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Lough Eske, Donegal Town, Ulster, Ireland

Lough Eske Nature Guide

At the foot of the Bluestack mountains, discover the abundance of flora, fauna & history around the lough.

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.5 miles / 5.6 km
Duration: 1 hour or less
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
 
Overview: 2014 update: this guide is part of the free Donegal App http://www.donegalapp.com/

Local poet William Allingham may well have had Lough Eske in mind when he wrote his poem, 'Four Ducks on a Pond': -

Four ducks on a pond,
A grass-bank beyond,
A blue sky of spring,
White clouds on the wing;
What a little thing
To remember for years-
To remember with tears!

Starting off at Lough Eske Castle by the banks of Lough Eske and at the base of the magnificent Bluestack mountains, this leisurely nature guide meanders by the shore before rising gently to give you a panoramic view of the area right across to county Tyrone. We'll be telling you a bit more about the area along the way, but we'd advise you to be on the look out for a myriad of sights and sounds that Mother Nature has on offer out here.

This guide is one of the many guides available on the Donegal Town App, all available for free - simply click on the link to the Donegal Town App via the EveryTrail platform to have access to all of them. For those viewing this page on Trip Advisor, it is worth going to the app with nearly 20 guides at your disposal, the difference being that certain guides have audio clips to enjoy. The link to the app is: http://www.everytrail.com/guide/donegal-town-guides. From there, you'll need to download each guide separately. We recommend using EveryTrail Pro for offline access. The more dedicated walker might be interested in downloading our new Bluestack Way app. In addition, we have a full free native app for County Donegal that includes nearly 600 Points of Interest of both the county and its neighbouring counties: http://www.donegalapp.com/

Some of the treats you can expect to find on your short jaunt are the (possible) sighting of golden eagles, Californian redwoods, red deer, blue hare and every sort of flora from marsh marigolds to cuckoo flowers, meadowsweet to umbellifers. You're in a place of immense beauty and fresh air where lichen grows freely as it does where air is truly fresh and where everyone from Fionn McCumhail to friars, gentry to bandits have visited and savoured.

It's now your turn as we tell you all you'll need to know about an area that contains both the biggest and the smallest townlands in Ireland, its abundance of wildlife and its connection with the Beatles, a place where the greatest of all medieval books was completed and theories of the lough being connected to Lough Ness have been expounded. Anyone in the know will tell you there's no where else on Earth quite like Donegal and in turn, there's no where in Donegal quite like Lough Eske. Welcome to a very special place indeed.

This guide is indebted to the knowledge and assistance of the area's leading guide, Patsy McNulty. If this guide has whetted your appetite, enjoy the real thing complete with the banter and turn of phrase that comes from a seasoned pro - contact Patsy on 086 7941234 about walks all around south west Donegal. Thanks also to Moya and Alex Reid for their encyclopedic knowledge of the area's flora and fauna.


Tips: This is an easy walk requiring average fitness and should take no more than an hour, but allow more to take in the wonderful flora and fauna of the area. Definitely worth bringing a camera and binoculars. Better still, make a day of it and bring a picnic to have at the picnic tables by the Famine Pot. In Autumn, bring a bag to carry picked ceps, should you fancy some foraging.

You are at all times on roads so remember to walk towards traffic and if possible, wear a high visibility jacket. Move in if possible on seeing approaching traffic - these quiet country roads see a lot more traffic with two well known hotels nearby. Both children and dogs will be able to enjoy this walk, but due care is needed - use a leash for the dog on the main road section.

If you are downloading, we recommend the use of the EveryTrail Pro app, which allows for offline map usage of the guide.

Points of Interest

Landmark
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Lough Eske castle

Our walk starts from the splendour of Lough Eske Castle. The flora highlight of the grounds can be seen at the front of the hotel in the form of a Specimen Cedar of Lebanon. There's plenty of fauna on show too, but they're all metallic!

This site has had a big house on it since 1621 with the Brookes of Donegal Castle infamy having a presence here until 1896. Thomas Brooke had the Derry architect Fitzgibbon Louch completely redesigned the existing manor house; the result was a grand Elizabethan-style residence finished in 1868 which became known as Lough Eske Castle. The castle was sold at the end of the century and later became a guest house; by the mid-twentieth century it was in a state of ruin having been destroyed by fire in 1939, but was reopened as Lough Eske Castle Hotel in December 2007.

