Golden Light in the Sperrins, Spurs and Geography

Northern Ireland's Sperrins, Irish Mountains in Golden Sunlight Northern Ireland's Sperrins, Irish Mountains in Golden Sunlight

The Sperrins are Northern Ireland's most extensive upland area, the mountains are very low reaching only 678m at Sawel with very little prominence.

Here they are seen at sunset with bright golden winter sunlight under a fine sky.

This is an isolated area, often cut off by winter snows and with almost no public transport but few people live in the Sperrins.

Farming is the mainstay of the local economy and the Sperrins retain a traditional charm that much of the rest of Ireland has lost over the years due to, in places, uncontrolled rural development.

According to a few sources the Sperrins take their name from the Irish Sliabh Speirín which, they say, means mountains of little rocky spurs or little pinnacles.

Another name for the Sperrins in irish was Sliabh Síos meaning the down mountains, low mountains.

I haven't got all of my sources together but I would doubt that rocky is really part of the meaning of the name, it's likely just to be little spurs. The ín is a diminutive in Irish and means little.

Neither is the name likely to mean little pinnacles, pinnacle has its own name in Irish which is binn or barr.

Also, there are no pinnacles in the Sperrins, these are a low, boggy mountain range with little rock outcropping and no tors; a pinnacle is a piece of pointed rock situated far above the surrounding ground.

Interestingly, spéir is the Irish word for sky but would not appear to be the source for the name of the Sperrins.

When we look at the map of the Sperrins, we can see a long ridge of mountains with many spurs running at tangents towards lower ground.

A spur is usually defined as "a high piece of land that sticks out from a mountain or a mountain range" in places like a tongue sticking out.

A spur on a map will be easy to spot, it sits at an angle to the main ridge of mountains and its contours will be widely spaced but surrounded by steeply sided contours.

Have a look at the embedded map showing the main mountain ridge, spurs and the concept of spurs, thus the origin of the name, should be more clear.

Not all mountains or mountain ranges have spurs.

The Sperrins are a place that I often photograph.

Join me, Panoramic Ireland, for a photography workshop in the Sperrins or anywhere else in Ireland. Use the Contact page to ask any questions or leave a comment below.

Last modified on Friday, 31 January 2020 13:40
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