15 May

"After a day’s walk, everything has twice its usual value."

GM Trevelyan


 Looking north towards Lough Conn from the Gort area of Farbreige.

Farbreaga - Fear Bréige - False Man

I'd been meaning to climb the Farbreiga for a while, so when the weather cooperated over the weekend, I took advantage of the opportunity to do so and enjoyed some spectacular views of the surrounding landscape In the process.

Farbreiga, or ‘False Man’, is situated about ten kilometres north of Castlebar, just off the main road to Pontoon. Its surrounding area takes in the local areas of Shanvoley, Gort , Largan and Massbrook. It’s a relatively easy climb to do and, depending on what you want to do after reaching the summit, it should take about 3 hours or so to do taking into account time to fully appreciate the scenery. Legend has it that the Farbreiga can be seen on the side of the mountain facing right, with his head inclined as if facing into the wind, with his right shoulder prominent. 

Two deer spotted on the bog at Bunduvowen

Leaving the car at a small lay-by in Gort, there’s nothing for it but head straight up to spot height 309. The climbing is nice, with a few steepish spots in part, and I soon reach the ridge. From here, I get my first good views of Lough Conn and Lough Cullen to the northeast, as well as the vast landscape towards the Windy Gap and Burren, Croaghmoyle area to the west. Looking out over this terrain, I could be forgiven for thinking that I was down in the Nephin Begs in Srahmore or somewhere remote given how few houses are in the place.

Looking over at Burren and Croaghmoyle through the haze from the         Farbreiga.

Walking towards the summit from hill 310.

The concrete trigonometric pillar that supports the stone cairn is the first thing I see as I reach the summit. In the past, the pillar was used to map the land via the system of triangulation. A brass plate held the theodolite on each pillar, and I could just make out that plate here beneath the stone cairn as I looked more closely. The pillars are no longer in use now due to the advances in GPS and mapping technology, but they still serve as a firm marker to identifly the spot of a mountain summit today.

The concrete pillar holding the stone cairn on the summit.

There are various ways to leave the summit, but my plan was to follow the spot heights around the horseshoe on the descent till I reached the country road that will lead me back to the car. Whilst on the summit, a few low clouds enveloped the area, obliterating the views and signalling that it was time to start moving.

  Clouds enshroud the summit looking out over hill 302.

Hill 302, about one and a half kilometers away to the west, was the next objective. The going was mostly downhill but through some wet bog, which overall wasn’t a bad section to hike. We had more great views from here, and then on to Hill 278, a rather impressive looking hill rising uniquely out of the bog.

Near hill 302 with  Lough Conn in the background.

   Nephin Mountain.

Here on hill 278, I came across another cairn. It is about the same size as the one on Farbreiga, but there is no trig pillar. The road is not far from here, and once there, it made for a pleasant stroll back to the car.

  Hill 278

The False Man 

*The name Fear Bréige ('false man') usually refers to a rock or heap of stones resembling a man. The name is a common one, being found also in the Galtees, Knockmealdowns, Ballyhoura Mountains, Comeraghs and Slieve Bloom. This occurrence of the name in North Mayo appears to be the northernmost. It is also unusual in that it applies to a very prominent hill. Most of the other occurrences apply to low hills at the end of ranges.*

As previously stated, the ’False Man’ is thought to be resting someplace on the mountain. I figured that since I was hiking Farbreiga, I'd try to locate something that looked like a ‘rocky man’. I always thought he was on the summit proper somewhere resembling a face or something man-like, but I didn't think that he might be elsewhere on the mountain.

I eventually gave up trying to match shapes to geographical features that I came across as I trekked along when I suddenly realised that I had never really had a good look at the other side of the mountain. It was only when I drove around to the Shanvoley side that I saw him. There he was lying on his side facing out with the aforementioned dominant shoulder protruding into the air. He was located on the mountain low in the left-hand corner, just above the tree line. And the more I looked the more I thought it certainly did resemble a man lying on his side. Could this be the False Man, Had I found the Farbreiga. ? 😁


 *(Irish Hill and Mountain Names  )

Carpe Diem

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