- August 2003
We arrived in Lough Swilly on Ireland's North Coast on 4th August,
after a long day's sail from Islay. Our first international landfall!
Next day we moved down to the head of the loch passing through spectacular
thunderstorms en route. Lightning flashing all around makes you
feel a bit nervous when you are sitting at the foot of a 40 foot
aluminium pole (the mast). Anyway, we were lucky this time, but
as a precaution we disconnected our VHF antenna and put the camera
and handheld GPS in the pressure cooker (this protects electronics,
acting as a Faraday cage in the event of a strike).
We spent a few days just getting used to Ireland (and the Guinness)
again. Sue worked near Dublin for 18 months about twenty years ago
when Tom was chasing her and we both have a soft spot for the country
and her people. The Irish just seem to have a great talent for enjoying
But time to move on, so we headed west along the north coast to
the island of Tory. As we entered the harbour, we could see an abandoned
liferaft on the shore, from a tall ship wrecked on the rocks here
There was music in the hotel that night - it started at midnight!
(opening times in Irish pubs are a bit unpredictable). It was a
good night with some Irish set dancing.
There is an unusual T-shaped cross on Tory from the time of St
Columba, complete with grooves left by one of Cromwell's soldiers
who liked to cut down stone crosses with his sword.
After Tory Island, we headed south to the island of Aranmore, again
in beautiful sunshine - what a great summer we're having!
Our next stop was one we had been looking forward to for over a
year... last May while passing through the Caledonian canal, we
had met three great lads and great musicians called Paddy, Thomas
and Derek. After a memorable session onboard, they even helped us
with our ropes as we locked up after only 3 hours sleep! As we left
they made us promise to pop into Teelin in Donegal on our way south.
Paddy met us as we entered Teelin harbour in his usual quiet reserved
fashion (yelling and waving). For the next three days we enjoyed
great company, music, Guinness and sightseeing.
With Derek, Thomas, Paddy and Christina
in The Cuil a Duin.
The Giants Table and Chair, from
Thomas, Paddy and Derek playing in Jon Joe's,
viewed from near Slieve League.
|We left Teelin, amazed at the friendliness and generosity
of the people and wondering if we would ever come across any better
place to visit.
We spent the next few days sheltering in Broadhaven bay, waiting
for the strong southerly winds to die down. Eventually the wind
came round to the east and we headed south once more. After stopping
one night at the island of Inishbofin (beautifully sheltered harbour
with Cromwellian ruins, oh and a pub or two), we sailed through
the night to get to Dingle in the south west of Ireland. Although
quite a rough passage, we made good speed beam-reaching at 6 knots
on a double-reefed main and a scrap of jib. During the night, Mars
shone brightly up ahead, it being closer to earth than it has been
for 60,000 years. We also got visits from dolphins, only detectable
by the occasional phosphorescent streak in the black sea and their
whistles and clicks coming through the hull.
Dingle was a great place to rest up and prepare for
the crossing to La Coruna in northern Spain (52 pubs!). However,
with the September gales coming, it was time to move on in order
to avoid a rough passage across the Bay of Biscay, so on the last
day in August, we slipped our mooring lines and headed south again.
In spite of its natural beauty, history and culture,
the best things about Ireland are undoubtedly its people and the
'craic' - a great combination of drink, music and general good nature.
Nechtan in Dingle Marina.
Email us: tomandsueATmcnaughtan.net (replace AT with @ before sending!)