The Glen of Imaal (// or //; Irish language: Gleann Uí Mháil ) is a remote glen in the western Wicklow Mountains in Ireland. It is ringed by the Lugnaquilla massif and its foothills, including Table mountain and Keadeen. Much of the Glen is used by the Irish Army as an artillery firing range, and the many hill walkers who use the Glen are well advised to observe the times of firing practice and to refrain from picking up strange objects.
The Glen of Imaal is the subject of an eponymously titled Irish folk song, written by local musician Ian Barrett, whose musical highlight was a 4th place in the 2005 You're A Star Song Competition
It is also the place of origin of the eponymous dog breed, the Glen of Imaal Terrier.
The Glen of Imaal is named from the Uí Máil, who dominated the kingship of Leinster in the 7th century. They were ousted by the Uí Dúnlainge from the lowlands of what would be County Kildare, and from that time until the early 13th century were located along the western foothills of the Wicklow mountains. The valley appears to have been a center of their power. By the 14th century, O'Tuathail (O'Toole) (of the Uí Dunlainge) had taken the lordship of the Uí Máil, having in their turn been expelled from south Kildare by Norman incomers. Given its isolated location, it had developed a long tradition of opposition to outside centralising control.
Derrynamuck in the Glen Of Imaal is a cottage dedicated to the memory of Michael Dwyer, a celebrated 1798 leader. It is now well known as the Dwyer-McAllister cottage for it was there that a group of Irish rebels led by Michael Dwyer were hiding when they were surrounded by British troops. Samuel McAllister died when he drew enemy fire to allow Dwyer to escape, and thereby prevent further bloodshed as the British troops were killing innocent farmers in nearby cottages to reach Dwyer.
Military firing range
Much of the Glen of Imaal (5,948 acres) has been used as an army artillery range since 1900, and caution is advised when attempting to use areas within the army range. However, notices are regularly posted at key entry points as to when the army are on field exercise.
The Glen of Imaal firing range is utilised throughout the year by the Irish Army as a training area. It is the only range in the country capable of accommodating field artillery such as the 105mm Light Gun. The range area is also extremely suitable for firing anti-tank weapons, mortars and heavy machine guns, as well as the vehicle mounted weapons of the Cavalry Corps. Military training in the area is not limited to the firing of heavy weapons. Tactical exercises regularly take place there, often involving MOWAG Armoured Personnel Carriers and Irish Air Corps helicopters. Exercises in Peacekeeping Operations are a regular feature of the military calendar in the Glen. The purpose of these exercises is to prepare soldiers for overseas duty with the UN, by training them for common scenarios encountered on those missions, such as Roadside Bombs, Roadblocks, Hostile Locals, Intelligence Gathering Missions and basic liaising with local populations. Care must be taken while driving on local roads due to the presence of heavy military traffic. Units using the Glen area are normally billeted in the nearby Coolmoney Camp. The Glen of Imaal is easily accessible to the Curragh Camp in County Kildare by the Dunlavin-Old Killcullen Road.
The highest mountain in Wicklow and one of the highest mountains in Ireland, Lugnaquilla, can be accessed in the Glen with Fentons pub a common starting point. It is advisable to remember that Lugnaquilla requires some hill-walking experience to climb, and should not be attempted alone, nor when there is a possibility of dense fog. The Glen of Imaal Red Cross Mountain Rescue Team was formed in the area in 1983. It continues to serve this area and Co. Wicklow in its entirety in partnership with Dublin-Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team.
On the 15th of April 1979, a fatal accident occurred in the Glen when a group of teenagers engaging in an orienteering activity triggered an explosive which subsequently detonated, killing three and serious injuring others. The group originated from Lucan. The resultant inquiry found that the explosive was an unexploded shell which had been left in the region by the military during one of their exercises. The Minister for Defence of the 21st Dáil, Bobby Molloy, issued a statement in the chamber expressing his "personal regret" about the incident, and encouraged members of the public to avoid replicating the "tragic occurrences" by avoiding the area entirely to not encounter the shells. The deceased were buried in Esker Cemetery, and are still commemorated and mourned annually at mass services in Lucan.
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