Ireland: Gleniff Horseshoe

I still have plenty of Tassie content to come but am also super keen to get all the Ireland blog posts out and complete. Almost there I promise!

In my research before travelling to Ireland, I came across a photo of an abandoned building with some rugged cliffs behind it and promptly added it to our custom Google Map for the trip. Following a lovely lunch in Sligo with my Aunt and Uncle, we hit the road north and continued along the Wild Atlantic Way towards the upper reaches of Ireland.

I remembered that the Gleniff Horseshoe area, which I’d seen on my hunt for cool locations was nearby and requested we take a little detour to check it out. It was more than worth the few minutes drive away from the main N15 route. We parked next to the Old School House which has long since been abandoned as an education institute and nowadays serves a more agricultural role, as a sheep shearing structure.

Looming ominously above is the cave of Diarmuid and Grainne, where according to legend the two lovers hid from famed warrior Fionn MacCumhail, whom Grainne was supposed to marry. Many years passed and Diarmuid thought Fionn had forgiven him but he was wrong. Fionn lured him up onto nearby Ben Bulben on a hunting trip and after Diarmuid was gored by a massive boar, Fionn let his former friend die despite having the power to save him.

Ireland is riddled with famous mythical locations like this and you could spend your whole life exploring them and reading the stories. One of the more well known books on Irish folklore makes the Lord of the Rings look like a short story written on a napkin in comparison.

Magic and mysticism still abound at the Gleniff Horseshoe as if you look really REALLY closely at these pictures, you’ll spot something you won’t believe. Those tiny white dots high up on the Cliffs of Annacuna are in fact sheep! The only answer I have as to how they got there is they must have flown. Sorcery indeed!

The area we explored was a tiny portion of the greater Gleniff Horseshoe drive which is almost 10km of winding road that flows around the cliff edges that dominate this area. I’d definitely recommend a side-trip to check this out if you’re in the area as there’s lots more to see in the surrounding area and plenty more stories to discover. This was one of those places where there’s a genuine sense of that Irish whimsical folklore, that hasn’t been diluted by an army of tour buses nor has tourists climbing all over it.

That’s probably partly due to the local landowner Andy “Bull” McSharry who had a well published campaign against trespassers on his land. You should always respect the local landowners and stick to the public areas, even if you’re itching to get a little closer to that waterfall or cool looking cave. Be respectful.

A beautiful waterfall at Gleniff Horseshoe.
A freshly sheared sheep looking to get back to his mates on the cliffs above. Just fly mate, that’s how they got there clearly.
The former School House at Gleniff. A beautiful structure that now houses sheep learning how to lose their wool via shearing scissors.
See the sheep? Yup! How the feck did they get up there?
Diarmuid and Grainne’s cave. This photo gives no sense of scale, it is huge!

Enjoyed the VERY abridged version I wrote of the story of Diarmuid and Grainne? Check out this much more in depth version for the full shebang. It’s a great read and a fine taster for Irish folklore.

One thought on “Ireland: Gleniff Horseshoe

  1. “Magical” is the word that best applies to this post. (Although “gorgeous” also comes to mind for your photos, and “hilarious” for your theory on flying sheep.) Thank you for whisking your readers away to this enchanting landscape. I do hope that poor bedraggled sheep eventually found its mates, though. 🙂

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