As you stand in a viewing area at the edge of the cliffs in the South West of Donegal, you can’t help but look out over the expanse that is the Atlantic ocean and marvel that the next stop is America. Slieve League, the highest sea cliffs in Ireland, are incomparable in their beauty and charm. Rich with colour and uniqueness they are perhaps the best kept secret that the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer.
It has a rich history and an abundance of stories. One I find to be particularly interesting has been passed down from generation to generation, and was shared to me by my grandfather who was a local born and raised in that area in the 1920s. It followed the battle fought by the Spanish Armada off the coast in the 1500s. One wounded captain summed the courage and strength to scale the side of the cliff and reach the top. Once he got there , he was met with concerned locals who watched his journey from the bottom. Faced with the reality of his impending death they hurried to get the priest who gave him his last blessing. Filled with gratitude, the captain gifted the priest a bag of sovereigns. The priest used the treasure to build two Spanish inspired chapels, one of which can be seen between Carrick and Glencolumbkille. The legend of the captain lives on as his shining headstone is said to be seen from the viewing gallery amongst the shower of rocks.
If you ever have the pleasure of visiting the cliffs or have done so already, try and look to the very bottom from the top and know that with just empty pillowcases on their backs, in the ‘40’s the young men of the area, which included my very own grandfather, climbed to the bottom of the cliffs to collect a seaweed called Dillisk for their families. The colour of this seaweed, a food so rich in iron and natural minerals , is especially worth a mention as it is a deep rich purple that nears on the side of black. Although it is nutritious and wonderfully attractive it is not for everyone’s palette.
Sitting proudly in the shallows below are two protruding rocks appropriately named by
locals as the Giant’s Desk and Chair. Once you see them, you can’t help but picture the giant that is mentioned in folklore wading in from the Atlantic and sitting to rest in his favourite place in Ireland. I like to imagine him writing a verse or two. We made the decision to shoot there as the scenery backdrop could be considered most bountiful in wonders and offering every colour imaginable. Our collection introduces new vivid colours that can be seen on the cliff face itself.
We took the photo shoot a few miles East to Glencolumbkille as it is a place that is perfectly genuine and rustic. It has not strayed even slightly from it’s original attractiveness. We found it particularly enriching to our efforts to capture the uniqueness of our new designs.
Glencolumbkille was once feeling the brunt of its lack of paid employment in the area. The efforts of a local clergyman Fr. Mc Dyer, his campaigning against the neglect of the area and his contributions saw an introduction of wool factories and weaving which brought much needed employment to the area. Another one of his contributions is the Folk Village within which part of our photo shoot was taken. Its untouched quaintness is the perfect setting for our designs as we insist in staying true to the pure, untouched feel of the Irish countryside.
So, if you are planning a trip, be sure and take in this perfect little village and surrounding areas and you will clearly recognise the relationship between our tweeds and the Donegal landscape.
- By Kerri O'Connor