You'll be starting the walk at the back of the castle and making your way through the gates and turning right. Going straight on would take you on the Road to Nowhere. Why such a curious name? The British government's belief in no charity during the Great Famine of the 1840s meant any relief measures had to be worked for. Many of the projects that the poor and hungry had to work on to get food from the relief agencies were of no strategic importance, just ways thought up by officials to make work for the starving. One such project was the road you are looking at from behind Lough Eske Castle, up Burns Mountain to the peak of Banagher Hill, the road to no where. The road had no practical use until hillwalkers started to follow its path for recreation over one hundred years later. Another reminder of those times can be seen later on at the nearby Famine Pot.

You'll by carrying on down the hill until you see the stone marker for Harvey's Point on your right.
Junction
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Turn right for Harvey's Point

You'll be taking a right here down towards the lough and to Harvey's Point. It's a looped walk that involves a gentle descent, a steeper ascent later on and two long stretches of road - the final stretch being the one to the left of the Harvey's Point sign.

Keep a look out for a ruin on your right through the trees - this was once the O'Donnell stronghold in Lough Eske desmesne. We'll be hearing a lot more about the O'Donnell's out here before the end of the walk.

As mentioned, the road's here are busier than perhaps the road builders intended so be careful and keep well in off the road when you hear a car approaching.
map

Down towards the lough

You may feel like the only person on the planet with the serenity and calmness of this area. This is not quite the case, but you are in interesting company. The mythical Fianna and their leader Fionn McCumhaill were supposed to be regular visitors to this area. They made their summer home in these parts and local lore is full of their exploits. Indeed they were more inclined to run than walk as was their zest for their greatest pastime, hunting. It is said Fionn could tell which mountain a deer was killed on by the taste of its meat. Tales involving Fionn always need a pinch of salt as the man who sought knowledge from sucking his thumb also was on a 16 year hunt for his wife Grainne and her lover, Diarmuid.
Audio
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Fionn
Water
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Eske angling centre

There can be few more enjoyable pastimes than angling. John Buchan observed that the charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive, but attainable, a perpetual series of occasion for hope. The lough and its tributaries are popular for fishing, especially for spring salmon, sea trout and char, with the season running from 1 March to 31 September. Tight lines!

For information in-season (1 May to 30 September) contact: Eske Angling Centre, Lough Eske Demesne. Tel: 0749740781. , As the centre will not be open all the time for the 2014 season, you can also contact the Fisheries Office in Ballyshannon first to check Summer opening hours.

For information off-season contact: Northern Regional Fisheries Board, Station Road, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal. Tel. 0719851435

Licence Fees in 2014
National Annual Licence e120
District Licence e58
21-day Licence e46
One-day Licence e32
Juvenile Licence (under 17) e18

Permit Fees in 2014
Note: You must have a permit as well as a fishing licence.
Daily Adult Permit e30
Daily Juvenile Permit e12
Weekly Permit (seven days' fishing e150
Permits are available for collection from the Eske Angling Centre, Lough Eske Demesne, just before Harvey's Point Country hotel. Tel: 0749740781.

Boat Hire for Lough Eske
Boat hire is e35 per day not including engine. This price does not include your angling permit. If you are fishing then you will need a fishing permit. Boat hire and an angling permit for one person is e50 inclusive. To purchase boat hire and angling permits for two people the cost is e80 inclusive. Maximum of two people per boat.
Audio
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Eske river
Water
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Tranquil waters?

You'll be by the lough's shores by now. Out on the shore you'll see O'Donnell Island, which was once a home to the O'Donnells of nearby Donegal Castle. From here, one of the most famous journeys in Irish history began on the 11th September 1607. Rory O'Donnell and his immediate family left their castle on Lough Eske that morning to walk for three days through the mountains to Rathmullan on the north coast of Donegal. There they joined with the O'Neill and Maguire families to sail to Spain on 14th September in what was became known as 'The Flight of the Earls', the final journey of the great Gaelic chieftain society which had ruled Ireland for the previous fifteen hundred years.

On a slightly less poignant note, the national daily, The Irish Daily Star, published a story entitled 'Look out, it's Eskie!' back in the summer of 1998, claiming monster sighting in the lake. Staff and residents at Harvey's Point told the reporter that at 2.30pm on Sunday 28 June 1998 saw an unidentified object moving about 300 m of the shore. Some people suggested that the Lough Eske Monster was a publicity stunt by local impresario, Zack Gallagher. He, however, has always denied this and has gone on record as believing in the existence of such a beast - and will tell you so if you buy him a beer to discuss the harrowing event! The less fanciful version is that a lost seal swam the short distant up the River Eske from Donegal Bay that day.

