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OUR IRISH HONEYMOON JOURNEY, September 2004

For our honeymoon, we spent a few days in the norh-west of Ireland. We may not have been blessed with endless sunshine, but only one day was really wet and the warmth with which we were received almost everywhere (apart from Ballyjamesduff) made up for any shortcomings in the weather.

After an overnight stay in Belfast, we drove to Larne and then travelled along the famous Antrim Coast Road. The first picture has the distinction of being Thelma's first with a digital camera, and was taken near Glenarm. It shows the beginnings of our personal rainbow, which led the way for several hours. The second photograph shows it, in all its glory, over Carnlough.

We didn't get many more worthwhile pictures on the first day but, despite the poor weather, we enjoyed the journey through the Barnesmore Gap in the Blue Stack Mountains on our way to our next resting place, the Great Northern Hotel in Bundoran, Co Donegal.

We spent the next day in South Donegal. Unfortunately, the rain was persistent and, with a cloud base at about 300 feet, there was no opportunity to marvel at Sliabh Liag, the highest sea cliffs in Europe. We did, however, spend time in Killybegs (Ireland's premier fishing port) and at Father McDyer's Heritage Centre in Glencolumcille.

Pictured below is part of the fleet in harbour at Killybegs.

Antrim coast road near Glenarm
Rainbow over Carnlough
Part of the fishing fleet at
		Killybegs Killybegs, Co
		Donegal (2)
Inscribed stone,
		Glencolumcille

We drove through the clouds on narrow mountain roads to reach Glencolumcille. The bleak high moorland is dotted with reminders of an earlier age, such as this Celtic Christian inscribed stone.

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The visit to the Heritage Centre at the "back of beyond" was a highlight of our holiday. It consists of a mini-village of cottages built and furnished as they were in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. All the contents have come from the local area and the whole place was built by local, voluntary labour. As well as houses there is a shop, tea room, crafts etc. Well worth a visit. Find out more on their website at www.glenfolkvillage.com

Glencolumcille 1 Glencolumcille 2

In total contrast to the wet and cloudy experience in South Donegal was our visit to Achill Island, Ireland's largest offshore island. It was a beautiful, sunny day, as can be seen from our photos. The first picture shows Newport, Co Mayo, on our way to Achill. The second, of Clew Bay (an island for every day of the year) is a bit of cheating - it was taken by Peter in 1988.

Newport, Co Mayo Clew Bay, Co Mayo
lady with camera

We travelled to the farthest extremity of Achill that is accesible by car, Keem Bay. Thelma appears in the photo on the left as "Lady with Camera" and below as herself, just above sea level, with the view southwards behind her.

Keem Bay, Achill Island

All around this part of Ireland are reminders of the hardships of the past, especially the famine years of the mid-19th century. On Achill, there is an extensive deserted linear village on the slopes of Slievemore. Unfortunately we did not get any pictures worth reproducing, so here is another of Peter's old ones. The colours show how photographs age!

deserted village, Achill Island

Doolough Pass, between the gentle beauty of Clew Bay and the striking Killary (Ireland's only fjord) is a wild and desolate place. Just above the black lake itself is a memorial to those who died here in 1849. This is the story behind that memorial:

In the spring of 1849, some six hundred of the starving peasantry of the West thronged into the town of Louisburgh in County Mayo, seeking food or a ticket for admission to the workhouse from the Relieving Officer. He informed them that he had no power to give them food or a ticket, and that they should apply personally to the two paid guardians, a Colonel Hograve and a Mr. Lecky, who would hold a board meeting the next day in Delphi Lodge, 10 miles away.
 
These six hundred people were homeless, in rags and had not eaten for days, so severe was the famine. They spent that night in the open, and next morning, of those who were still alive, four hundred set out on a journey from which none would return. In those days, the route they had to follow meant using goat tracks as there were no roads in the mountainous region. Neither were there any bridges, which meant they twice had to wade, waist deep, through rivers swollen with recent rains. On arriving at Delphi Lodge they were informed that the vice-guardians were at lunch and could not be disturbed and during the wait, many of them died. When the two gentlemen finally condescended to see the peasantry, it was to refuse them any form of relief and to tell them that their journey had been in vain. There was no alternative now but to retrace their steps back to Louisburg. When they reached the river, ... they once again had to wade through it, saturating their rags anew.

The wind veered round to the north-west bringing a storm with showers of piercing hailstones. Their wet rags began to stiffen like cold sheet iron around their emaciated limbs, and soon they began to fall and die along the rough path, or to fall in their weakness into the lake below. When they reached that terrible spot called the Stroppabue, on the very brow of the cliff, the tremendous squalls swept them by the score into the lake, and those who were trying to climb the steep-slanting pass or stroppa, lost their hold and fell as they climbed. The corpses which fell into the lake were never recovered. The few who survived the struggle through the Stroppabue continued to fall and die until the last of them perished on the southern bank of the Glenkeen river....
On the following day, the Relieving Officer took gangs of starving men with him from Louisburgh along the corpse-strewn trail, and they buried the slaughtered peasants without coffins just where they fell. When they reached Doolough there was no earth along the goat track deep enough for graves save in the little glen or ravine which ran down the brow of the cliff, and which frowns above the dark lough just beside the terrible Stroppabue. So they had to gather all the corpses and carry them to the little glen where they buried them in pits just as on a battlefield, and there they lie sleeping where the sighing of the winds through the tall, wild ferns which wave above their nameless graves forever sings their requiem.

This story is taken from "Tales of the West of Ireland" by James Berry, (ISBN 0-85105-502-8), edited by G.M. Horgan and published by Colin Smythe Ltd., Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, England.

The second picture is of the Killary which forms the boundary between Co Mayo and Co Galway.

Doolough, Co Mayo Killary, Co Mayo

The final picture from this part of Ireland is the view from our bedroom window of the centre of the bustling town of Westport. (Appearances can be deceptive - it is a bustling town!)

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About 150 miles away, and in another country, where the Mountains of Mourne really do sweep down to the sea. The first picture is from near Rostrevor, Co Down, on the southern side of the Mournes. The second is looking back at them from the outskirts of Newcatle, to the north.

Westport, co Mayo
Mourne Mountains from Rostrevor Mourne Mountains from Newcastle

Through the narrows between Strangford and Portaferry passes all the water which fills Strangford Lough (a UN World Heritage Site) and empties itself again with each tide. In the 1950s Peter crossed this water in the "ferry" of the time - an open motor boat which travelled up to 3 miles to get from one side to the other, depending on the state of the tide and the current. This picture shows that ferry. The gentleman on the left of the picture is Peter's father.

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It's a little different today. The first photograph is looking across to Portaferry from Strangford, with the larger of the two ferries moored just off shore. The other shows the ferry arriving at the slip in Strangford.

old Strangford ferry
Portaferry from Strangford The Strangford Ferry

A fitting farewell to an enchanted country. A leprechaun we found standing on a gatepost at Dooagh, on Achill Island.
Leprechaun, Achill Island


 

© 2005 - 2015 Thelma and Peter Jones
Revised 27 December 2015

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