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The first took Somerville through some of the loneliest

The journey led him through the Barnesmore Gap [An Beanas More], which is a glacial valley that provides a route from north to south. Somerville relished the lonely beauty of the gap, which provided a long and challenging stage of the walk, but it is not an easy place in Winter, for the north of Ireland can suffer serious Atlantic snows, and the gap was in the past a haunt of highwaymen and footpads bent on robbing travellers, a reminder of Ireland's violent past,not all of which was due to the English presence. Having walked through Donegal and through the tiny stretch of Leitrim that separates that county from Sligo, he passed the magnificent Ben Bulben and came to nearby Drumcliffe. Benbulben is a mighty Palaeozoic coral reef that was jutted out of the ocean in primeval land rise and which became a mountain and now presents a steep slope to the Atlantic winds that scour the Sligo coast, but slopes more gently eastwards.


It was a great favourite of the poet Yeats who dwelt nearby and loved to walk its slopes and enjoy the views over Sligo. A visit to Yeats' grave at nearby Drumcliffe is almost a pilgrimage for literati. Somerville was then privileged to be given a tour of Lissadel House,the home of the Gore-Booth family, who were close to Yeats. This tour is not now available to anyone, as the house was eventually sold to rich people who exclude the public, to the chagrin of the successive Irish governments. The Road to RoaringwaterThe road to Roaringwater: A walk down the west of Ireland Southwards through Connaught.This was done in two stages: Sligo to Westport and then through Connemara to Galway. The first took Somerville through some of the loneliest lands in the British Isles, for which he needed a guide, for the drover's route that he took southwards went down paths [boreens] that took the driest route through the blanket bogs of West Mayo.

I have stood on land to the west of Lough Conn and gazed westwards towards the blue-hazed mountains of Mayo, and they looked beautiful, but they are not easy, for these mountains are difficult and the bogs between them demanding. The blanket bog that arose after climate change in the Bronze Age was so deep that it swallowed up the wonderful dry stone cattle management system of the Ceide Fields, [pronounced cagey] now happily rediscovered and archaeologically excavated. The author avoided the mountain tops, for these are difficult mounts, trade show booth display Manufacturers made of hard, slippery rock with much scree,dangerous places indeed. He tells of how Irish drovers took the pass through what is known as the Nephin Beg [Little Nephin] Range to deliver cattle from Mayo to the markets of Galway. There were some marvellous feats of endurance, with drovers walking many a long hour, and sometimes having to defend cattle and/or profits from robbers. This route interested me, as my wife Maureen's research into her family history turned up the interesting fact that her maternal grandmother was from a family of cattle dealers, who may well have used that drove road at times.

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