Author Archives: englishcountryhouses

The Enchanted Island

The mist cleared. And for a moment, I thought I saw it – the enchanted island of Manister Ladhra. Far out in the Atlantic, it hovered high and green and swathed in cloud, while the gulls danced on the wind … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Slaughter of Erris

It was just a folk-memory. A story that grandmothers told to children at the fireside. Once upon a time, so this story went, the King of Munster invaded Erris with a great army. There was a terrible battle among the sandhills … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A small act of remembrance

The little protestant church in Belmullet has been closed for half a century. Stark and forlorn, it stands on the edge of town, surrounded by its dead, waiting for revival or resurrection. You can find redundant Church of Ireland churches … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Rescue 116

I’m standing at the back door of the cottage, watching as a Coast Guard helicopter flies low and slow, tracing the line of Tullaghan Bay. Every now and then it pauses, hovering as the crew peer down at some shape … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Western World 2

Synge got three Guardian articles out of Erris, each illustrated with one of Jack Yeats’ oddly haunting drawings of thatched cabins, empty roads and half-formed faces. One day, they drove to the village of Geesala and walked out along the … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

The Western World 1

It is late. The square is full of flaring fire and people. In the falling midsummer light of a St John’s Eve crowds laugh and gasp at the antics of the boys as they hurl flaming paraffin-soaked sods of turf … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The edge of things

Cillíní, children’s burial grounds, gathered folklore to themselves, stories and beliefs that suggested that even if we forgot the unbaptised, the landscape would remind us of their presence. It was thought that if you walked on certain pieces of ground … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A place that harbours memory

There are several hundred children’s burial grounds, cillíní, in Mayo, and at least eighteen in Erris – probably more, since some sites must be lost to memory. Most of the Erris survivals are on or near the coast, like the … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Mound

Like so many of the burial grounds in Erris, the graveyard at Doohoma looks out to sea. The square two-acre plot lies on a quiet hillside a mile out of the village, close to the strand, walled and gated and … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Keats vs. Newton

Keats accused Newton of destroying all the poetry of the rainbow ‘by reducing it to the prismatic colours’. When I first started to notice the rainbows of Tullaghanbaun, part of me didn’t want to see the poetry drowned in a … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment