|The bell tower on Toraigh||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.
|Church of the Seven on Toraigh|
|We have a cup of tea and some delicious cake and swiss roll at the café on Magheraroarty pier before the short drive to Dunfanaghy (dun-FAN-ah-hee). The skies are grey and heavy, and the rain seems deceptively light because of the high winds. I forego the Workhouse Heritage center and its famine display in favor of a saunter through the Dunfanaghy and part of Killyhoey beach.|
I go to a café called the Muck and Muffin for soup and tea. The entire café watches me eat my meal. I smile at people. The adults don't smile back. The children do, some even sliding out of their chairs to pretend to wander around so they can get closer and peep at me over the edge of my table. The last people of any skin color other than white that we saw were in Donegal Town. I have rarely felt so exotic in my life, or so self-conscious and uncomfortable.
Becca and Kegan join me after their visit to the heritage center. The addition of more exotic strangers relaxes me and also, peculiarly, seems to lessen the fascination of the onlookers. Still, I find myself longing for London and the cover of anonymity that a giant, bustling, cosmopolitan city provides.
|Bridge to Corrán Binne (Horn Head)|
|Snail||We take a short walk out to nearby Horn Head, which used to be an island before the inhabitants of it and Dunfanaghy cut down too much of the grass that held the surrounding sand dunes in place and the bay silted up, rendering the bridge from the mainland to Horn Head useless. We note that the teenagers of Dunfanaghy must be very, very bored (see below).|
We have a quiet evening at the hostel, as we're all inexplicably worn out. We need to retire early anyway so we can get an early start on our drive up the Inishowen peninsula to Malin Head.
|Sheep Shaggers of Horny Head|