Peck's personal Web site
north of Ireland, April 2007
2006-2007 spent waiting around for winter
(and Northern Ireland) in the springtime
may not find this tangibly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a
good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught
up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
of Northern Ireland, and northern Ireland
on our road from Rathlin Island, westward via Ballycastle and the Giants' Causeway,
past Portrush, and here's Dunluce Castle, perched out over the sea here since
time immemorial (i.e., the 13th century).
is a lovely maquette of what the place looked like before it fell down. Sorley
Boy McDonnell based himself here in the second half of the 16th century, until
Sir John Perrot, Queen Elizabeth's latest in a line of Lord Deputies of Ireland,
wrecked it in 1584.
wandering about the guest quarters that grew up on the mainland side, when the
overcrowding in the castle out on the headland just became intolerable. The Earl's
garden is near here, and the original bowling greens.
Castle itself. Kristin, at the bridge below, stands at the end of the "funnel"
-- in case of attack from the landward side, the defenders could crowd a significant
bunch of cows into this corral, and the invading cavalry could either pick their
way amongst the cows as they tried to charge the gates, or they could kill all
the cows and try to pick their way over the top of them.
at the bridge to Dunluce Castle, re-enacting the mood of Catherine Manners, daughter
of the 6th Earl of Rutland, who had married the royal favorite the Duke of Buckingham
in 1620 only to be widowed when he was assassinated in 1628. In 1635 she got herself
married to Sorley Boy's son Randal McDonnell, by then the Earl of Antrim, and
carted off here to the Back-of-Beyond, and that's when the commodious central
manor house got built.
Catherine hated the sound of the sea, it's said. Can you imagine her discomfort?
Evidently she lived here for several years, with the continuous sound of the sea.
That's the late 16th century gatehouse ahead, built in the Scottish manner by
Sorley Boy's son Randal after the English knocked down the first one.
of Lady Catherine's doubts about the place were confirmed when the kitchen wing
at the far end of the castle fell into the sea in 1639, along with seven cooks.
She immediately had another house built on the mainland and got herself off the
Parliamentary Army took the castle in 1642, during the Civil War, and ransacked
it, but aged Earl Randal was soon back again, and had lots of widowed fun here
till he died in 1682, but after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 the McDonnells
hit bottom and the castle was abandoned.
adorning one of the two towers.
winding stair (supposedly they always wind up in this direction so that retreating
right-handed swordsmen have room to swing their swords in).
kitchen wing of the castle
coast eastward, out the former window
from out the window
apparition from the twenty-first century. Well, from the mid-twentieth.
narrator memorizing the ancient floor plan of "the loggia", evidently
copied from a Stirling Castle copy of an Italian palazzo.
leaving through the Gateway, as so many have before her.
two main defensive towers, with the manor house above to the left
left: the bridge, the gatehouse, the manor house surmounting all, and the two
Castle, 13 April 2007
for lunch, a nice soup in the carpark. Now we're off to the new Moville ferry
in Ireland now, in Donegal, and motoring on the wrong side of the road through
Inishowen down towards Buncrana. We've gone the long way round to avoid driving
(on the wrong side of the road) through Derry (read Londonderry), only
to find that the Buncrana ferry is seasonal. Which shouldn't have been a surprise.
the wonderful Peugeot that the nice Avis lady gave us. Well, not gave us. Ransomed
us, perhaps, but a very excellent car it was. Now we'll just pass down by Letterkenny,
up the Lough Swilly past Ramelton, and we'll be in Rathmullan, and, specifically,
the Water's Edge hotely thing.
Water's Edge Restaurant and Accommodations -- basically, an hotel, I suppose that
means -- 10 minutes' walk south of Rathmullan. It's a new building and in some
ways looks like you could have found it next to the big mall in Topeka, Kansas,
BUT it's lovely inside, and the view is out across Lough Swilly at the Inch on
the far side.
in front of our room, with Inch Island reflected behind. Kristin is wearing her
new water-bottle holster-belt that Joe Pirri gave her as a present, and which
therefore we call "Joe".
bar, the heart of any commercial establishment worth its license. The Water's
Edge is one of five Donegal establishments owned by a couple called The Blaney
Group. More on that later. Now we need to go hiking again, and get some more castle-hopping
in along the way.
is Doe Castle near Creeslough, Donegal, the 16th century seat of the MacSweeneys,
the gallowglass mercenaries from the Scottish Isles and Highlands (the MacQueens
of Scotland). It's being restored by local workmen now, so we can't get into it.
imitating a "gallowglass", and sporting her "Joe" water-bottle
interior of Castle Doe. ("GVH"? -- sorry, dunno.) Once the homebase
for one of the major mercenary families from Scotland.
[I've been informed that "GVH" was carved there by George Vaghan Harte, who bought the castle in 1800.]
much unlike the mercenary condottieres of northern Italy (think Sforza, Visconti,
Borgia, Gonzaga, Malateste, Medici) who hired their private armies out to warring
cities and in many cases ended up owning the cities themselves, the gallowglasses
from Scotland came down to work for various warring clans . . . and stayed.
has family, a sister-in-law, two nephews and a niece, descended from the MacSweeneys,
and this is to commemorate our visit to the old family homestead. "Joe"
is hanging out in the front there.
Castle, between Creeslough and Dunfanaghy on the way to Horn Head.
term Gallowglass comes from the Irish Gallóglaigh ("foreign soldiers"),
from the Old Irish for "youths", but later meaning "soldier".
Not much of a choice of professions for youths in those days: soldier, priest,
or minstrel, or back behind the plow with you! Alas, there are many countries
in the world today in which the only employment for "youth" is "soldier",
Castle, the Sweeney home base on Sheephaven Bay from the mid-13th century. The
Italian condottieri, by the way, were the captains of the bands of mercenary soldiers
called the condotta, which etymologically means "the contracters".
Reminds us of the privatization of the USA's military to Cheney-style gun-for-hire
companies like Blackwater, BearingPoint, etc.
on to Horn Head
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 10 May 2007, revised 29 March