Between the divine

I went to the end of Inishowen today.
Beyond Grianan and Bogay Hill, where the southern slope of the latter dips into an ancient river valley and the little, that remains, of the lake at Port Lough. Older maps still have a castle located on what was once an island. More academic sources call it a crannog. However, with Mr. Scott Simon’s kind permission, direction and words of caution I entered what was a lake before and very much a bog now. After much unsuccessful struggling through this wilderness, I found myself unable to cross one of the drainage channels, to reach my destination. But thankfully, I was not alone. Shouting across, I made the much needed acquaintance with Mr. Kyle Basil, who pointed me to a crossing. After having reached the other side and without the loss of my wellies, he walked towards me to make sure, that I safely made it. He also led the way to the crannog and pointed out the location of a possible Iron Age rath, only a field above and past the southern border of Inishowen. He also spoke of a ford, a crossing on a narrow point, running from the old shop to the other side with stepping stones laid out. At the crannog I learned that many stones had been removed for wall building and the remains are to such extent overgrown, that some believed, it has sunken into the bog. But a circular shape and a few small breaks in the vegetation, where its man made masonry fights in a last attempt for sheer survival, just about mark the spot. The diameter of the circle is perhaps 4 but no more than 5 metres, and therefore too small for a crannog, never mind a castle, no matter how many stone were removed. the diameter would remain the same. It is more likely that it was, what could be called, a check point, being within sight of the crossing to the west and having the Iron Age rath to its south, which under the circumstances and from my position, can only be descript, as being in enemy territory, and where I went next. It is more than twice the size of the so called crannog and reminds me much of Dundrean Rath. The fields around it have been smoothened over the last centuries but the entrance at the east was still visible amongst the trees and bushes, approximately 1.80 metres wide. It is difficult to say, if the wall was thicker at this point or if it was only a matter of stone piling. The rest of the circular wall seems to be around 1 metre plus thick.
From there I went west to the Old Shop, were I disturbed the entire and extended Fullerton family. Nevertheless, before I could say much, I found myself on their kitchen table with a life saving bowl of soup and news of a tunnel, running underneath the road. As a young lad Mr. John Fullerton went into the tunnel, being able to hear the cars travelling above him and he descript it as being 3½ to 4 ft. wide and high. A house has now been built where the entrance used to be. Having been welcomed, feed and watered on the other side, I returned to Inishowen, crossing, hopefully for the last time, the bog, which gave me a strange sense of excitement, to the fields of Mr. Scott Simon. On their western edge lay, on what appears to be a natural rock outcrop, many stones in a confusing disarray. Many of the stones are very roughly worked, as if done in a hast, but they are mainly flat, indicating strongly the construction of some sort of building . Going with the positioning of it, these remains might be part of Dowrca’s fortification of Inishowen between 1601 and 1608. But I also fund three very small cupmarks in the shape of a triangle on one of the rocks, indicating, that this site has been in use for a very long time. Mr. Simon also told me about the old houses, destroyed some twenty years ago, with windows like gun slots, placing, at least some of the remains, into the time of the Plantation. As the light was fading, I had to leave without inspecting the possible burial ground nor the extent of the site. Just above Mr. Simon’s farm there also used to be an 18th century road to Derry. – I have to come back. Which will be with the greatest appreciation and gratitude of hospitality and care received. As I made my way back through the last field, passing the stones, in need of revisiting, Mr. Simon’s jeep came up from the farm, stopping, and as I reached him, with my car plate number written on his left hand, to give notice to the Gardai, that I must have been lost for good like cattle before me, it very strongly, and again, made it unmistakably clear, that I rely on something special and now rare, which can not be expected necessarily and given excessively with so much kindness and consideration.

9 thoughts

  1. Oh what a lovely journey tale you have shared, Bettina.
    Thank you! –and I look forward to your report of your return to this mystical place.
    Maireid, in Australia.

  2. There was a dwelling house which burnt down many many years ago. There is also a story about a ghost, a lady who was murdered by her husband. Also about 30 years ago a digger driver tried to lift a large rock becide where the graveyard is supposed to be and was unable even though the rock was not that big.

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