Other locals interviewed, such as bed and breakfast owners Annabel and Kieran Clarke, repeated some of the local folklore when they told the paper that some lakes in Donegal are said to be connected by current to Scotland, trying to make a link with the much more famous Loch Ness Monster. A look at a map does give credence to this theory - Gweebarra on the way to Dungloe is said to be a continuation of the great fault line that cuts through Scotland's Lough Ness, in effect the biggest crack in the world. The late Kieran Clarke was Ireland's finest piano technician. Besides clients such as Brendel and Argerich, he was the man who ensured the piano in Abbey Road studios sounded good. Quietly salute him next time you hear The Beatles' 'A Day in the Life'.
Viewpoint
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Lough Eske reeds

This is great place to savour both the surrounding hills and will be the closest view of the lough itself on the walk. Look out for flags, bulrushes, water lilies and reeds, as well as flowering rushes on the lough itself. The incoming rivers of the lough (and their meaning in Irish) are: -

Clashalbin River (The Gully of the White Mare), Lowerymore River (The Big River Abounding in Elms) , Corabber River, (The Humpy, Muddy, Boggy River), Clady River (The Mountain Stream) with the Eske River (The River abounding in Fish) taking the water the 3.5 miles to the sea.

The lough's islands are Pigeon's Island, Grania's Island, O'Donnell's Island and Roshin Island. O'Donnell's Island is regarded as the smallest townland in the country at 0.5 acres - the largest, Tawnawilly mountains at over 6000 acres is also out here, neither with a single human occupant!
Animals/Wildlife
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Fauna of the area

Around about this point of the walk, you might notice an animal on your left that always wins the hearts of younger walkers - a shetland pony.

Other animals to be looking out for in this area are: - red deer, fox, badger, shrew, red squirrel (recently making a welcome comeback), the less welcome cousin that is the grey squirrel, mink (an unwanted import), stoat, pine marten, otter, Irish hare, blue hare, field mouse and bats. Of note up in nearby Lough Belshade is the rarely seen white hare, but a recent conversation with that rare beast spotter, Zack Gallagher, confirmed that it has also been seen in his back garden out the Old Laghey road!

Across the road, this sheltered cove before Harvey's Point is the best place to see the whooper and mute swans that frequent the lough.
Hotel
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Harvey's Point

The imposing stonework lets you know that you are at Harvey's Point. Anyone who knows 'Field of Dreams' will appreciate the film's motif 'build it and they will come' which could equally apply to this area's own field of dreams. Back in 1983, Swiss entrepreneur squelched about a quagmire named after a local man and told this writer's father that he planned to build a country house hotel there. Nobody quite got the Masterplan back then and not a red cent came in grants or support. These days visitors, awards and success cannot get enough of the place. Ironic that they in turn would not give a red cent to this fledgeling business when asked...
Viewpoint
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Quiet laneway

You're now moving away from the main traffic as the road narrows. It's a great place to tell you about the flora of the area. You should be looking out for the following along this section: -

- Whins, ferns (whins and ferns give area its most typical colours gold and bronze)
- Bluebells (in woods in late April/early May especially near nearby Ardnamona)
- Montbretia (import now naturalised around ditches, lovely in August/September)
- Lichens ( grey lichens on old stone walls evidence of purity of air of Bluestacks)
- Marsh marigolds, cuckoo flowers, meadowsweet, umbellifers, irises
- Buttercups in moist meadows
- Selfheal, bird trefoil, oxeye daisies, clovers in drier fields.

It's said that lichen could tell early man of which direction he was facing - with lichen growing on the southern face of rocks as it got its daily sun! Come the Autumn, this whole area is an excellent place to forage - just make sure you know what you're picking!

Viewpoint
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View of the wind turbines

The wind turbines you can see across the lough are right on the border with the United Kingdom; that's how close you are to County Tyrone. By the 1970s the serious recreational walker had arrived at the Bluestacks and was coming from Tyrone. They were as yet a very small but very dedicated group. In hindsight, they were before their time in more than one way.

The white poles they put in to mark their way, came over the border at Pettigo and traversed the bluestacks from Ederigole to Glenfinn and were one of the first cross border co-operations to be launched at the height of the Northern troubles, thirty years before it became fashionable, after the Good Friday Agreement. But the pathways were let fall to disrepair during the late 80s and late 90s. But then in the early 90s local interest began to grow, culminating in the formation of a local walking club, The Bluestack Ramblers.
Animals/Wildlife
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Birdsong

Now that we have a little less of mankind down this path, we can listen properly to the birdsong which is excellent around here. As well as common birds like magpies, blackbirds, robins thrushes, starlings, tits, wrens, the following list is more notable around Lough Eske:-

Ravens, mallard, grebe, grey wagtail, pheasant, plover, kingfisher,, curlew, dipper, snipe, grey heron, sandpiper, sedge warbler, goldfinch, wood pigeon, collared dove, owl and ouzel.

