Wednesday 2nd August 2017. Heavy rain.
Carlingford is about 8 kilometres (5 miles) east of Omeath on the Cooley Peninsula and has a population of around 1,000 people.
Again, this is one of the places my family has tended to go for day trips.
As the suffix “-ford” suggests, there is a Viking connexion going back to the 9th century. a sea-battle was fought between Dubhgall and Fionngall (Black foreigners and White foreigners) in Carlingford Lough. It is generally assumed that these were Danish and Norwegian groups.
Carlingford seems more upmarket than Omeath…seafood restaurants and antiques. But it is also a centre for adventure sports such as kayaking at the harbour and orienteering and hill-walking in the Cooley Mountains.
It is picturesque. Dominated by (English) King John’s Castle. Named for him in , it is actually some decades older. In the 1990s, my wife and I used to shout “be careful!” to our two sons as they ran up the overgrown path to storm the castle. So it was amusing to hear one son and daughter-in-law shout the same warnings at their children in 2017.
The village has buildings from the same period. The Gatehouse with prison cell, the Mint and Taaffes Townhouse (often referred to as a “castle”).
The streets are narrow. One pub offers free “baby sitting” for any baby over 18 years old.
The long abandoned railway station serves as a tourist information centre and has an exhibition on Thomas D’Arcy Magee who was born in the area. There is also a prominent monument unveiled in 1991 by Brian Mulroney when Prime Minister of Canada. An earlier plaque was presented by Canadian premier, John Diefenbaker in the 1960s.
It seems that History might have been re-written. Magee was an Irish nationalist who fearing arrest for his politics fled to the United States. He then moved to Canada. He renounced his republican views and embraced British imperialism as a safeguard against the United States republicanism. As a consequence he was disowned by North American Fenians. He was shot dead by Patrick Whelan in Ottawa, Canada in 1868. Whelan was subsequently hanged.
So Magee is certainly a founding father of Canada. But the question has to be asked why his subsequent anti-republican views justifies a monument in Ireland.
While there is “written” and “re-written” History in Carlingford, there is also a nod to “unwritten” History…the legend of Setanta and The Táin (the Ulster Cycle).
Always a good place to visit.