Bridges over Troubled water
In the first week of his journey on foot along the Border, EDWARD BURKEmarched from Donegal to Co Tyrone
Day 1, July 6th Culdaff to Linsfort
Culdaff, a village at the top of the Inishowen peninsula, is a hard place to leave. The friendliness of its people, its pristine estuary and long, sandy beach made me want to settle in for a few days.
But a promise must be kept, and I began my journey from the small Anglican church where more than a century and half earlier a viceroy of India, John Lawrence, had married a local bride, Harriette Hamilton. The rain had stopped and there was an occasional glimpse of blue sky.
Leaving the Buncrana road, I climbed up a boreen to Bulbin mountain. I moved around the summit to an expanse of bog that reached down to Lough Swilly. On the bog I met a scattering of McLaughlins, including the Manais McLaughlin, who took a break from cutting turf to point out the mountains to the south and west, including the “devil’s back”, Errigal, and the nearby Urris hills, where a British bomber crashed during the second World War, killing all its crew members, having mistaken Swilly for Lough Foyle. The turf would be no good this year, they said. It is too wet.
Striding down to the fjord-like Swilly – starting-point for the Flight of the Earls, where Wolfe Tone and his French allies were captured, and occasional base of Admiral Jellicoe’s Grand Fleet during the first World War – I skirted Fort Dunree.
Dunree was briefly Ireland’s Gibraltar. It was ceded to the British under the Anglo-Irish treaty in 1922 until de Valera negotiated its return in 1938, much to the resentment of Winston Churchill. Nearby an old man had his door wide open nearby – I refilled my water bottle and he pressed an orange on me.
Day 2, July 7th Linsfort, Buncrana to Derry
Linsfort Castle, the first bed and breakfast stay of my trip, was the prize given to a William Benson for building the walls of Derry in the early 17th century. Leaving the beautifully preserved house I walked down to the nearby beach on the Swilly where I was joined by Pat “the Miller” McLoughlin and Pat Doherty. They pointed the way to Buncrana castle, the former home of the lord of Inishowen, Sir Cahir O’Doherty, who burned Derry in 1608 in a short-lived revolt – his body was later dismembered and sent to various parts of the country.