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The granite hills of the blackstairs mountains are a famous Paragliding and hang gliding spot

They are also famously the home of the Brigantes tribe in Ptolomys map of Ireland.

On the way up to lemming yourself off for fun the black stairs mountains can have an otherworldly air about them. Theres huge boulders of sparking white quartz and loads of pink andelucite around and theres a cairn at the summit of each mountain in the range. ‘The Nine Stones’ nine prehistoric standing stones are an unusual but cool sight too.

Mist can roll in fast on the blackstairs mountains and in folk tradition the nine stones are supposed to be the grave markers of shepherds that got lost in the mist, or ones that refused to share their lunch with saint Kevin who turned them to stone in revenge. Similar stories involve fairies and dont be stingy to strangers or the otherworld will get you is the moral.

Climbing the mountain you also get the sense of what the Brigantes were like and the hard lives they must have lived. Its windy and cold and not a lot grows there. In the days when Ireland was pastoral the herds might have spent spring there when it cooled down but in an agrarian economy like medieval ireland from the 8th century they would have been very poor people.

The one thing they did have was fish, the Rivir Urrin famous for sea trout and salmon fishing springs in the blackstairs and then flows down to the river slaney. Its possible that was the Brigantes sacred river once and all the associations with salmon and knowlege and the stories of erruptions of rivers like the boyne and the shannon could be applied to their deity, the Brig later on a personal name brigid.

Irish tutelary deities are immanent rather than transcendant and the Brigantes deity would have been considered to exist as part of the river and the mountains. That old polytheist deity and her marginalised people living on the rough hard lands lived a different life it makes ours seem easy in comparason for all its stresses.

Even if it does make us fling ourselves off mountains on gliders. Theres loads of clubs and tour operators running from the blackstairs. Its well worth a blast on the weekend if youve got the cash and the guts.