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The Northern Half of the Island of Ireland

Derry to Donegal

semi-overcast 65 °F

As it was Sunday, we headed off to Church for the 10:00am Mass at St. Columba Long Tower. The present church is built on the site of Roman Catholic worship which goes back as far as the 12th century. The current Long Tower Church began life in 1783 in a much smaller scale than seen today. Father John Lynch, a parish priest in Derry started action to raise funds for building the Long Tower Church and he received finance not just from Roman Catholics but also Protestant people in Derry at the time. The church was opened in 1788.

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From there we checked out of the hotel and headed west. Our first stop was the ancient fort Grianan of Aleach. The Grianan of Aileach, sometimes anglicised as Greenan Ely or Greenan Fort, is a hillfort atop the 244 metres (801 ft) high Greenan Mountain at Inishowen in County Donegal, Ireland. The main structure is a stone ringfort, thought to have been built by the Northern Uí Néill, in the sixth or seventh century CE; although there is evidence that the site had been in use before the fort was built. It has been identified as the seat of the Kingdom of Ailech and one of the royal sites of Gaelic Ireland. The wall is about 4.5 metres (15 ft) thick and 5 metres (16 ft) high. Inside it has three terraces, which are linked by steps, and two long passages within it. Originally, there would have been buildings inside the ringfort. Just outside it are the remains of a well and a tumulus.

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From there we headed to the north coast to the Fanad Head Lighthouse where we were able to climb to the top as part of our tour. This light is classified as a sea light as distinct from a harbour light although it does mark the entrance into Lough Swilly which forms a natural harbour of refuge. In 1812 the frigate Saldana was wrecked on Fannet Point, as it was called then, and became a total loss except for the ship's parrot which bore a silver collar inscribed Saldana. Soon after the loss of this vessel Captain Hill of the Royal Navy in Derry, whose experience of the north-west coast from Blacksod to Lough Foyle was second to none, wrote to one of the members of the Corporation for Preserving and Improving the Port of Dublin (the Ballast Board) suggesting that a lighthouse should be placed on Fannet Point. He also backed up his request by stating that the Saldana would not have been lost if there had been a light on Fannet. Without question the Board approved Captain Hill's request and they approached Trinity House, who gave their sanction in July 1814.

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Ater those beautiful views we went to Doe Castle. Doe Castle, or Caisleán na dTuath, near Creeslough, County Donegal, was the historical stronghold of Clan tSuibhne (Clan McSweeney), with architectural parallels to the Scottish tower house. Built in the early 15th century, it is one of the better fortalices in the north-west of Ireland. The castle sits on a small peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water, with a moat cut into the rock of the landward side. The structure consists mainly of high outer walls around an interior bawn with a four-storey tower-house or keep.

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Posted by rpickett 09:21 Archived in Ireland Tagged to donegal derry

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