We took a short trip out Sunday morning, while the sky had grey cloud cover the rain held off and the wind was slight but not cold. We went to the Windy Gap which is about 11 miles or 18 km from Castlebar Co Mayo to view Nephin. It lies in the middle of Glen Nephin and dominates the landscape for miles around, at 2646ft (806 metres) it is the second highest mountain in Mayo after Mweelrea.
This area was inhabited by the Gamarad, who were Kings of Connaught in prehistory and the legend Táin Bό Flidhais (known as “The Mayo Táin”) tells the story of a cattle raid on Ailill Finn one of these Connaught Kings (who held residence at Dun Atha Fene present day Addergoole and Crossmolina) and his wife Flidais. Ephin is mentioned in Caith Maige Tuired (“The Battle of Moytura”) as one of the “twelve chief mountains” of Ireland and the mountain’s importance may be inferred by the decision at the Sionad Ráth Bhreasail (Synod of Raith Bressail) 1111 to make Nephin the northern boundary of the diocese of Cong. Looking across the landscapes you can see and feel an age of time and history.
Nephin Beg Range
The Nephin Beg mountain range rises on Ireland’s western coast and stretches 20 miles into the sparsely populated northwest of County Mayo. Now this range is home to a pioneering re-wilding project which aims to create 27,000 acres of unique wilderness landscape, providing connectivity, protecting and reintroducing Key mega fauna. This project will over the next 15 years, naturalise the grasslands and forest plantations where only natural processes will control the landscape.
The Wild Nephin project is part of a growing interest in Europe to create one million hectares by 2020, re-wilding ecologically degraded landscapes, abandoning (I HOPE) the biblical doctrine of “dominion” that assumes it is our duty to “control” nature.