Ancestral Places

My mother’s place is wild

Just blanket bog

My father’s people

Knew a greener place

For them the drumlins of Clew Bay

The little hills beside the sea

And Westport Newport

Never far away


The great divide

The hills of Nephin Beg

And the road that runs

Round Claggan mountainside

To the south a micro climate

Mulranny’s shingle shore

To the north the bogs of Erris

That claimed my heart astor


Two different worlds

Sitting side by side

One so green and beautiful

The other one so wild

Gentle waters in Clew Bay

Tamed as they roll in

And fierce Atlantic rollers

At Erris Head the din


Brian Fahy

25 February 2023


+ We went to Erris and to my mammy’s place every summer. It is wild. Then one summer when I was about thirteen we drove down from Bangor and through Mulranny and along to Newport. From there, using only his memory, my father took us along back roads in search of his own father’s home that he had visited and stayed in when a boy of fourteen. Unerringly he found it – Slinaunrue – and there we met my grandfather’s sister, Kate, and her son Paddy Nevin.


What struck me most on this visit was how different the landscape was. Erris is all bog land, moor and mountain. Here in my father’s country, the fields were green, the land little hilly drumlins that in fact continue out into Clew Bay as many islands. The places are so different in every way, and yet only thirty miles apart, and both are beautiful, one gentle the other rugged.


The road back to Erris from Newport takes you along the northern shore of Clew Bay as far as Mulranny. Mulranny became a favourite holiday spot for me when Maggie was alive. We loved to be on the beach there. After Mulranny the road divides. The main branch goes on to Achill Island, which is an adventure in itself, but a right fork takes you under the old railway bridge and suddenly you are in another world.


Scraggy sheep welcome you to drive along a windy road under the steep side of Claggan Mountain until the vista opens out and before you lie the wilds of Erris.


My mother’s people and my father’s father came from very near one another, and yet they were such contrasting places. I feel blessed to be connected to both the places and the people of my ancestry.





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