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  • Writer's pictureColumbia Hillen

Lured by the land of Lugh

As the announcement of the Wild Atlantic Way was made this week, I decided to revisit one of Donegal’s most magical areas along this 2,500 km drive - the Poisoned Glen in Donegal. I had just been to say hello to the ‘old man and the sea’ in Bloody Foreland, but he was in no mood for conversation, so I left him counting the waves, with his seagulls.

northwest donegal, wild atlantic way, columbia hillen photography
Bloody Foreland, Donegal Ireland

As I drove down the winding road into Dunlewey valley, I found myself drawn to the mighty, silver-haired Errigal, surveying the northwest coast. The White Witch living in the valley once told me how on certain days, she can see the castle the fairies have built on top of the mountain. That’s why, she said, “Donegal still retains the mystical air, because the little people still survive here.”

errigal mountain, mount of lugh, donegal wild atlantic way
Errigal mountain Donegal Ireland

It is this valley that still holds secrets about an ancient battle between the one-eyed Balor and his grandson, Lugh. And there is no shortage of local people who are willing to tell you a story or two about it. For some, Lugh means the ‘Sun God’ and others say he is an Irish deity represented in mythological texts as a hero and High King of the distant past. Other sources describe Lugh as “a god of both skill and the distribution of talent.

He and his nature goddess consort (Rosmerta) were worshipped during the 30 day Lugnasad midsummer feast in Ireland. Fertility magic during this festival ensured ripening of the crops and good harvest. He was called Lamfhada or 'of the long arm' in Gaelic because of his great spear and sling. His animal attributes were the raven and the lynx. Lugh mirrors Hindu Karttikeya, the spiritual warrior, and Roman Mercury, the swift messenger.”

northwest donegal photos, lugh the sun god

In his quiet, stoic way, he guards the valley so one can still walk in peace and enjoy its wonders. As you make your way the marked road, make Time your servant and stop. And listen to the sounds coming either from under the ground…

water stream donegal, donegal photography, columbia hillen photography

...or the ones coming down from the sky.

bird on a branch photo, columbia hillen photography
Lullaby for Lugh

And if you really look, you might even find a bog diamond… Make sure you leave it where you found it, everything in the valley is well accounted for and if you move only a blade of grass, you might awaken Balor’s rage.

bogs of donegal, plants in the bog, columbia hillen photography
Bog diamond

And if you were inspired enough to bring some chocolate or shortbread with you, there is not a better gift you can leave for the fairies, than a small piece of one of these treats, on one of their favorite tree (no wrapping please, they can choke on that).

fairy tree donegal, columbia hillen photography
Fairy tree

That gesture might even convince them to pay extra attention to the wishes you might make on your way back, at the Waterfall of Dreams.

waterfall donegal, donegal photos, columbia hillen photography
Waterfall of dreams

No need to thrown in coins or anything – the waterfall fairies get very annoyed with that.

waterfall donegal, photos of donegal, columbia hillen photography
Listening to water fairies

Just sit down and really listen to their song. They’ll know if you did.


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