The Chronicles of Mourne
Genre
Factual Entertainment
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Series 1

Narrated by Colin Morgan, The Chronicles of Mourne follows a year in this celebrated area of outstanding natural beauty. Beautifully filmed, each episode looks at one season and the series starts with Summer, the Mournes busiest and most popular season. The mountains are purple with heather and the resorts are bustling with visitors but the camera travels away from the crowds to reveal a hidden world that many visitors never see.

 

The programme follows hill farmers, the Murphy’s, as they move their herd of beef cattle and sheep around the mountains.  The mountains are common land and it’s a practice that has been going on for centuries. But it’s a lifestyle that’s getting harder to maintain and the Murphy’s will need to diversify to ensure the farm’s survival.  

 

On the dunes of Murlough National Nature reserve we learn about Andy Crory’s quest to record the reserves’ moth population. The reserve is home to more than 700 species of moth and butterfly and every day Andy takes a note of the Moths that have visited his Moth trap. We also meet his father Peter working with his insect of choice, bees. The summer heather offers an opportunity to make some of the tastiest honey of the year, which he sells in his shoe shop in Newcastle.  Away from the mountains, in Tollymore forest park, we meet wildlife ranger Donald Whiteside as he conducts a deer census of the local fallow deer population. He has dedicated his life to managing the forests wildlife and works at the crack of dawn to observe the Mournes more secretive inhabitants.

 

Stone plays a big part in the Mournes story and we travel up into the mountains with the local stonemasons, the Rooney’s as they make repairs to the famous Mourne wall. It’s a long term project that will see them working in every season. The summer’s milder climate gives the team a chance to work on the mountain’s highest peaks. 

 

The beauty of the Mournes is recorded by Photographer Leslie Hanthorne who goes up to capture dawn and sunset shots with his dog Buddy. He needs to capture a killer shot every month for his Mourne calendar. We learn that coming to the mountains has helped him overcome difficulties in his personal life. 

 

As thousands of visitors climb Northern Irelands highest mountain Slieve Donard, we meet Katie Taylor who helps look after and maintains the paths they walk up. She is passionate about the work despite the clouds of summer midges.

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Episode Guide

Episode 1 Narrated by Colin Morgan, The Chronicles of Mourne follows a year in this celebrated area of outstanding natural beauty. Beautifully filmed, each episode looks at one season and the series starts with Summer, the Mournes busiest and most popular season. The mountains are purple with heather and the resorts are bustling with visitors but the camera travels away from the crowds to reveal a hidden world that many visitors never see. The programme follows hill farmers, the Murphy’s, as they move their herd of beef cattle and sheep around the mountains. The mountains are common land and it’s a practice that has been going on for centuries. But it’s a lifestyle that’s getting harder to maintain and the Murphy’s will need to diversify to ensure the farm’s survival. On the dunes of Murlough National Nature reserve we learn about Andy Crory’s quest to record the reserves’ moth population. The reserve is home to more than 700 species of moth and butterfly and every day Andy takes a note of the Moths that have visited his Moth trap. We also meet his father Peter working with his insect of choice, bees. The summer heather offers an opportunity to make some of the tastiest honey of the year, which he sells in his shoe shop in Newcastle. Away from the mountains, in Tollymore forest park, we meet wildlife ranger Donald Whiteside as he conducts a deer census of the local fallow deer population. He has dedicated his life to managing the forests wildlife and works at the crack of dawn to observe the Mournes more secretive inhabitants. Stone plays a big part in the Mournes story and we travel up into the mountains with the local stonemasons, the Rooney’s as they make repairs to the famous Mourne wall. It’s a long term project that will see them working in every season. The summer’s milder climate gives the team a chance to work on the mountain’s highest peaks. The beauty of the Mournes is recorded by Photographer Leslie Hanthorne who goes up to capture dawn and sunset shots with his dog Buddy. He needs to capture a killer shot every month for his Mourne calendar. We learn that coming to the mountains has helped him overcome difficulties in his personal life. As thousands of visitors climb Northern Irelands highest mountain Slieve Donard, we meet Katie Taylor who helps look after and maintains the paths they walk up. She is passionate about the work despite the clouds of summer midges.

