Legend tells us that St. Deirbhile travelled to this part of Erris to escape a lover in whom she was not interested. However, she was followed here, and in sheer frustration and to make herself less irresistible, she gouged out her own eyes. When her horrified admirer left, she washed her eyes in the waters of a well and her sight was restored. This is St. Deirbhile’s Well. The water from this blessed well is alleged to have curative properties for eye complaints. A pilgrimage takes place annually to the well on August 15th in honour of St Deirbhile. St. Deirbhile’s Church (Teampall Deirbhile) is located not far from the well.
Occasionally, locals and visitors can be seen squeezing themselves through the west window of the 12th century Teampall Deirbhile (St. Deirbhile’s Church) no less than three times! According to legend, if someone can do this, they will never die from drowning. The old church is beautifully located in Fál Mór, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the islands. Legend tells us that St. Deirbhile travelled to this part of Erris to escape a lover in whom she was not interested. However, she was followed here, and in sheer frustration and to make herself less irresistible, she gouged out her own eyes. When her horrified admirer left, she washed her eyes in the waters of a well and her sight was restored. This is St. Deirbhile’s Well, which is located not far from the Church. A pilgrimage takes place annually to the well on August 15th in honour of St Deirbhile.
Known locally as Glosh Tower, this Napoleonic Signal Tower was built by the British in the early 19th century, to warn authorities if a French invasion fleet was spotted offshore, and to protect the coastline from attack.
Looking across to the island of Inis Gluaire (Inishglora) – the burial place of the Children of Lir – Cross Abbey contains an ancient burial ground where Dean Lyons and the poet Riocáird Bairéad are buried. The Abbey is thought to be an Early Christian monastic settlement, from where monks would travel across to Inis Gluaire. You can find out more about the history of Cross Abbey at Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre in Eachléim (Aughleam).
The famous Irish writer, John Millington Synge (1871 – 1909), spent a lot of time in Erris. His masterpiece ‘The Playboy of the Western World’ is based in Erris and refers to 15 Erris placenames. On the Bangor – Belmullet road in Glencastle, you will see a large, flat-topped boulder, on which a cross is engraved. This historic stone is the scene of a terrible crime – which Synge wrote about in his famous poem, ‘Danny’. This is the last verse:
And when you're walking out the way
From Bangor to Belmullet,
You'll see a flat cross on a stone
Where men choked Danny's gullet.
A well known archaeologist, Françoise Henri visited the Inis Gé islands in the 1930s and again in the 1950s. On the north island, you will discover the ruins of St. Colmcille's Church, the Bailey Mór, Bailey Beag and Bailey Dóite - small circular areas which contained beehive huts, used by monks in the Early Christian period. On the south island is a tall cross-inscribed slab and nearby are the foundations of a small church. The islands of Inis Ge were clearly an important centre in the Early Christian period.
The discovery of what is now known as Céide Fields really began back in the 1930s when a local schoolteacher, Patrick Caulfield from Belderrig, often noticed piles of stones in the bottom of the blanket bog when cutting his turf. To everybody else, these were meaningless but he realised two very important points - firstly, the way the stones were piled up couldn't be natural so somebody had to put them there, and secondly, because they were down underneath the peat they had to be put there prior to the growth of the bog and so must be very ancient.
The visitor centre at the Céide Fields not only presents the archaeology of the site but also the botany, bogs and geology of the area. It is located beside spectacular 370ft high cliffs.
In the grounds of Áras Inis Gluaire in Belmullet, you will find a human sundial. There are only three other such public sunclocks in Ireland. The clock was created by members of Baile Slachtmhar Bhéal an Mhuirthead (Belmullet Tidy Towns) and it is wonderful for both locals and visitors to enjoy!
Turas Siar is an Irish Language and Culture centre. Pap and Kathryn Murphy provide a local history service and a genealogy service through the medium of the Irish language and their centre contains a wealth of authentic information and items in relation to the people and the places of Erris in times past. A wonderful place that is full of stories.