Donegal 25km

Although this is meant to be down time from the bike, there were a couple of out-of-town visits I had to make, and one was to a cemetery in the tiny village of Letterbarrow up in the Blue Stack hills. 

You see, it was exactly 50 years ago, almost to the day, that I arrived in Letterbarrow with John and Pat (two class mates), only to discover that John’s great grandmother had died, at the age of 101. Anecdotally, I seem to remember something about her having a fall from a bicycle…..but that could have been just another good old Irish story fuelled by the Guinness. Anyway, I had my very first taste of an Irish wake where the body was laid out in the living room and people filed through the house continuously to pay their respects, and then stopped to have a drink and a chat. And this seemed to go on for a couple of days……and the supply of drink was endless.

As I stood by Annie Kerrigan’s grave in 2017, life really had come full circle, dragging back into my memory space so many forgotten things. Randomly, and nothing to do with Annie’s death, I remember how embarrassingly easy it had been to hitch hike in Northern Ireland in 1967, the year before the outbreak of the troubles. And as I cycled up to Donegal yesterday, I passed through a narrow bottleneck of land only 8km wide where the NI border almost meets the Atlantic. The proximity of NI is also corroborated by the accent in these parts….to me it is almost indistinguishable from the harsher tones and inflections of the six counties. 

Donegal itself is a very small town, but it seemed to be under siege with Spanish and German tourists…..many of whom I encountered on my visit to the medieval castle.

But for one of the best views of the town and its bay, go just a few kms up towards the Blue Stack mountains…..and don’t forget to stop and look back…….ūüėä

About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace‚Ķ‚Ķ‚Ķtaking the road less travelled‚Ķ‚Ķ..striving for the ‚Äėfaculty of making happy chance discoveries‚Äô in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on July 20, 2017, in Ireland End-to-End 1300km and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. i can imagine how strange that wake must have been for you at 17.

    • Yes, very strange…..but also a revelation about how the Irish handle death, and their attitude to it.

      • yes I remember being in Killarney some years ago and there was a funeral for 2 17 yr old youths killed in a car crash. The whole town came to a standstill and walked the coffins along the road. I thought it was very moving.

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