Episode 2 Narrated by Colin Morgan, The Chronicles of Mourne continues its look at a year in the Mournes with Autumn. After a busy summer there’s now time for reflection but there is also work to do as the Mournes human and animal inhabitants make preparations for the long winter ahead. It’s a wet and windy season, but the softer light and autumnal palate mean there is plenty of beauty around. We start in Kilbroney Forest Park as Red Squirrel Officer Shanna Rice observes Red Squirrels, some of the Mournes rarest and most illusive inhabitants, as they gather food for winter. We learn how their activity helps to regenerate the forests. In Attical the Murphy’s are bringing their livestock off the mountains and back to the farm where they will stay all winter. As the weather gets colder it’s also time for Peter Crory to move his bees off the mountain. Down on the dunes less and less Moths are coming to Andy Crory's moth trap, but Andy is also a keen bird watcher and as the numbers of moths fall, migrating sea birds begin to arrive. In the forests, the leaves are changing colour and photographer Leslie Hanthorne is able to capture some spectacular shots for his calendar. Elsewhere in the forest we meet mountain biker Glyn O’Brien as he attempts to beat ageing by bombing about through the fallen leaves. We also lean about the volunteers of the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team, who work all year to provide immediate first aid and assistance. Up in the Mountains, Ranger Katie Taylor is carrying out a heathland survey and we learn about the work being done to regenerate the areas ecologically important bog lands. The programme ends with Halloween, a chance to celebrate and remember spooky stories and Mourne folklore that has been passed down through the generations.

Episode 3 Winter is arguably the Mourne’s most visually magical season as snow and ice transform the mountains and forests into a winter wonderland reminiscent of “Narnia”. As the Mournes goes to sleep only the hardiest souls venture out to appreciate it’s stark beauty. But the cold weather can also be hard to deal with and spring can feel a long way off. After a wet and windy Autumn, the race is on to replace the Mourne wall’s capping stones, before bad weather makes it too dangerous to work on the peaks. With the help of helicopters, the team lift the stones from the quarries up to the wall. It’s a balletic sight as tons of granite swing beneath the helicopters before they are expertly placed by the wall. In the Tollymore forest park, wildlife Ranger Donald Whiteside is managing the deer population by reducing numbers. In a difficult and moving scene Donald explains why culling is necessary and how it effects him emotionally. Up in the mountains the weather can be brutal, but work has to go on and while the Mourne Wall restoration team tries to make the wall secure, Katie Taylor continues work on the Glen River path. Not even sleet and rain can dent her enthusiasm. The first big fall of snow brings great excitement, as climbers and artists gather to relish in the beauty and test their endurance. Photographer Leslie Hanthorne and his Dog Buddy are also here. Maybe this year Leslie can capture a sunset snow scape over Ben Crom. A shot he’s been trying to get for the last 8 years. On the Murphy’s farm they are preparing for Christmas and while Maeve’s grandchildren help her decorate the tree, Sean looks after the cattle who are now sheltering inside the sheds. Christmas is a magical time but it can also be difficult. In Kilkeel, we meet Hurling Coach Joe Baldwin who is preparing to walk up Knockchree and hit a hurling ball in tribute to his son Conal, who tragically died on Christmas Eve. The programme goes with him on his annual pilgrimage and we learn how the mountains are helping him deal with his grief.

Episode 4 It’s the last episode of the series and after a long hard winter, spring has finally come to the Mournes. Everywhere you look there are signs of new life and the season enthuses the whole area with an energy and optimism. A new year has begun and the people of Mourne and getting ready for another busy summer. The programme begins in March and while the trees are still bare, on the Murphy’s farm there are plenty of signs that spring has arrived. Its lambing season and there are also new calves. As well as this Conor and Clare are expecting a new baby and work has begun building the holiday cottages. It really is the beginning of a new era on the farm In Tollymore forest park Donald Whiteside is preparing for tree harvesting by marking areas that need to be protected from the big logging machines. He shows us a badger set that is over 100 years old. As the weather warms up the forest floors get transformed into a carpet of blue. It’s a favourite time of year for Photographer Leslie Hanthorne who feels rejuvenated after the long hard winter. Soon he will print his calendar, the culmination of a year’s hard work. Peter Crory is looking after his bees, not all of them have made it through the winter but he is in good spirits as he prepares to move the hives up to their summer home on Spencer mountain. Elsewhere Red Squirrel office Shanna Rice is in Rostrevor, enjoying watching the sibling rivalry between this year’s Red Squirrel Kits. There is also great excitement as the forest at Silent Valley gets ready to welcome what is believed to be their first Red Squirrels for over 10 years. On the mountains, stone masons Brian and Andy Rooney show us how they split granite ready for the next helicopter lift to the Mourne Wall. On Wee Binnian stone is lifted from the Rooney’s Grandfather’s farm. Their Grandfather helped build the original wall 100 years ago and using stone from his land to repair the wall today feels like a fitting tribute. We also meet Dorothea Robertson who is preparing to climb up Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard. She lost her husband to cancer 4 years ago and has only just finished treatment for breast cancer herself. The walk is in aid of the charity Cancer Focus and we follow Dorothea and her friend Rosie as they embark on an emotional moonlit climb to the summit. The programme ends with the release of Red Squirrels into Silent Valley. It’s a symbolic moment, the start of a new generation. As the squirrels explore their new home, the programmes characters ponder what makes the Mournes so special and why it is worth preserving for future generations to enjoy.


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