Birds of prey are quite commonly seen down this way. Sparrow hawks and peregrine falcons are regularly seen swooping in for their supper.

If you are really lucky, you may well get to see one of the two golden eagles that were recently re-introduced to the area. Speaking to Patsy McNulty who lives out in Lough Eske, he sees them about once a week, so you might get lucky. Resist the temptation to expedite your chances by swinging a chunk of meat from the local butchers!
Audio
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Birdsong 2
Viewpoint
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Lough shores

These waters will be remembered in history as the place where the O'Donnells fled Donegal in 1607, but seeing as we're in a poetic vein, here are the words to O'Donnell Abu by M.J McCann to mark better times - O'Donnell's victory in Ballyshannon in 1597, the melody of which is still used by RTE radio as their theme tune:-

Proudly the note of the trumpet is sounding
Loudly the war cries arise on the gale
Fleetly the steed by Lough Swilly is bounding
To join the thick squadrons on Saimer's green vale
On every mountaineer, strangers to flight or fear
Rush to the standard of dauntless Red Hugh
Bonnaught and Gallowglass, throng from each mountain
Pass onward for Erin O'Donnell Abu!

Princely O'Neill to our aid is advancing
With many a chieftain and warrior clan
A thousand proud steeds in his vanguard are prancing
'Neath the borderers brave from the Banks of the Bann
Many a heart shall quail under its coat of mail
Deeply the merciless foeman shall rue
When on his ears shall ring bourn on the breeze's wing
Tir Conwell's dread war cry, O'Donnell Abu!

Wildly o'er Desmond the war wolf is howling
Fearless the eagle sweeps over the plain
The fox in the streets of the city is prowling
And all who would scare them are banished or slain
On with O'Donnall then, fight the old fight again
Sons of Tir Conwell are valiant and true
Make the proud saxon feel Erin's avenging steel
Strike for your country O'Donnell Abu!
Viewpoint
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Barnesmore in the distance

This is the very heart of the county, where north meets south' it's an extraordinary sight whether you see it from Sligo or coming south from Letterkenny. Ensure you stop off at Biddy's O'Barnes pub. Tales of highwaymen, hanging, fairies and strange weather abound in this place - make sure you see the information on the walls by the restrooms in Biddy's to get an idea of what we mean.

There is a mountain on either side of the gap - the mountain you see on your left is Croagh Connallach (Conal's Mountain) and the mountain on your right is (Eoghan's Mountain). From 1882 right through to 1959, a spectacular rail journey could be made through the gap on An Muc Dubh or The Black Pig train. Today, there is no commercial railway in the county, the only county without any rail line (but arguably the one most deserving one to truly enjoy its scenery).

Local Donegal Town John Boyce had a nom de plume of Paul Peppergrass and as a writer, he may be known to some of our elder American cousins. One of Peppergrass's best known works was called 'Shandy McGuire'. The book was so popular with the Irish in America that it was dramatised and for many years was a feature of stage productions on St. Patrick's Night - the setting and language of this perennial favourite was of Barnesmore and its people.
Animals/Wildlife
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Coming to the woods

As you turn left away form the lough, you'll be walking with the gentle gush of the Clady river on your right for company. Now might be a good time to tell you of the trees to view in the area.

Our next stop is the Ardnamona woods walk which is well worth the diversion. Look out for the tallest spruce in Donegal behind the old mill in the wood. This mill was once used for electric supply to Lough Eske Castle. Also of note in the Ardnamona area is the vestigial oak from prehistoric forest now Duchas Reserve beside lake north shore, once part of Ardnamona. The aforementioned Clarkes were keen landscapers and cultivated rhododendra and Azalea in Ardnamona gardens, which is on the State recommended list.

Other tress and growth of note in the Lough Eske area include: beech, birch, ash, wild cherry, hazel, rowan (mountain ash), blackthorn, whitethorn, willow (black sally and white), sycamore, alder, elder, yew, Scots pine, larch and the wild rose.

