Mountains of Ireland: the highest peaks of the country
Emerald hills are the most characteristic feature of Ireland’s natural landscapes. Mountains in it are much lower than in England and Scotland, but still there are quite high peaks. They are located in the highlands of the country, and their height reaches 900-1000 m. Among the highest mountains in Ireland are Carrantoil, Cnoc na Peiste, Brandon, Lughnaquilla and Galtimore. All are also known as the Morn or “Borge hills.
Other famous peaks in the country include Baertregaum, Mallaclivaun, Mangerton and Beenoskee, which are over 800 m high. Below are the main characteristics of the Irish mountain ranges, as well as the highest mountains in Ireland with photos and descriptions.
Where are the highest mountains in Ireland?
Almost all of Ireland’s highest mountains are located in County Kerry. The exceptions are Mallaclivaun and Lughnaquilla, which are in County Wicklow, and Mt. Galtimore, located on the border between Limerick and Tipperary. The two highest mountains of Ireland, Carrantouil and Knock-on-Peist, belong to the McGillicuddy’s Ridge. Baertregaum, Binoskie and Brandon are located on the Dingle Peninsula.
The mountains and hills of Ireland attract thousands of tourists every year. Because of the topography, there may be some difficulty for climbers, but most vacationers usually opt for the option of a day-long day hike or a leisurely multi-day mountain hike through the country.
The Mountains of Ireland and their Features
The names of many of Ireland’s peaks are closely tied to local legends. For example, the name of Mount Carrantoil is associated with a sickle or a fang (depending on legends). Lugnaquilla means “empty tree” and Mallaclivaun means “top of a cradle”.
According to local lore, Mount Brandon is named after the saint who lived on top of it. The ruins of a 6th-century monk’s cell can still be spotted near the top of the mountain.
The topography of Ireland is described as “saucer-shaped,” with a marshy, low-lying central area surrounded by coastal uplands. Most of the mountains have rugged slopes that were formed during the Ice Age. The slopes of Galtimore are steep, but its summit is broad, with a rounded rocky plateau. Lugnaquilla is also distinguished by the presence of an extensive rocky plateau on the summit and steep bluffs on the north and south sides.
The western slope of Mount Brandon is grassy-clay and the eastern slope is formed by glaciers. Such rocky peaks are usually called “nunatak,” from the Inuit word for rocky hills that protrude above the surface of a mountain glacier.
Fringed sandalwort, a grass that still grows here after 150,000 years, having survived the Ice Age on the tops of these mountains. The lower slopes of the mountains are surrounded by remnants of the ancient oak forests that covered the country before humans settled in this region.
Over the centuries, the coastal mountain regions of Ireland have been the cause of many territorial disputes and the site of many wars and armed conflicts, from the early Viking and Norman raids to the Northern Ireland conflicts of the late 20th century.
The northern slope of Mount Mangerton was the site of a battle in 1262 between Gaelic and Anglo-Norman forces. During World War II, amphibious troops landed on Mount Cnoc na Peiste and Brandon.
Top 10 highest mountains in Ireland
This peak of the McGillicuddy’s Ricks mountain range is the highest mountain in Ireland. Its height is 1041 meters. It is located in the county of Kerry.
The Devil’s Staircase – a route to the top of Mount Carrantuel
Made of sandstone, its steep slopes make Carrantoil quite a difficult mountain to climb in Ireland. But those who dare to climb the Devil’s Ladder to the top are rewarded with spectacular panoramas of the surrounding countryside.
Cnoc na Péiste
At 988 m, it is the fourth highest mountain in the McGillicuddy Ridge in Kerry County. Benkeragh and Caher peaks are slightly higher.
But as they are the closest to Carranthuis, “Snake Hill” is usually the second highest mountain in Ireland, as “Cnoc na Péiste” is translated. Hag’s Glen is the most successful route to climb to its summit.
Also in County Kerry, Brandon, at 952m, is the highest peak in Ireland outside McGillicuddy’s Rix. It’s on the picturesque Dingle Peninsula and is named after St. Brendan, who visited the area in the 5th century.
For hundreds of years, this mountain in Ireland has been a place of pilgrimage. The most popular route to the top of Mount Brandon is 8.85 km long and is known as the Pilgrim’s Way. It begins in the village of Clifden and runs along the eastern slope of the mountain all the way to the summit. But the more simple route, called “The Way of the Saint”, which runs from Ballybrak.
Located in the Wicklow National Park, the peak is the highest mountain in Ireland outside County Kerry. It is 925 m high, making it the highest peak in the province of Leinster.
The easiest route to the top of Lughnakill starts from the Fenton Pub in Glen Imal. Although it is called the “Tourist Route”, it passes an artillery range, so great caution and common sense should be exercised when hiking.
A shorter trail covers about 13 kilometers both ways, but another option is the 14.5-kilometer Glenmalur Loop Trail, which follows more scenic terrain through Frogan Rock Glen.
Located on the border of Limerick and South Tipperary counties, the 918-meter peak is the fifth highest mountain in Ireland. It is also the highest peak in the Galti range, which extends 32 kilometers from east to west of the country.
The grass-covered, sandstone mountain is great for hiking around Munster. The most popular route to the summit of Galtimore is known as the “Black Trail Route,” which is about 8.8 km long in both directions.
The sixth highest mountain in Ireland is located in County Kerry on the eastern edge of the Dingle Peninsula. The name “Baertregaum” means “top of the three hollows” in Irish, which probably refers to the three picturesque valleys on its slopes.
At 851 m, it is the highest and most popular peak in the Slieve Mish mountain range. The ascent route is not easy and takes about 7-8 hours.
This mountain is located in the town of Emerald Isle in Northern Ireland. At 850 m, it is the highest peak in the province of Ulster.
Slieve Donard is located on the northeastern edge of the Mourne range, and from its summit you can enjoy spectacular views of the Irish Sea. The mountain was named after St. Donard, a follower of St. Patrick, who is said to have found solitude on its summit to offer prayers.
It’s now the most attractive mountain in Ireland for tourists with the Wall of Morne and the ancient necropolis at its very summit. The route to the top of Slieve Donard begins in Donard Park and runs along the River Glen.
It is about 9 km long in both directions. But note that some sections of the trail are very steep and only accessible to people in good physical shape.
After Lughnaqill, it is the second highest mountain in the Wicklow Range and the eighth highest in the country. It rises to a height of 849 m. The ascent route to its summit begins from the town of Lacken. Near the peak is a small lake Lough Cleevaun, the name of which translates as “top of the cradle”.
Located near the town of Killarney on the edge of the national park of the same name Mangerton is the highest mountain of the range with the same name. It rises 838 meters and is characterized by a swampy, wild landscape.
The most popular route to its summit is called the Devil’s Bowl. It runs along the northwestern slope of the mountain, and its length – about 8 km. Given the swampy terrain, the trail can only be completed in good weather, when there is no rain and fog, making the path to the summit an impassable path.
This summit of the Sliv-Mish Mountains is 835 m high. It sits on the dramatic, emerald-covered Dingle Peninsula in Kerry next door to the taller Baertregaum.
This mountainous area has long been associated with Irish folklore and myth. On the southeastern slope of the mountain is an ancient fort, which gave its name to this peak in Ireland.