A major new development has been revealed, and a famous landmark could be getting a facelift, following the establishment of a local conservation group, who are dedicated to restoring O’Doherty’s Keep in Swan Park, Buncrana, as well as the construction of a visitor and heritage centre, and landscaped gardens on the site.The background work for this exciting local project has been in preparation for some time, and the group have now agreed a long-term lease with the owner.With the encouragement and permission of the National Monuments Service and Office of Public Works to move ahead, the group are pleased with the positive response and interest shown so far. Speaking about the project, spokesperson for the development group Ronan O’Doherty said, “The first phase of the project includes sensitive but essential investigations and surveying of the Keep itself and the adjacent site, by specialists including conservation architects, archaeologists, ecologists, quantity surveyors and structural engineers. It will involve topographical land survey as well as laser scanning of the monument.”“This phase of the project will take some 4-5 months to complete which will result in the compilation of a comprehensive Conservation Plan for the Keep and surrounding site and will form the basis of future plans.”“This feasibility study will cost money however, and while funds are available from various sources, such as LEADER, we have an obligation to raise funds ourselves, and to put it into context, we will require approximately €50,000 to complete feasibility study alone through a combination of private and public funds.” “But we are really excited by the project, and we believe that the site is of such historic significance locally, and in terms of the origins of the O’Doherty name, that there is merit in what we are trying to achieve. We are calling on the O’Doherty Clan, as well as local people and the worldwide diaspora to assist us in reaching our fundraising goals.”“We have set up a crowdfunding site, which has just gone live as well as a website, to bring attention to the cause. We will also be hosting an open night to give the public an outline of our plans for the site.”The small castle, or keep, is closely associated with the origins of the town of Buncrana, and was occupied by Sir Cahir O’Dochartaigh, who rebelled against crown forces and sacked the city of Derry, before being killed by English forces at the Battle of Kilmacrennan. Following his death, the Keep was granted to Sir Arthur Chichester, who leased it to Englishman Henry Vaughan.Further restoration work was carried out by the Vaughan family who occupied the keep until 1718. Further information on the project can be found at www.odohertyskeep.com. Featured image taken by Kateri Stewart.Restoration work hoped for 400-year-old Buncrana Keep was last modified: July 17th, 2017 by Elaine McCalligShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:buncranahistoryo dohertys keepsir cahir o dochartaigh
Austin roots rockers Uncle Lucius forge their own path on their latest release.It didn’t take long for me to figure out that the guys in Uncle Lucius were all right.A few years back, I was involved with booking the band for the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. While the band was in town, they agreed to play an extra show at a local auditorium . . . . full of elementary school students. Now, being an elementary teacher myself, anyone who reaches out to kids gets a special nod from me, particularly when hanging out with school age children might be out of that person’s comfort zone. These fellas were up early and ready to perform at a time that usually doesn’t register on a rock band’s clock. By all accounts, the students and the band had an excellent time and I have been following the band ever since.Uncle Lucius returns this month with a brand new record and a new approach to recording. Having gotten shut of their record label, the band ventured out on their own limb and produced what is, in my mind, their best collection of tunes to date.I recently caught up with band members Jon Grossman and Kevin Galloway to chat about the new record, the freedom of recording without a label, and who exactly Uncle Lucius is.And, down below, Trail Mix is happy to be offering the premiere of a brand new track from The Light.BRO – No record label, no problem. How’s it feel to be out there doing things your own way and calling your own shots?JG – A little like I imagine a skydiver feels – exhilaration and joy mixed in with primal terror. Freedom has its perks, but the big catch to working without a net is the very real chance of falling. As an artist, I feel more authentic taking the risk on personally. Record labels have a parental vibe about them – they make the tough decisions for you, they provide you with whatever they think you need. They’re a buffer between you and the real world. Doing it ourselves feels like a teenager who’s moving out on his own for the first time, ready to take on the slings and arrows.BRO – All the guys in your band write songs. How do you make sure that all of the best ideas rise to the top without stepping on anyone’s toes?JG – It’s delicate business, a ballet of sorts. The key is remembering that the band has a vision and aesthetic that’s distinct from any of our individual selves. Though it’s not exactly inscribed in stone, we all have a sense of our collective identity, and we strive to serve that in lieu of our personal agendas. I usually know pretty quickly if a song I’m working on is worthy of the band. There are no quotas or guidelines, though. The best song wins, regardless of who wrote it.BRO – Who are some of your favorite Texas bands right now?JG – So many great musicians down here, so in particular order . . . Quaker City Nigh Hawks, a real rock ‘n roll outfit from Fort Worth. Blue Healer, out of Austin, has a great mix of modern synthy sounds with the kind of songwriting country music is rightfully lauded for. Unfaithful Servants, also out of Austin, are also terrific. Midnight River Choir hold it down, as do The Bigsbys from Palestine. Look out for The New Offenders, out of Houston. You said bands, but you can’t forget songwriters like Jonathan Terrell, Lew Card, and Carson McHone, just to name a few.BRO – We are featuring “The Light” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song?KG – This song began as a rhetorical question into the source of who I am. Its answer is in line with my own opinions about the nature of things. It is inquiry into motivation, reaction and intention, and a realization that conditioning and tradition run our lives, as we are creatures of habit. It a bit of a mantra that asserts the possibility of evolving beyond our current state of comfort and limitation by acting intentionally rather than reacting according to learned behaviors. It’s a belief that the power lies with the individual and a call to take personal responsibility, to not rely on someone else’s answers.BRO – Uncle Lucius . . . would he be more like the cool uncle that might give me a nip of moonshine at the family reunion or the creepy uncle that I really don’t want to sit next to a Thanksgiving dinner?JG – Those sound like the same guy! He might seem creepy at first, but that’s just the kind of prejudice a moonshine packing uncle has come to expect. I like to think of him as a kind of optical illusion. From one angle, he appears to be a jolly old sage, frothing over with wisdom and insight. In another light, he’s just a babbling drunk, laughing at imaginary conversations and drooling on himself. Spinal Tap would have you believe there’s a fine line between stupid and clever, but I find the two states are really the same. Lucius is the uncle that would impart great wisdom on his nieces and nephews, but for the fact that none of their parents would trust him alone with their kids.Uncle Lucius is out on the road now to celebrate the release of The Light. Fans out in Texas can catch them in Wichita Falls on June 18th, Lubbock on June 19th, and Amarillo on June 20th. More Texas dates follow, and you can find out when the band hits a stage near you right here.This week, Trail Mix is also excited to offer you a brand new tune from the brand new record. Premiering right here is “End of 118.” Enjoy, and make sure to take a listen to “The Light” on this month’s Trail Mix.
