idea that the Minaun should be open to public use is a worthy one. Use it or loose it as the saying goes. It could have been lost in the past when unsightly masts were erected, and perhaps could be lost in the future unless actions are taking by our present generation to retain this vital piece of recreational infrastructure. We could/should probably add the Deerpark and Glazing Wood to that list too. Coillte seems to care little enough for the ground, and having attempted to sell four acres last year, who knows what else they might do.
Arthur Young. “A Tour in Ireland 1776-1779” reprinted 1970. Irish University Press Shannon
TF O’Sullivan. “Goodly Barrow, A Voyage on an Irish River” 2001 Lilliput Press Dublin
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