Benbulbin. Mountain in Ireland, Europe


Mountain in Ireland, Europe

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Benbulbin, also known as Ben Bulben or Benbulben, is a rock formation that is part of the Dartry Mountains in what is often referred to as "Yeats Country" in County Sligo (Wikipedia Article), Ireland. The mountain had gotten its moniker from the Irish "Binn Ghulbain". Binn means "peak" or "mountain" and Ghulbain is "beak" or "jaw", which translates to beak peak or alternately jaw peak.

Benbulbin is a popular climbing destination for many tourists and is a protected site as designated by the County Geological Site of Sligo County Council. The northern face is known to be quite treacherous as it receives the majority of the high winds and storms from the Atlantic Ocean. The southern side has a gentler incline that slopes up evenly, allowing for a much easier hike. Once at the summit, there are sweeping views of the coastal plain and the Atlantic Ocean.


Benbulbin was formed during the Ice Age, nearly 320 million years ago, as a large plateau composed of limestone and mudstone. During this time, Ireland was under glaciers and as they moved from northeast to southwest, they eventually shaped the steep ridges that are seen on Benbulbin's mountainside today. If you search hard enough, you will find that there are still fossilized shells and coral that can be found from the time when Benbulbin was located in shallow sea.


Like many other places in Ireland, Benbulbin is the bearer of many Irish Legends. One of the folktales states that Benbulbin was the hunting ground of a collection of warriors called the Fianna (Wikipedia Article) during the 3rd-century. Further, legend states that a great warrior named Diarmuid Ua Duibhne (Wikipedia Article) was tricked by the giant, Fionn mac Cumhaill, (see Giant's Causeway) into fighting an enchanted boar. The boar won the fight and murdered Diarmuid by piercing his heart with a tusk. It is said that Benbulbin was Diarmuid's final resting place.


Benbulbin has a rather sordid history. In 1922 during the Irish Civil War, the armored car of the Irish Republican Party was cornered and destroyed by another armored car belonging to the Irish Free State's National Army. The six IRA men climbed the slopes of Benbulbin and were killed after peacefully surrendering. Historically, these men are now referred to as the "Noble Six".

Flora and Fauna

Fringed Sandwort
The mountain is home to many unique species, including some found nowhere else in Ireland. At the top of Benbulbin are Arctic-alpine plants that were deposited upon the site when the glaciers that covered Ireland melted in the Ice Age. One in particular is the Fringed Sandwort. It has survived since the Ice Age and the species is believed to potentially be 100,000 years old. These plants manage to survive on the mountain due to its elevation which creates cooler temperatures than those that are found elsewhere on the Isle. There are also many wild hares and foxes to be seen if you keep a look out.

Getting There

Benbulbin is located in County Sligo, near the western coast of Ireland. From Dublin, it is a 2 hour and 35 minutes drive. From Galway, expect close to 2 hours, and from Belfast in Northern Ireland, the drive will take about 2 hours 30 minutes.
To climb Benbulbin, there is a paved pathway up the south face to the east near Glencar Waterfall.

Nearby Sights

While in County Sligo visiting Benbulbin it is also suggested to see Sligo Abbey, Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetary, and Dunmoran Strand.

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Author: ashley.minor. Last updated: Aug 11, 2014


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