The Windy Gap Co Mayo


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

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.

clean air

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.


3 thoughts on “The Windy Gap Co Mayo

  1. Humans have always dominated landscapes in every region and every continent. It has got very little to do with the Bible. Even this project is imposing human values unto this land in its own way from managing the forest to leaving certain trees there and removing others. That been said, I think it is an awesome project and badly needed.

  2. Thank you for your comment. While the quote is from the bible I believe that religion has and does influence government thinking right down to grass root level and the belief has been we humans are above all living things, which has lead to the domination of worldwide landscapes, leaving little room for any other living thing. I am hoping that this project will help all of us understand that there is room and a need for all things to coexist in harmony.

    • Even dyed in the wool environmentalist think humans are above other living things. There is nothing wrong with that view. In fact it is hard to argue otherwise.

      Nature conservation has only been a success where nature is shown to benefit people in the long term (e.g. tourism, recreation, new medicines). It applies whether we are talking about rainforest or rare tigers. Even Wild Nephin is not being created for its own sake. Destruction of nature is also linked to economics but in contrast it is caused by short term human interests. People in ancient Australia, America and the Far East were just as bad as Europeans at wiping out wildlife.

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