Day 4 of our adventure, we awoke to the rain (again) and got ready for a busy day ahead of us. Leaving from Sleepy Hollows Campsite, we headed towards Bunbeg and on to Maheraclogher Beach.
Bunbeg Wreck (Bad Eddies’ Boat)
Not going to lie, but we did have to stop and visit a local chemist in Bunbeg to ask for directions to our next stop. Bunbeg Wreck (Bad Eddies’ Boat).
A fantastic spot and not too far out of the way if you are in and around the Bunbeg area.
Cara Na Mara (‘Friend of the Sea’) is the official title of the abandoned fishing vessel. The ship ran aground here in the 1970s when it got into difficulty on stormy waters. It has been here ever since, an honoured part of local heritage and is considered to be Gweedore’s “very own Titanic”. To get up close to the ship, the tide needs to be well out, as you can see, we got very lucky, as the tide was on its’ way in when we arrived.
The Poisoned Glen
Next we travelled out towards Dunlewey and the Poisoned Glen.
The Poisoned Glen lies at the foot of Errigal (Donegal’s highest mountain). The name ‘the Poisoned Glen’ is probably a mistranslation of the Irish name. In days gone by, locals would have only spoken Irish and they called this place ‘Gleann Nemhe’ – The Heavenly Glen.
The name, in Irish, for heaven is Neamh and the word for poison, is neimhe, just one letter difference. It is easy to see how the words might have been mixed up when translated to English.
Others tell of legends, that the huge ice-carved hollow of the Poison Glen, got its’ name when the ancient one-eyed giant King of Tory, Balor, was killed here by his exiled grandson, Lughaidh, where the poison from his eye split the rock and poisoned the glen.
However, the views whether from above looking down into the valley and over Lough Dunlewey, or below looking upwards to the magnificent mountain behind are very striking and it is probably one of the most photographed areas of Donegal, particularly the old church that lies in the valley.
Dunlewey Church of Ireland
Jane Smith Russel had the church built as a memorial to her husband, James Russel, landlord of the Dunlewey Estate, who died on 2nd September 1848. James Russel was laid to rest in a vault under the church floor. The church is built of white Marble and blue quartzite which was all quarried locally, the supply of which has depleted.
In the graveyard there lies the body of a man who was in a mixed marriage (i.e. He was Church of Ireland and she was Catholic). He died first and is buried in the grounds of this church but she, being a Catholic, did not want to be buried there. She is buried in the Catholic Church across the valley, Church of the Sacred Heart. However, even in death she wanted to remember her husband and her grave in the Catholic graveyard faces across the valley to her husband’s resting place. (The other gravestones in the Catholic Church point another way to hers).
After leaving the church and the Poison Glen we headed towards Mount Errigal via the R251 and accessed the main car park just below the mountain.
Mount Errigal is a 751 metre mountain near Gweedore, it is the highest peak of the Derryveagh Mountains and the 76th tallest peak in Ireland. Errigal is the most southern, vertical and tallest of the mountain chain, called the “Seven Sisters” by the locals.
The Seven Sisters includes Muckish, Crocknalaragagh, Aghla Beg, Ardloughnabrackbaddy, Aghla More, Mackoght and Errigal. The nearest peak is Mackoght, which is also known as Little Errigal or “Wee Errigal”.
Errigal is also well known for the pinkish glow of the quartzite in the setting sun. Although we didn’t manage to climb the mountain this time round, we hope to do so in the future, but the spectacular views of the surrounding peaks and landscapes made up for it.
The name Cloch Chann Faola (meaning “The Stone of Faoil’s Head”) comes from a story, which tells that of Balor of the Evil Eye beheaded Faoil on a rock because Faoil stole the Cow of Plenty from Balor and brought it back to the mainland from Tory Island.
Next stop, Glenveagh National Park!
Next blog – Glenveagh National Park – Day 4 – Part 2