Knockmany wood, which gets its name from Cnoc Meanach (The Middle Hill), was looking enchanted on the day of our walk, covered in a shimmering blanket of bluebells and Doug couldn't wait to get his boots on and get started, or was he just practicing the hokey cokey, preparing for Ballina?
We had the beauty of the flora, spectacular views from the top of Knockmany, the archeological jewel that is Knockmany Cairn and for the brave, nay foolhardy, a walk (not to be repeated) through Lumford's Glen - described in the Tyrone Times as far back as November 2009 as "Death trap at Tyrone beauty spot".
Let's start with the cairn which encloses a passage grave comprising 12 massive upright stone slabs, three of which are covered with spirals, cup-marks, serpentines, concentric circles, etc. in a style known at Boyne culture. Unfortunately the site at Knockmany has been enclosed in concrete to protect the decorated stones from name-carvers and other vandals.
Known by various names including formerly Annia's Cove, by tradition this is thought to be the burial place of Baine (otherwise known as Aynia or Annia), wife of Tuathal Teachtmhar. 'The Megalithic Sepulchral Chamber of Knockmany, County Tyrone' by W F Wakeman, in the Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland for 1879 gives us this quotation:
The remarkable megalithic monument to which I refer is situated on the apex of the knock [Knockmany], and is usually styled "Aynia's Cove." Of late years a very great change has occurred in the character of the neighbouring population. Here was the country from which Carleton painted his word-pictures of Irish life and scenery. But "old times are changed, old manners gone." As a rule, within the last thirty years or so the Irish of the district have either died out or emigrated, giving place to strangers, usually Scotchmen. Nevertheless, some little of the old folk-lore, once so prevalent amongst the aborigines, is still extant, and Aynia is remembered as a "witch-wife" bythe Scotch, and as a calliagh, or hag, by the Irish. With all, the hill is a fairy haunt, and woe betide the man, woman, or child, who would dare to lift or break the smallest of the stones which now remain of the "Cove" in which Aynia, who is reported to have been elected queen of the "wee people," is said to have long delighted.
Wakeman also mentions that Knockmany ('half mountain, half knock') is a 'most conspicuous eminence' and 'so effectually surmounts all sheltering hills that it is said a day never comes there is not at least a breeze on its summit.'
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