You'll have already noted the specimen Cedar of Lebanon at the front of Lough Eske Castle. If not, make sure you do before finishing! Good bog oak has been found out here - it can be dug out of bog on hillsides remains of primeval forest. Finally, you're in for a treat near the end of the walk with the California Redwood in the Coillte wood near the Famine Pot.
Audio
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Yew tree
Animals/Wildlife
map

Ardnamona woods walk

Want to go off road and sample a walking path loops around large oak, hazel and holly trees in a woodland that is left in its natural state? You've found it at the Ardnamona woods walk. Look out for mosses, bluebells, wood sorrel, streams and the lakeside to enjoy on this delightful walk developed by National Parks and Wildlife Service. The wood is also home to red squirrel, badger, fox and mink. Dogs are only allowed if kept on a lead. Allow one hour to complete this separate walk.

On your right you'll see a two-story house. Turn into entrance of the house crossing the bridge over the Clady river, go past the house. About 100m on the left, you'll see parking facilities.The house is private property- don't go asking them questions!

Walk Directions - see the map attached.
A-B. There is an information sign inside the gate. At the first junction go straight and the route ascends gently up to junction B, where the trail turns down to the right.
B-C. The path winds steeply down for a short while, and crosses a number of little streams. Watch out on your left for one great example of new branches growing vertically from an old fallen trunk. Then you arrive at the shore of Lough Eske, with stunning views over the lake and the magnificent Bluestack Mountains rising behind it.
C-D. As you continue along the path you cross another footbridge. The route has a few short steep sections, but the beauty of this natural broadleaf woodland will more than compensate you for the strain.
D-A. At the top of the path you are back where you started, with the entrance gate on your left.
Information
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Up the hill

As we approach the old friary location, we'll tell you of another interesting fact about the area. Lough Eske is the only recorded place in County Donegal where a Síle na Gig was found - you'll see more about it on the Information Board by the Famine Pot. These were are stone carvings of women with exposed genitals, most often found in churches, usually near the doorway, or castles - in this case, on O'Donnell Castle.

Far from being erotic carvings, the women portrayed tend to appear old and are certainly not titillating, some hold their genitals apart, others seem to be screaming. Síle-na-Gig are not unique to Ireland, they are found throughout the British Isles and in France and some parts of Germany also. Lots of theories have been put forward about their origin. Some say they are illustrations of the effects of the sin of lust or symbols to ward off evil. Another theory is that they are goddesses of birth or fertility, pre-Christian artifacts in spite of their being mainly found in churches.

In many cases it appears as if the carvings are older than the buildings in which they are found, possibly moved to their new locations at the time a church or castle was built, which would seem to support the pre-Christian theory. Many men of the church were horrified at the look of them and had them removed, so credit where it is due to the friars out here who were to leave it be. Once moved from the island to Lough Castle, it disappeared over a 100 years ago and hasn't been seen since. Someone has a unique artifact on their mantlepiece!
Junction
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Turn left at Yield sign

As you approach the top of the hill, you'll be taking a left and leaving the signs for the Bluestack Way behind you.

This area is commonly regarded as the site of the old Franciscan friary, indeed the townland is called Friary. As Catholicism was suppressed in Ireland, the Franciscan community was banished from their friary in Donegal Town. They moved to their new home in the wilderness of Lough Eske, as it was described in a letter by St Oliver Plunkett to his Superiors when he was Bishop of Ireland. From their new home, which gave its name The Friary to a townland on the shores of the lake, these Monks dressed in their long brown robes, walked through the hills to bring the message of God to their parishes and far beyond.

One of the routes they took was a path known as 'Casan na Brathra', the Brothers Path, which led from Lough Eske through the Bluestacks to Glenfin, no easy walk on the best of days. This path, still to be seen and often used by hillwalkers, was marked by piles of stones, every quarter of a mile or so, with a white quartz stone on top, which could easily be seen in rain or fog, to guide the brothers on their way. Indeed, it was probably in this Friary, where the final chapters of the 'Annals of the Four Masters' were written, effectively the first complete history of Ireland.

Another nearby walk of note is The Lake Circuit. This walk starts on the Bluestack Way and moves into the hills. It is a pleasant circuit walking in the hills without too much height gain. Taking in the views and ambling around four lakes nestled in between the mountains. This is a track and hill walk and suitable for people with moderate level of fitness. This walk can be used as an introduction to hill walking.

