Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Back Roads of North Mayo: Downpatrick Head


Yesterday, we set out on a back roads tour of North Mayo. We stopped first at the Ballycroy National Park Visitor’s Center. Ballycroy is the newest of Ireland’s six national parks; primarily it preserves one of the largest blanket bogs in Europe as well as provides a home for the endangered red grouse. For some reason, years of traveling to Ireland have not taught me to bring a windbreaker with me no matter what the weather seems like, so the chill kept us from exploring and photographing the bog. We’ll be back.

From Ballycroy, we drove to Downpatrick Head, stopping along the way to take advantage of photo ops. The distinguishing feature of Downpatrick Head is the sea stack, a.k.a. Dun Briste (broken fort). Apparently, St Patrick won a dubious battle there with a pagan god named Crom Dubh (Doov). After failing to hurl St P into everlasting fire, Crom – who simply wanted his followers to be able to worship nature as they had since time immemorial – retreated to his fortress at the end of Downpatrick Head. In response, Patrick cleaved the land with his crozier, separating the fort from the mainland and leaving poor old Crom (and this much I can believe) to be eaten alive by a plague of midges.

After leaving the head, we worked our way through a labyrinth of roads and boreens (lanes), eventually coming across the ruins of an old demesne. More on this later. Meanwhile:








9 comments:

willow said...

Great pic of you and T! The layers of stone in that sea stack are amazing.

Roy said...

Nice shot of you & T! And I love the "Broken Fort", although as a dedicated pagan my sympathies are all with Crom Dubh; Patrick should've kept his nose (and his crozier) out of other people's beliefs and business.

John Hayes said...

Great photos, & you two sure look happy--if somewhat windswept. Did I miss something, or what's the story with the Shell logo & the "struggle" statement?

sussah said...

Hi K., The 2 of you look young and happy. sp, n.o.

Annette said...

What beautiful photos and what beautiful people.

Sylvia K said...

What fabulous photos! And the two of you look marvelous! I can tell that you're having a wonderful time and I'm so happy for you! I have to admit I do envy you your trip! Looks so beautiful!

K. said...

Thanks everyone! We like that picture, too.

The Shell skull is a reference to Shell's efforts -- successful so far -- to put a pipeline and refinery in North Mayo. The locals have resisted it vigorously to the point of jail terms.

T. Clear said...

I like that picture too! ;)

Ima Wizer said...

That is SOME head!