Dunfanaghy to Fallcarragh

Samuel Gamble Bayne
Dunfanaghy to Fallcarragh

WE put up at the Stewart Arms, and next morning when we looked over the town we came to the conclusion that Paris had nothing to fear from Dunfanaghy. It hasn't even a Moulin Rouge to boast of, but it's a first-class place to sleep in when you're worn out on the road, as we were. We engaged a large boat with four men to row us out into the Atlantic to see the famous Horn Head from the sea. The sight has really no equal anywhere. The writer, having seen it many times since boyhood, is more impressed with it on each occasion, and this last time it seemed more entrancing than ever.

Horn Head is a range of beetling mountains projecting into the Atlantic, and covers in extent some ten miles. The crags and horns are six hundred and twenty-six feet high, and are of all the colors of the rainbow, from deepest black to red, yellow, gray, purple, and green. The formation is vast galleries or amphitheatres, broken by the nature of the rock into rectangular shelves, on which perch myriads of birds, which are as the sands of the sea for multitude. Some of these birds migrate from Norway, lay one egg, and when the young are able they return home, only to come back again each succeeding summer. There are many varieties of them, in part consisting of guillemots, sheldrakes, cormorants, the shag, the gannet, the stormy petrel, the speckled diver, and the sea-parrot. One variety will fly with greater ease under a boat when pursuing fish than it can in the air, and in the clear water they may be seen at great depths, using their wings in this way. They have seen but few men, and do not rise when approached. Their cawing and cries are fearful and awe-inspiring, owing to the vast numbers of birds that are always in the air or on the rocks. The whole panorama as seen from the boat is something the beholder will remember as long as he lives.

Temple Arch, Horn Head, County Donegal

Temple Arch, Horn Head, County Donegal

We also saw many seals close to the boat; these live on salmon. Mr. Stewart used to pay a crown each for their scalps, but since retiring he has withdrawn the bonus and they are now increasing in numbers. The sea is very lumpy at the head, owing to the squalls that blow down over the cliffs; we encountered half a dozen, and any one of them would have put a sailboat out of commission in a few minutes. They keep a great ground-swell in constant motion, and the boat rose and fell on these waves like a cork in a whirlpool. When rowing home we passed a salmon net at a jutting point, with one end of its rope fastened to the rocks. We asked why had such a place been selected when there were so many others easier to get at, and the man replied: "Salmon are queer fish; they have a path round the headlands when going to the spawning - grounds, and never leave it. If that net were moved out fifty yards it would never catch a salmon." Two men were perched on a small ledge close to the water, watching the net against seals, as the latter will tear the fish out of the nets with the ferocity of a tiger. These men had six hundred feet of sheer rock above them, and we asked how they ever got down or up again. "Oh, they're used to it; they've been at it since they were boys, and they can scale the rocks like monkeys." We again slept at the Stewart Arms, and we felt so much impressed by what we had seen from the sea that we determined to go on the head itself and view the surroundings; so next morning we started on the car and were soon driving over the long stone bridge with its many arches.

On the way over the bridge we passed Horn Head House, the residence of C. F. Stewart, a property that has been in the possession of the present family since a Stewart raised men to fight for King James against the O'Neills, in the Irish wars. The road winds up between vast sand-hills, the sand being of a remarkable orange color, fading into pink in the distance, while large tufts of rich, deep green bent-grass are dotted over its surface, making such an unusually striking contrast that we stopped the car for full five minutes to admire it. These hills are alive with rabbits; they scampered off in all directions at our approach and quickly disappeared into their holes.

Read "On an Irish Jaunting Car through Donegal and Connemara" at your leisure

On an Irish jaunting Car through Donegal and Connemara

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Samuel Gamble Bayne was born in Ramelton, County Donegal, and educated at Queen's University in Belfast. At the age of twenty-five he left for America with a view to making his fortune. He invested in an oil well in Pennsylvania and later founded a bank which subsequently came to be the JP Morgan Chase bank in New York. By the time this book was written he was wealthy enough to be referred to as a billionaire. His account of the tour through the north, west and south of Ireland is a pleasant snapshot of how that part of the country was in the early part of the 20th century. He describes what is to be seen, gives some background history and, through the illustrations especially, provides wonderful glimpses of the area's social history.

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