Don't be too distracted - we need to turn left, don't forget!
Viewpoint
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First upper view of Lough Eske

If you manage to get a good day, this is a chance to see why the place enjoys is reputation of scenic splendour. Down below you is Lough Eske or Lough Eask from Irish: Loch Iascaigh or Loch Iasc meaning somewhat prosaically "Lake of the Fish"). The lake is about 900 acres (3.6 km2) in size and is surrounded to the north, east and west by the Bluestack mountains, which occupy most of central and eastern County Donegal right into neighbouring Tyrone.

The lake and its tributaries are popular for fishing, especially for spring salmon, sea trout and char, with the season running from 1st March to 31st September.
Viewpoint
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Hillside

The 147 stacks or peaks known as the Bluestack mountains are broken into four sections: the north range, the Blue Stack range, the north east range and on the far side of Barnesmore, the east range.

Because of its natural beauty, peace and tranquility, Lough Eske and the Bluestacks has always been a place where man has thought about, and sought to connect with, his God or Gods, as the case maybe. Many well worn paths lead up Banagher Hill, 'Beann an Actual', the place of the Sacrifice, the first Bluestack you meet as you leave Donegal Town.

The first Stone Age farmers climbed this hill to the spot they call Leagan, the place of the standing stones, to pray to their Gods and offer sacrifices that they may have a happier after-life. This they must have done in great numbers and a great many times as the paths they left can be still clearly seen thousands of years later.
Information
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Long stretch

There are two old traditional walks in the Bluestacks, still practiced to the present day. The first one is the walk up Carnaween on the first Sunday in June. Hundreds of people still do this walk on the day to keep the old tradition alive. People usually climb from three sides, Drimarone, the Glen of Glenties and Silverhill. Traditionally it was a way of meeting and keeping in touch with people from the other sides of the mountain before the days of the mobile phone. Many's the match it is said, was made on the top of Carneween!

The other traditional walk, which is sadly dying out, was on the third Sunday in July is Bilberry or Heatherberry Sunday. In olden times people went to the mountain on this day to gather Bilberries or Heatherberries to make a kind of wine. It was used as a tonic to keep the body sound. Hear some more about it on our audio piece.
Audio
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Bilberry Sunday
Building
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The Yank's house

Michael the affable American who lives here is always good for a natter (if he's out and about that is - don't go calling!). Other more ancient local residents are long gone, but won't be forgotten. Their biggest mark being the wedge tomb in Winterhill and the Cairn tomb in the townland of Tawnavorgal you are currently passing by.

Other people who left an indelible mark on the landscape arrived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and, over the next two hundred years were to put a name on every stone, cliff, lough and stream that was to be found in the 147 stacks or hills around here - the Stack of the Big Man, The Mountain Breast of the Three Streams, The Low Hill of the Skulls, the Stack of the Lake of the Disappearing Water and the Hill of the Smooth Place of the Mice were all named by them.

These were the men that followed the newly introduced Scottish blackfaced sheep and freely roamed the wide open spaces. This opened up a new source of income for the small tenant farmer on land, before, regarded as useless. These men, mostly Irish speaking, were the great Custodians of the Mountains as they tramped each day, faithful dog at their foot over great expanses of moor and rock after their flocks.
Landmark
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Famine pot

As you approach the last major landmark on this walk, look out for some California Redwood in the Coillte wood near the Famine Pot. They're relatively young trees so don't expect to see the massive beauties around the Big Sur in the Golden State.

From this pot were the impoverished locals fed during the Great Hunger of the late 1840s. There's further signage about the area by the pot, as well as a good car park and a looped walk starting right beside the pot.

The famine of the 1840s or the Great Hunger, caused by a complete failure of the potato crop, was the most devastating event in 19th century Ireland. The famine pot at Lough Eske reminds us of that sorry period when a million people died of starvation and famine related disease and another million plus were forced to emigrate from the likes of The Hassans near Donegal Town, many of them to die in the coffin ships before reaching their destination.

Up until very recently, the area still had a handful of locals who could recount some poignant tale in their own family which has been handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation. Jim McMullin, from Meenadreen was one such local who recalled many harrowing stories told to him by his grandfather who was one of the lucky ones to live through the famine and die naturally in 1911.
Junction
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Back to the junction

You have now come full circle and should carry on straight to get back to the car park at Lough Eske Castle or take a left if on for some refreshment from Harvey's Point. Either way, you are in for a treat. We hope you have enjoyed this walk and will consider coming back to take one of the many walks on offer in the vicinity.

Thanks again to Patsy McNulty for his knowledge in helping put this guide together. Why not contact this qualified tour guide for one of those many walks next time around? Call him on 0877941234.
Pictures in this guide taken by: navigatourist

2011, Headland New Media

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