Barnesmore Gap in legend

The road northwards from Donegal Town through Barnesmore Gap in the Bluestack mountains is one of the great scenic routes in Ireland.

Bearnas Mor, the "Big Gap" was created by a glacier, which carved a wide, deep valley in the mountain range. This highway has always been of strategic importance as a geographic link between the north and south of the county.

"The Gap", as it is known locally, has associations with St Patrick, who travelled across it on his first missionary journey through Connaught and Ulster. He had gone as far as Convoy, when, according to tradition, the wheel of his chariot broke twice. This event led the saint to conclude that it was a sign that his ministrations were unnecessary, predicting that the illustrious St. Colmcille would be born from the lineage of the ruling family, the Conall Gulban.

The first train through Barnesmore Gap ran on April 25th, 1882. Interestingly, this event, too, has a connection to St Colmcille. Apparently, he prophesied that shortly before the end of the world, Barnesmore Gap would become part of the trail of the Muc Dubh (the infamous black pig of Irish mythology, the sighting of which was a sure sign of imminent disaster).

To the older people gathered on the surrounding hillsides watching the first locomotive rumble through "The Gap" it did indeed bear a likeness to a black pig, and the belief was that the end of the world was not far off.

However, a glass or two in the nearby hostelry, Biddy O'Barnes, would have helped disperse any unquiet in the superstitious. Even today, this famous old-style pub is as much a part of Barnesmore as are the surrounding Bluestacks and is a regularly visited and much photographed tourist attraction.

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