To celebrate America’s unparalleled national park system, we’re highlighting the best of our three iconic national parks here in Appalachia: Shenandoah, the Smokies, and the iconic parkway that connects them.Shenandoah National Park, VirginiaEstablished: December 26, 1935Size: 197,438 acresPeak: Hawksbill Mountain—4,049’Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley has long attracted human interest. Its plethora of natural resources like water, minerals, and fertile soil nurtured early Native American populations. Unsurprisingly, when 18th century European trappers first laid eyes on the valley’s rolling ridges and open meadows, they saw opportunity. Though Shenandoah’s 300 square-miles would later see decades of logging and mines, it was that bounty of natural beauty that eventually secured the valley’s national park status in 1935.Now, visitors can experience Shenandoah’s storied past by way of the park’s 500-plus miles of hiking trails, 101 of which include the Appalachian Trail (another National Park unit under the National Scenic Trail designation). Amid the fields of wildflowers and rhododendron tunnels runs Skyline Drive, the 105-mile backbone of Shenandoah National Park. The only public road through the park, Skyline’s paved route is popular among Sunday drivers and road cyclists, especially during peak fall colors.Top Treks in Shenandoah 1. Old Rag, Nethers, VirginiaLikely the most popular hike in Shenandoah, the vistas atop Old Rag draw a crowd every weekend, regardless of the season. The circuit itself is certainly no walk in the park—it’s about eight miles round-trip with a steep section of rock scrambling that becomes even more heinous in wet and wintry conditions. Yet for those of us seeking solace in the woods, the trail will be the least of your problems. If you can bare the fraternity groups and middle school field trips you’ll likely find on any given weekend, the textbook Blue Ridge views at the summit are entirely worth the sweat. Avoid weekends and holidays, get up early, or play hooky to beat the crowds. Parking at the Old Rag trailhead is limited, so consider carpooling or hitchhiking (we encourage both). Camping is prohibited above 2,800 feet, and all backcountry campers are required to obtain a permit.2. White Oak Canyon, Syria, VirginiaShenandoah’s steep terrain certainly lends itself to rocks, on the one hand, but also tight and twisting streams, gentle cascades, and pounding waterfalls. Whiteoak Canyon is a little bit of all of that. With a total of six waterfalls ranging in height from 35 to 86 feet, the canyon is a mecca for swimming holes, but don’t expect to have the place to yourself. Though not as popular as nearby Dark Hollow Falls, Whiteoak Canyon is rarely empty on a hot summer’s day, and with good reason—the large pool at the bottom of the lower falls is deep, easily accessible, and the perfect place to cool off mid-hike. Climb the trail to the upper falls for a scenic view from above and an extra mile or two to your trip. This out-and-back hike is 4.9 miles round-trip from the parking lot off Skyline Drive at milepost 42.6 to the upper falls and back. The trail can be tricky at times, but is well-maintained and family friendly.3. Austin Mountain—Furnace Mountain Loop, Crozet, VirginiaWith challenging climbs, panoramic scenes, and creek crossings, this 13.3-mile hike embodies all that we love about Shenandoah National Park. Starting from Browns Gap parking lot off Skyline Drive at milepost 82.9, the climb begins gradually as you saunter up Madison Run Fire Road but quickly steepens once you cross Madison Run Creek (a wild brook trout haven, for all you anglers out there). Serious hikers can knock this trip out in a long day, completing the loop by way of the Appalachian Trail. For those looking to break the trip up over the course of two days, there’s a killer campsite big enough for a tent and some hammocks at the summit of Furnace Mountain. During peak thru-hiker season, you may encounter a few scraggly thru-hikers making their way along the white blaze, but for the most part, the difficulty and distance of this hike keep the crowds at bay.4. Overall Run Falls, Bentonville, VirginiaAt 93 feet, Overall Run Falls is the tallest waterfall in the park. Couple that with a hike that takes you through an area with pristine swimming holes and the highest concentration of black bears, and and you’ve got your new weekend go-to. Make a loop out of the normal 4.7-mile out-and-back by connecting Beecher Ridge, where you’re likely to sight that black bear we mentioned. The Beecher Ridge-Overall Run loop is only 8.5 miles total, but you’ll want to leave plenty of time to soak in the sights of Massanutten Mountain and Page Valley. Keep an eye out for side trails that lead to small campsites—you can extend your trip into a short overnighter by parking off Chrisman Road and following Heiskell Hollow Trail to its intersection with Mathews Arm Trail and the Tuscarora-Overall Run Trail. This 12.7-mile alternative hides homestead ruins in its undergrowth for those interested in the park’s history. Visit in early spring, or even winter, when heavy rains and snowmelt make the falls surge!Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tenn., N.C.Established: June 15, 1934Size: 522,427 acresPeak: Clingmans Dome— 6,643’Of the country’s 59 national parks, Great Smoky Mountains sees the highest annual visitation. In 2013 alone, more than 9.4 million visitors came to the park—that’s twice that of Grand Canyon National Park, which comes in with the second highest visitation at 4.6 million. Despite its popularity, the 800 square-miles of rugged land between North Carolina and Tennessee are some of the wildest areas east of the Mississippi. Finding solitude amid the Smokies’ 16 6,000-plus-foot peaks (and 850 miles of trail) is hardly a challenge, if you’re willing to work for it.These high-elevation summits shelter more than great adventure. Some 1,600 species of flowering plants have made the Smokies their home, and from mid-June through mid-July, the mountainsides are covered in brilliant displays of mountain laurel, rhododendron, and azalea in bloom. The symbol of the Smokies, the American black bear serves as yet another example of the park’s inherent remoteness. With more than 1,500 bears patrolling the park’s interior, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the largest protected bear habitat in the East.Like a cherry on an adventurously decadent sundae, the park and all of its natural glory are free to the public. It’s one of the few parks in the country that does not charge an entrance fee.Top Treks in the Smokies1. Charlies Bunion, Gatlinburg, TennesseeStand atop Charlies Bunion and experience the wonder that inspired Bryson City writer Horace Kephart to advocate for the creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Roughly 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail run through the Smokies, and it’s the A.T.’s white blazes you’ll follow to reach the dramatic rock outcropping that is Charlies Bunion. Begin at Newfound Gap parking lot, the site of President Franklin Roosevelt’s park dedication ceremony in 1934. From there, you’ll climb 1,600 feet over the course of four miles. It’s a butt-buster, so take your time. You’ll know you’ve arrived at Charlies Bunion when you spy a spur trail forking off to the left. The trail dead-ends into a sheer drop-off that will drop your jaw. Watch your footing when you’re posing for a selfie.2. Abrams Falls, Tallassee, TennesseeSaunter beneath pine-oak forests before descending into a lush world of hemlock groves and rhododendron thickets on this five-mile round-trip hike to Abrams Falls. The falls are only 20 feet in height, but their power is real. Naturally dammed by deadfall and rock, the otherwise idle Abrams Creek surges to life here. The pool below the falls looks appealing to swim in, and it is, but be forewarned—many injuries have occurred in the area surrounding the falls due to slick rock and hidden roots. Anglers will enjoy the wide, lazy bends in the creek around 1.6 miles in, so pack a rod. Though there are no designated camping sites in the immediate areas surrounding the Abrams Falls Trail, there are a few options on nearby Rabbit Creek Trail and Hannah Mountain Trail.3. Mount Cammerer, Cosby, TennesseeRising above the northeastern fringe of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mount Cammerer practically straddles the North Carolina and Tennessee border. Named for Arno Cammerer, who served as Director for the National Park Service from 1933 until 1940, Mount Cammerer is two parts beauty, one part history. At the height of this 4,928-foot mountain looms a lookout tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930s. Hikers can access the summit and tower by way of Low Gap Trail, which eventually links up to the A.T. A short spur trail leads to the mountain’s proper summit as well as 360-degree views of neighboring peaks like Mount Sterling, Snowbird Mountain, and below, the Pigeon River Gorge. Plan for a long day on the trail, as the out-and-back trek totals 11 miles.4. Ramsey Cascades, Gatlinburg, TennesseeThe 100-foot Ramsey Cascades, the tallest waterfall in the park, is certainly a sight worth seeing, but it’s the stands of old-growth forest that really make this hike spectacular. It’s an eight-mile out-and-back hike and it’s tough, steadily climbing 2,200 feet to the base of the falls. During the last two miles before you reach Ramsey Cascades, giant tulip trees, basswoods, silverbells, and yellow birches emerge from the forest. Be on the lookout for red maple, white oak, and black cherry trees of substantial size, too—some of the park’s tallest trees will be all around you. Use the Greenbrier entrance to the Smokies to access this special gem.Blue Ridge Parkway, Va., N.C.Established: June 30, 1936, completed 1987Size: 469 milesPeak: Richland Balsam Overlook, N.C.