Crown Mount - Story of Belfast

CROWN MOUNT is a celebrated rath which lies one mile north-east of Newry. It stands 112 feet high, a large platform on the summit of a hill, and it is 600 feet in circumference.

The story of Crown Mount is an interesting one. It was erected as a place for single combat between two princes who each claimed a royal territory.

I shall try and tell the romantic old tale. King Aengus—corrupted into MacGinness—had a son who was far beyond the bounds of Ulster. Prince Diarmid was famous for his beauty and ability, but still more for his noble deeds. He was a great sportsman and often passed far beyond his father's territory to hunt the savage wolf, wild boar and red deer, in the forests of Feudh Mor, "the Fews" and by the shores of Camlough, the "Crooked River." One day, when he was returning alone from the chase, he rode down the western hill into a village called Newry. On the banks of the Clanrye river, where there was a green dell surrounded by forest trees—on the identical spot where the barracks stand now—he saw a fair maiden milking her goats. He watched the most beautiful girl in Ireland, then, leaping from his horse, he begged for a drink.

Though she was clad in humble garments, she had an air of elegance and high descent. Everyone loved Mary O'Hanlon, and so did he, and as he led her to her cottage home, he begged her to accept his suit and become his queen in Iveagh. She refused, saying she was quite unfit for such a position. When the old woman she lived with heard who he was, she told him the secret of Mary's life. She was the child of the Prince of Ulster, and when her parents died, she was entrusted to the care of her mother's brother and his wife. The nurse overheard a wicked plot for her death that the inheritance might fall to their own son. The nurse carried off the child and her jewels, and had kept her in that humble retreat. When she produced the jewels, Diarmid recognised them at once, and discovered that the lovely Mary was his own cousin. He challenged the usurper to single combat, which was fought at the Crown Mount Rath. Prince Diarmid of course won, and he lived long and happily ever after, and so ends the history of Crown Mount.