Monday, April 19, 2010


Ireland's northern coast is a wild and spectacular collision of land and sea, where bands of harder rock still stick defiant arms out into the water while softer parts have been carved into graceful coves and beaches. This is not a tranquil meeting of earth and water in salt marshes and reed beds, but rather a brutal, and often stunningly beautiful front in a timeless war of attrition.

The surrounding seas may sometimes be hostile, but they have been fruitful and plentiful - supplying countless generations of Ulster folk with a livelihood and food-source. The difficulty in this environment was landing the catch - a seemingly impossible task, given the tangles of shattered and splintered rock descending near-vertical slopes to the waves beneath. Many years ago ingenious fishermen devised a system in which a winch could be placed on a low-cliff above a more peaceful reach, the fish being hoisted up onto a small island promontory. That island though was separated from the mainland by a precipitous gorge, which they spanned with a rope bridge.

The old rope-bridge was apparently a spindly, dangerous affair. My in-laws recall going across it when it was quite slack, dipping deeply in the middle, and having very little rope-work on its sides to prevent a small slip resulting in a dramatic demise. Now in the care of the National Trust, and with the bridge renewed, it makes a great day out.

It's still a big enough drop to cause a sharp intake of breath if you allow yourself a brief look down!

1 comment:

sara! said...

ah. beautiful place indeed. unfortunately the bridge was closed as it was a cloudy windy winter day...