—6,047’The Blue Ridge Parkway is more than just a road. It’s a park, a ribbon of adventure, a physical map of times long past. It does more than provide access to the mountains it connects— it protects them, too. Winding for 469 miles from central Virginia to western North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway seamlessly joins Shenandoah National Park with Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With nearly 300 overlooks and hundreds more trail access points, the parkway is a never-ending source for inspiration, recreation, and even education. Along the way, drivers will see prehistoric and early settlement infrastructure as well as traces of industries that once fueled Appalachia. Drive, bike, or hike through the decades and along the parkway that pays homage to the mountains we hold so dear.Top Treks Along the Blue Ridge Parkway1. Rough Ridge, Boone, North CarolinaShort on time? Need a new leaf peeping spot? The Rough Ridge Overlook is your answer. Just a short, but steep, trek from the parking lot reveals a sprawl of mountain ranges filing one behind the other as far as the eye can see. It’s enough of a scene to make you feel small and insignificant. Even the Linn Cove Viaduct, visible from the summit of Rough Ridge, is dwarfed in the shadow of Grandfather Mountain. The boardwalks and stairs seem unnatural, but are meant to protect the fragile mountain-heather ecosystem that carpets the hillside. The path is part of the 13-mile Tanawha Trail, which parallels the parkway between Julian Price Park and Beacon Heights. If you have a second vehicle, you can extend your hike up Rough Ridge to include more of the Tanawha system.2. Apple Orchard Falls, Buchanan, VirginiaThis 5.6-mile loop around Apple Orchard Falls is a cure-all for even the worst of hot summer days. The trail is cool and shady from the canopy above, with multiple creek crossings and opportunities to splash your face. The falls themselves, which tumble some 200 feet down house-sized rocks, usually always have water, regardless of the amount of recent rainfall. This particular loop is easily doable in a day, but why rush it? There are ample amount of campsites sprinkled throughout the forest, and with such ready access to water, you can easily set up a base camp and explore other sections on Cornelius Creek and the Appalachian Trail.Best of the RestBOOGERMAN TRAIL, situated in Cataloochee Valley, is named not for the Boogeyman but, rather, Robert Palmer, one of the few locals who refused to allow timber companies to log on his property during the early 1900s. Thanks to Palmer, whose childhood nickname “Boogerman” carried into adulthood, this trail shelters some of the tallest trees in the Cataloochee Valley.BIG BUTT Mountain and Trail rises above Buncombe and Haywood counties in North Carolina. In geographic lingo, “butt” refers to an abrupt end of a ridge or mountain. Consequently, the landscape here is craggy with rock fins and abutments around every corner.CHARLIES BUNION is a rock outcropping from which you can view Mount Le Conte on a clear day. Horace Kephart supposedly penned the name in 1929 during a hike with Swain County native Charlie Conner, photographer George Masa, and others. During a break, Conner removed his boots and exposed a bunion that, to Kephart, looked every bit as impressive as the surrounding rock features. Kephart reportedly told Conner, “Charlie, I’m going to get this place put on a government map for you.”STANDING INDIAN looms nearly 5,500 feet above the southern Nantahala Forest. Its summit is the tallest peak south of the Smokies. Legend has it that the mountain takes its name from a sentinel, a Cherokee Indian warrior sent to the summit to keep watch for the winged monster that had stolen a child. The watchman turned to stone when a lightning storm struck the mountain, killing the monster and creating the treeless summit for which Standing Indian is known.PEAKS OF OTTER in Virginia would, you think, reference a native river otter population residing in the 24-acre Abbott Lake, yet there are no known otters in the area. The most commonly accepted explanation for the name stems back to Charles and