August 23rd, 2005

me: ooh!

Day 8: Dunfanaghy

The bell tower on Toraigh</td>
As we leave the hostel the next morning, thinking we'll have a leisurely day to spend exploring Toraigh, the proprietress comes steaming up to us to warn us that the sound is so choppy there will only be one ferry crossing that day and possibly none tomorrow. Since we're on a tight schedule, we can't risk not leaving until Friday, so we take a quick turn about the western end of An Baile Thiar, pack our bags and hop on the boat, feeling disappointed. We all spend the ferry ride sitting down, as the sea tosses us around mercilessly. Huge waves break over the eastern end of Toraigh and Inis Bó Finne.

The image to the left shows the only remaining structure on Toraigh from the monastery founded by St. Colmcille in the sixth century AD. The rest was destroyed a thousand years later by English troops, trying to suppress the local chieftains. An Cloigtheach (The Bell Tower), made of local granite stones and mortared with sea-shell lime has survived the centuries remarkably well. Two of its three levels are actually underground.

Móirsheisear (Church of the Seven), an early Christian oratory, is below. In addition to the altar, its tomb contains the bodies of six men and a woman who drowned when their boat capsized off the northwest coast of Toraigh. Local superstition holds that clay from the woman's grave keeps Toraigh free from rats.
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