BSW1 8. Barnesmore in the distance
From the Bluestack Way - Part 1 playlist.
Keep walking along the path - in the distance, you'll see Barnesmore, which is the first major access point through the mighty Bluestacks between Binbane on the Glenties road and Killeter in County Tyrone.
This is the very heart of the county, where north meets south - it's an extraordinary sight whether you see it from Sligo or coming south from Letterkenny. On another visit to the county, ensure you stop off at Biddy's O'Barnes pub where you'll find our speaker Meghan at work. Tales of highwaymen, hangings, fairies and strange weather abound in this place - make sure you see the information on the walls by the restrooms in Biddy's to get an idea of what we mean.
There is a mountain on either side of the gap - the mountain you see on your left is Croagh Connallach (Conal's Mountain) and the mountain on your right is (Eoghan's Mountain). From 1882 right through to 1959, a spectacular rail journey could be made through the gap on An Muc Dubh or The Black Pig train. Today, there is no commercial railway in the county, one of only three counties without any rail line (but arguably the one most deserving one to truly enjoy its scenery).
Local Donegal Town John Boyce had a nom de plume of Paul Peppergrass and as a writer, he may be known to some of our elder American cousins. One of Peppergrass's best known works was called 'Shandy Maguire'. The book was so popular with the Irish in America that it was dramatised and for many years was a feature of stage productions on St. Patrick's Night - the setting and language of this perennial favourite was Barnesmore and its people.
Our audio piece has Meghan Slevin from Biddy's telling us a bit about the legends of the gap and how it got its name.