Robert Ewing, two brothers who came to the area from Scotland around 1700. Supposedly, the Ewing brothers named a number of streams and hills after destinations in their home country. “Otter” is used quite frequently in Scotland place names.GRAVEYARD FIELDS in North Carolina is just that—a haunting reminder of times long past. Once a seemingly impenetrable evergreen forest, a freak windstorm several hundred years ago uprooted the spruce forest leaving only stumps in its wake. With two detrimental fires in 1925 and again in the 1940s, as well as the presence of logging in the area, the present-day open expanse is the result of natural and manmade forces alike.OLD RAG is anything but a decrepit piece of cloth. Sometimes called “Old Ragged Top,” Old Rag Mountain received its name due to the irregular ridgeline and unusually rocky nature.STONY MAN is, you guessed it, a mountain with a lot of stones that looks a little bit like a bearded man. No one knows who first dubbed the summit “Stony Man,” but by 1895, the name was commonplace.MCAFEE KNOB is well known among hikers for its stunning, panoramic views of the surrounding Catawba Valley, Roanoke Valley, Tinker Cliffs, and North Mountain, but did you know that the summit itself takes its name from James McAfee? McAfee was a Scots-Irish immigrant who settled in the Catawba Valley in the late 1730s.THE PRIEST is certainly holy in its grandeur. It stands some 4,000 feet above Nelson County, Va. While some theories suggest The Priest was named after the DuPriest family that lived in the area, many others believe a local minister saw the nearby mountain peaks like a church away from church. The Cardinal and The Friar are neighboring peaks to The Priest, and together, these summits form the Religious Range.
QUICK HITSAnother red wolf shot • Repair is radical • 9-year-old sets running record • Lost cat found 700 miles awayTHE DIRTTrump and the outdoors • Conservative outdoor caucus • Craig Dodson leads Richmond’s urban cycling squad • Hatfield-McCoy Marathon celebrates the region’s oldest family feudFLASHPOINTThe South’s most iconic tree species—including ash, sycamore, and dogwood—are besieged by pests and disease. What does the future hold for our forests?EPILEPTIC THRU-HIKERIn the spring of 2014, 28-year-old Alex Newlon headed for Springer Mountain determined to complete a northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.LOCALS ONLYHow to glean the best adventure beta from resident experts who keep it secret. WHAT’S NEW AT THE NEW?The New River Gorge Area in southern West Virginia has long been recognized for its outstanding whitewater and climbing scene. But what does the future hold for this recreation hub?BLACK METAL IN THE BLUE RIDGEFor today’s Appalachian black metal artists, the link between nature and their music is real and authentic.THE GOODSGeorgia running badass Erick White dishes his favorite trail gear.TRAIL MIXRaw and Sync—a double dose of Fredericksburg native Keller Williams.DIRTY DOZENThese twelve tough events should be on everyone’s bucket list for 2017. Do you have what it takes to tackle these challenges?WHY I RUNWhat drives record-chasers and elite athletes to go faster and farther? Four elite ultrarunners from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic share their secrets.PLAY TOGETHER, STAY TOGETHERChris Olson and his wife lived in a tent together for an entire summer—and they’re still married. Here is their field-tested advice for outdoor couples.
In the year 1974 former President Jimmy Carter was the Governor of Georgia. That same year, he took a trip down the Chattooga River in an open-faced aluminum canoe with American Rivers founder Claude Terry that culminated in the first-ever tandem canoe descent of the infamous Bull Sluice rapid.Shortly after this run, Carter used his status as governor to push through legislation that would ultimately designate all 57 miles of the the Chattooga River as Wild and Scenic, permanently preventing any dam building or development along the wild river’s scenic banks.To this day, thanks in large part to Carter’s efforts, the Chattooga River remains the crown jewell of the entire Southeastern river system. As president, Carter would go on to protect many more rivers throughout the U.S and veto sixteen different dam projects across the country.This short but powerful film from NRS recounts that infamous day in 1974 when a sitting governor took on the some of the most intense rapids in his state and lived to tell the tale.