Today has been Cooley Day. Those who are interested in Irish myths and legends will think of the cattle raid that took place here in the distant past, not to mention the roles of Cuchulainn and Ferdia, and also of Queen Maeve of Connacht. But I’m not. I’m most interested in the places of the present day.
The first time I came to this part of Ireland was in July 1982 when I was 10, going on 11. I came on a camping trip with my mother to Omeath. Now from the perspective of a man my age it was not the best possible weekend. On the first night there was a disco party going on at Warrenpoint on the opposite side of Carlingford Lough and the sound carried across the still waters, clear as a bell. And this was in addition to the incessant drizzle. If I had been the age I am now I would have upped sticks and fled over Slieve Foy to Jenkinstown.
But to me at the time I was happy to be in a place where there was greenery all around, beside the sea and where we wouldn’t be pestered by 11th Night bonfires and Orange marches, where July the 12th was just another day, business as usual.
Forward to October 2012. Thanks to the internet, and specifically the websites of Translink and Bus Eireann, I was able to plan ahead down to the minute. I got off the bus at Carlingford, walked up Saint Oliver’s Park, as high up Slieve Foy as the asphalt road would take me, down again through the little townlands Grange, Upper Willville and then on to Greenore. The Lecale Peninsula in County Down is recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The same recognition shold be given to the Cooley Peninsula.
Now, I have to say there’s precious little at Greenore except a golf course and a lot of terraced houses that don’t really fit in with the Cooley Peninsula; they’d be better placed in Belfast or Dublin. Oh, and there’s a big, yellow crane at the harbour.
Back to Carlingford I went along the R173, found my way up to Dundalk Street and sat in a café called “Food for Thought”, resting my bones and drinking tea. I would have stayed learning a bit more about Carlingford’s past and present but it was starting to rain. So I jumped on the bus back to Newry and another one back to Downpatrick. Maybe I’ll write a bit more about Carlingford if and when I go back for a second visit.