One Day Walks August 13 thru 15

If you would like to join my guided walks next weekend, but not avail of the B&B and dinner choice, you can simply join our small group as a day walker. Here’s the programme.

Friday August 13 –

Meet at 10 am at the carpark in An Ceathrú Thaidhg for the 3 to 4 hr cliff-top loop. (€20)

And / or

Meet at 3 pm at the car park at Glenlara, on the north end of The Mullet, for the 2 to 2 1/2 hr Erris Head cliff-top loop. (€10)

Take part in both Friday walks for € 20 total.

Saturday August 14 –

Meet at Blacksod pier at 10 am for a boat trip out to and guided walk of Iniskea Island. Pier to pier, this will take 5 to 6 hours. (€ 40)

Sunday August 15 –

Meet at 10 am at Tobar Deirbhile (well) at Falmore at the southern tip of The Mullet peninsula, for a 4 hr loop walk, taking in Glosh, Caisleán beach and Aughleam. (€ 20)

For further details and to book your place, please call 086-8318748.

Comórtas Peil na Gaeltachta 2010

The annual Gaelic Football competition for teams from Gaeltacht areas rumbles into Belmullet this coming weekend. With it come a lot of footballers and football followers. The craic should be good.

An Clár Oifigiúil is here, if you’d like to take a look : Clár Oifigiúil

As part of what you might call the “off festival”, I will be leading walks on both Saturday and Sunday. So come along, if you fancy a stroll. Good comfortable runners will suffice for both walks, but, as always, I would advise hiking boots anyway.

Saturday :

Erris Head / Ceann Iorrais. Meet at the small carpark at Glenlara / An Gleann Lara, at 11 am. This beautiful cliff-top walk is around 2 – 3 hours and entirely off-road.

Sunday :

Aughleam & Falmore / Each Léim agus An Fáil Mhór. Meet at the graveyard in Falmore, at 12 midday. This walk is mostly on-road, but quiet roads they are certainly. Various possible loops allow you to leave when you like. The maximum length, should you join for the walk’s entirety, will be around 3 hours.

Hopefully, we’ll have the weather.

When I Met Pat Rua #2

When I met Pat Rua Reilly (then last living survivor of the 1927 Iniskea fishing tragedy that took the lives of 10 men) this month 10 years ago, I started by asking him why it was that the islanders left Iniskea.

BM : Why did ye decide to come out ? What was the story ?

PRR : The story was that they wanted them to go out. The priest went at it, do you know ? And he wanted them to come out. They didn’t like to leave them on the island. And another thing then, the land was going against them, do you know ? It wasn’t growing anything for them. It was burned up.

What happened the land was, they never put fertiliser on the land. It was the seaweed, come to land, they used put on it, do you know ? And it burned the land.

It started bad about after the drowning, after  big drowning. It started burning up. It wasn’t growing right.

BM : And what had it been growing ? Spuds ?

PRR : There were spuds and grain. Oats and barley. It was growing everything.

BM : So ye did not come out against your will ?

PRR : No, we did not. There was land vacancy out on The Mullet and it was divided between them and each family got about 4 or 5 acres, or 6.

BM : And was there any disagreement ?

PRR : No, no disagreement in the world. Everyone wanted to go. They weren’t bothered. They were all agreed to go.

BM : And they left bit by bit, one by one ?

PRR : Some of them left in 1932. As the houses were completed abroad. That’s why we had to wait on the island until 1934.

BM : And what difference did it make to ye to be on the mainland after ?

PRR : Not a bit. Not a bit.

When I Met Pat Rua #1

It’s ten years now since I interviewed Pat Rua Reilly, of Glenlara on the Mullet. Although he passed away in 2008, just days short of his 101st birthday, I still think of him.

Pat was born in 1907, to William and Bridget (O’Donnell) Reilly. He was, at the time of my interview, the last living survivor of the terrible fishing tragedy of the night of October 28, 1927, which took the lives of 10 Iniskea fishermen, including two of his own brothers.

Of course, Pat was interviewed many times in his later life, becoming a living recorder of what life was like on the long since abandoned islands off the western side of the southern Mullet peninsula. Much of the interview I carried out with him is perhaps of little value, but over the coming days, I will transcribe here some of the more interesting passages from that day back in the year 2000.

There was something magical about Pat Rua Reilly. He had a way with words and his voice sang with lovely lilting and music, even though Irish, of course, was his native tongue. Despite the years passing since I interviewed him, I still regularly listen back to the tape as I drive, impersonating the wonderful way he would say little things, like “not a bit” (in response to what difference it made to move to the mainland from the islands) and “you wouldn’t know how they were” (when asked to explain an island custom).

The Iniskea Islands :

Lying 4 km west of the southern Mullet peninsula, the Iniskeas North and South were re-inhabited from the late 18th to the early 20th Centuries. An earlier Bronze Age to early Christian settlement had long since left.

The islands’ population grew steadily through the 19th and early 20th Centuries, even during the period of the Great Famine in the 1840s.

The second half of the 19th Century saw major land management and other changes on the islands, with the result that emigration took place and, perhaps, the hitherto tight social structure began to unravel. Outside influences multiplied and the islands were to change.

The night of October 28, 1927 wreaked havoc on the western seaboard, with over 40 men drowned in a fierce storm, of whom 10 were Iniskea fishermen. Within a few short years, the Iniskeas would be abandoned.