23 Mar Bloody Foreland
Despite its tragic sounding name, reminiscent of battle grounds from Ireland’s turbulent history, the Bloody Foreland (Cnoc Fola) is a beauty spot which earned its title from the ruby and flame hues reflected from its granite cliffs, especially vibrant at sunset when the colour bleeds into the sea. Just off shore lie Inishbofin, Inishdooey and Inishbeg, largely uninhabited today, but the more distant Tory island still maintains an independent community of lobster fishermen and has been inhabited since prehistoric times. In ancient Irish ledgend Tory was the residence of Balor, the one-eyed Celtic god of Darkness, who seems to have been fitted with a laser beam in order to strike down his enemies. More recently it was home to monks of St Columba. Wrapped in amethyst mists, it is easy to see how such a spot could aquire a reputation for magic from the shore, and certain ancient beliefs still abound there, such as those of the ‘cursing stones’ which help drive away unwanted visitors.
Horn head (Corran Binne, or ‘Hollow in the Hills’) is a sheer quartzite cliff at the northernmost tip of the peninsula, which plunges 180m into the Atlantic ocean and affords spectacular views in good weather. It is also home to many colonies of seabirds, including the cartoon-like puffin with its bright orange beak, and their laments echo against the crashing surf below.