The Galtee Mountains
The Galtee Mountains are an isolated Mountain Range forming a prominent landscape feature for miles around. They are composed of sedimentary rock, mainly Old Red Sandstone and Silurian slates and shales. The Old Red Sandstone was laid down about 400 million years ago. The red colour is due to the presence of an iron oxide. Subsequently when Ireland was covered by water, a bed of limestone was formed over the sandstone. A major period of earth movement (Armorican Folding) about 50 million years later caused the Old Red Sandstone to be pushed up through the limestone to form the present Mountain Range. During the Ice Ages which began 10 million years ago, the Galtees were heavily moulded by large Ice Sheets and Glaciers.
These eroded the hilltops and carved out spectacular relief features (tors and cols) high up on the mountain sides and formed a number of corrie lakes (e.g. Lough Muskerry). The highest peak is Galteemore which rises to 919m above sea level. The mountain tops are now quite bare and used mainly for grazing sheep. In the past cattle were taken up into the mountains during the summer months to take advantage of the summer pasture. This practice was known as booleying or transhumance. The people minding the cattle lived in small booley huts, the remains of which lie scattered in the more isolated valleys of the ran
Galtee Castle, in the picturesque Galtee Woods, was a wonderful hunting lodge designed about 1810 by the famous English architect, John Nash. Lady Chatterton said of it in 1838, that it was a ‘most comfortable abode, in the midst of wild mountain scenery…. the views from the sweet jessamine-curtained windows of the drawing room put me in mind of some of the smaller Swiss valleys but with an impression of greater solitude and seclusion.’
Galtee Castle was purchased by a Lancashire cotton millionaire, Nathaniel Buckley, in 1873, and was greatly modified by his son in the 1890s. In 1940, its roof was removed and the building demolished. Its stone was used to build the Catholic parish church at Glanworth, County Cork.