Dwight Peck's personal website
north of Ireland, April 2007
2006-2007 spent waiting around for winter
(and Northern Ireland) in the springtime
may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a
good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught
up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Head and Donegal
going to walk out around Horn Head in county Donegal, tracing out one of the better
routes chronicled by Joss Lynam, Best Irish Walks, 2nd edition (Passport
Books, 1998). We've come up from the easily missed village of Dunfanaghy and started
out from the old Coast Guard house at about 250m altitude.
looks like Horn Head up there in the center. No, it's not, that's just a ruined
old building part the way along. Horn Head is looming beyond that to the left.
poised gracefully atop sea stacks of squashed layers of sedimentary something
view downwards, towards what in Cornwall would be "Merlin's Cave", but
here is probably "St Columba's Cave", or perhaps "Robert the Bruce's
viewing Merlin's or Columba's cave from a sedimentary pinnacle of sorts, 14 April
imposing coastline of Donegal. It's no wonder that so many Spanish seamen fleeing
the Armada debâcle of 1588 experienced a strong sense of foreboding when their
leaking galleons whacked onto those rocks.
and the ruined old building, with Horn Head off to the right
are said to be the remains of two permanent lookout towers on Horn Head, one from
Napoleonic times (ca.1804) and the other from World War II. If this is one of
them, it's more likely to be the Napoleonic one -- since we left the car at the
World War II one. (I'm speaking about the stone thing at the top of the hill.
That's Kristin on the left.)
eh? It looks more like a tiny version of the Bomber Harris dream for Germany's
inner cities when the Allies got finished with the civilian populations
there. But without the clever charring effects.
watching out for Napoleon's ships, with "Joe" the water bottle poking
out of the window before her
not Napoleon! That's . . . that's . . . that's someone bigger!
THAT's Horn Head.
that's Kristin going up for a look-see, with "Joe" coming along for
Peck in still another "contemplative mood" (more and more frequent these
days and they can persist for hours)
departing from Horn Head, 14 April 2007, not prepared to wait until all the contemplation has been completed
west side of Horn Head, the "Tory Sound" in fact, because Tory Island
is off there somewhere to the west
coastline with Horn Head above, and very little room for mass tourism development.
The surfing is awful here.
presently marching in a giant half-circle past Horn Head around the Coast Guard
station, and now we're going along the coast for a while. This is an excellent
walk but we're improvising, having missed the hiking book's
route somewhere along the way.
off the planned hiking route is not a problem as long as you're prepared to hurdle
barbed wire sheep fences. Kristin, and "Joe" hanging out before, usually
care not at all about little sheep fences.
Merlin's Cave down there, or St Columba's. Or Finn McCool's Cave.
Head in the distance (from the far side of still another successfully-hopped sheep
is a fascinating thing to poke about in such an old place and speculate
about which rooms were what, where the upper floor level was and whose rooms were
upstairs, how the family organized itself in the house and how they moved about
in it usually, and try to imagine what their life was like so long ago. Like watching Downton Abbey.
OH! Kristin's got her Joe stuck in the barbed wire!
heading back towards the Coast Guard station whilst we went up over a few more
swampy ridges on the way -- and once separated, some anxious moments till reunited
once again. Wandering about in the gorse and thistles in hiking sandals, it's
hard to plan a route in advance.
quick stop in one of the villages on the road back to The Water's Edge in Rathmullan
through Donegal city, almost missed it, 15 April 2007. Today we're on our way
to the famous Slieve Leagh hike, and we've stopped at Donegal on the River Eske
to buy The Guardian, The Independent, and some hiking snacks. It's kind of a grim-weather
day, but the sun will probably burst out upon us soon.
Castle. With some strange tiny rooms up on top for people with enormous confidence
in 17th century construction standards.
it is, the main homestead. The Vikings had a fort here in the 9th century, and
the O'Donnells settled in in the 15th century, but that "manor house"
in the centre is subsequent.
Kristin admiring the older part of the house, seen through what's actually the
servants' and tradesmen's door -- the front door for the family is one flight
up to the right.
fact, that's the front door, one floor up (like an Appalachian mobile-home). Sir
Basil Brooke, a professional soldier for the English, was awarded the castle in
1601 and quickly Jacobeanized it for his family.
great hall in the early 17th century house of the Brookes
virtual Donegal Castle
place to live for a while. As long as the neighbors are friendly and there's a
good grocery within walking distance.
let's get our Guardian and a bite to carry with us, and head off for the Slieve
view of Donegal Castle. We're off to hike up Slieve Leagh, with a very ominous
feeling about it.
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 11 May 2007, revised 30 March
2008, 13 August 2014.