Happy Friday everyone. We’re taking it easy today – we are going to the beautiful Sligo village of Mullaghmore, to the Peace Garden. This little space, which looks on to the picture-postcard harbour, and across to the Dartry mountains, was created for reflection and meditation amongst the flowers and scenic surrounds. Mullaghmore witnessed one of the most moving demonstrations of reconciliation in May 2015, when relatives of Lord Mountbatten, including Prince Charles, visited the garden. Lord Mountbatten, Lady Dorothy Bradbourne and 15 year old Paul Maxwell were killed when an IRA bomb blew up their fishing boat during ‘The Troubles’. It is a beautiful and restorative space, reminding us that peace and forgiveness are always possible. Have a lovely weekend, and be good to each other x
Hello everyone. Ten minutes walk from the centre of Sligo City, along the banks of the Garavogue River, brings you to an area known as Doorly Park. This is where we’re going today, and your reward is gob-smacking scenery under a moody sky, an indignant swan, some sociable ducks, and I think, that same grey heron we saw on Monday, still keeping watch. Let’s go!
Just outside Sligo town is a stretch of coastline which has the fabulous name ‘Gibraltar’. It is not as photogenic as some of our previous walks, and it was a very overcast and moody morning when I went exploring – but it is really interesting place. It is inside the Sligo estuary, which means it is protected from the wild Atlantic, and the water warms up nicely compared to the more exposed beaches. About 60 years ago, the development of an outdoor pool, and terraced seating made it one of Sligo’s most popular places to bathe; but as people moved from the bicycle to the car, and then to the sun holiday, the area fell into disuse and disrepair. However, thankfully, environmentalists realised the importance of the area as a habitat for birds, wildlife, oceanlife and flora, and it has now been cleaned up and declared a conservation area. It is overshadowed on one side by the majestic Knocknarea mountain, and you can see Queen Maeve’s cairn at the top – and across the bay, a very misty cloud-covered Ben Bulben. I’m always interested in the lives places had in the past, and thinking about young Irish teenagers messing around here in the summertime way back then, when there wasn’t anywhere else to go, was interesting. What secret stories do these stones know?
Hello everyone, welcome to day 55. We are going to take a stroll around the city of Sligo – tiny by USA standards, but so pretty and historic. Very much associated with the poet W.B. Yeats, who, being a smart man, is wearing his mask! The city is built on the Garavogue river, and between 1847 and 1851, the years of the Great Hunger, over 30,000 people emigrated from the port- you’ll see Niall Bruton’s moving sculpture here – you’ll also walk past Sligo Abbey, a Dominican Friary founded in the 13th Century, and Sligo Jail, whose inmates included the bould Michael Collins. Unfortunately, these buildings are closed right now, as is Lyons Café, but please imagine the delicious tea and scones you’d enjoy there- I did! A few quiet street scenes for you, and my favourite bit- a curious grey heron standing sentry in the river. Enjoy!
We’re off to the forest today – a secret location I have named ‘Bluebell Forest’. At this time of year, the forest floor bursts into a carpet of bluebells, and takes on the most amazing bluish-purple colour. There are also the other pinky-purpley plants and shrubs – purple orchids, giant onions, rhododendrons, wisteria, camas, & all the usual suspects. I’m not sure any photo can do this walk justice – but let’s give it a go. You’ll have to add the following sounds- an absolutely crazy level of bee-humming, bird-twittering turned up to eleven, the occasional snap and scurry of the squirrels (too fast for me), and the soft whisper of the occasional breeze through the canopy. Perfect for your Sunday walk. Enjoy!
Hello everyone. We’re having a bit of a history trip today – as it’s 75 years since the end of WW2 in Europe. Castle Archdale is in County Fermanagh, just across the border from Donegal. It has two impressive historical buildings on site- the first is an old castle built by John Archdale in 1612. Archdale was an Englishman, granted lands confiscated from the Maguire clan during the plantation of Ulster. These lands sit along the shores of the beautiful Lough Erne. In the late 18th Century, the Archdale family build a second mansion, part of which is now a museum set in beautiful grounds. During the Second World War, Lough Erne was a very important strategic base for the Allies. It was used during the by flying boats of the RAF Squadron RAF, and Consolidated Catalinas and Short Sunderlands based here would patrol the North Atlantic for German U-boats.
The Republic of Ireland was not officially part of the Allied Forces during WW2, ( the event is known as ‘The Emergency’ here) – but a secret arrangement was made between the British and Irish governments to allow the RAF to fly the shortest route from Lough Erne out to the Atlantic, which was directly over Donegal. This is known as ‘The Donegal Corridor’. So our walk today stops off first at the old castle, then along the lake shore and forest to what remains of the newer building, used as a main operational base for the RAF. There’s a nice seat overlooking the lake for you to take a break half-way 🙂 Enjoy!
Today’s walk is a great illustration of the way in which Irish history and culture are an integral part of the landscapes. We’re walking up towards the Gleniff Horseshoe – past a lovely profile of Ben Wisken Mountain – and you’ll see, high up to the right of the cliff face, the opening of a large cave. This is known as the cave of Diarmuid and Gráinne. The legend of Diarmuid and Gráinne is one of the great legends of Ireland – the lovers eloped, chased around Ireland by the jilted Finn Mc Cool (Fionn Mac Cumhaill). Many places are associated with the pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne, including this cave, and both the story and landscape inspired many artists, including painter Jack B. Yeats, and playwrights George Moore and W.B. Yeats. On the way back down, I was happily distracted by the usual things- butterflies, curious lambs, and pretty flowers. Hopefully you’ll be inspired too! Enjoy
Hi everyone. Today’s view of Bundoran is a bit different – A bit of a climb involved, but not too taxing- a ladder took me up to the roof of the Atlantic, where I grabbed some very isolated me time, and extraordinary views over the rooftops – south, we’re looking at the Sligo coastline, west across Donegal Bay to Sliabh Liag, East over the Glens of Leitrim. The golf course was spectacularly empty for such a nice day 🙁 and the streets so quiet – we can’t wait until we have our visitor buzz back in town. Enjoy… & stay away from the edge!
Hi everyone. We are now on DAY 50 of our splendid isolation series, and I hope you are enjoying the photos as much as I am enjoying taking them. We are not going far today, and bare feet are fine- I got up this morning, and took one look at the beach, and there was no contest. There’s a song often sung here- ‘Beautiful Bundoran, by the silvery sea’ and that is exactly how the beach looked – shimmering sands dappled with sunlight, and Mediterranean blue skies. It was a very low tide, so I met some little sea-friends; a periwinkle busy moving house, and a crab I named ‘Jersey Jim’ (to give Donna a laugh :-)) I tested the water and it’s definitely getting close to swim-without-a-wetsuit- time… close, but no cigar just yet. Enjoy the splash! x