Downpatrick Head and Dún Briste on a February Saturday

Sometimes you stumble upon a place and it surprises and delights and takes your breath away.

Last week myself and she who must be obeyed were in Ballina, Mayo for the weekend. A Christmas gift from the kids.

On Saturday we decided we would go for a drive prior to retiring to the hotel bar and watching the Ireland v Scotland rugby match.

I have always been impressed and fascinated and frightened by the power and majesty of the Atlantic Ocean waves smashing the west coast so we headed north to the North Atlantic.

Up through Killala and towards Ballycastle, as I thought Ballycastle was right on the coast.

En route to Ballycastle and perhaps the Céide fields I took a turn down a small, narrow side road and ended up at Downpatrick Head and this was the surprise.

This is a stunning place that I never heard of and on this February Saturday there was only one other couple in the small car park.

It is right on the coast and there is a piece of rock or sea stack called “Dún Briste” which is located about 50 metres off the coast, having broken off in a storm from the island of Ireland in 1393.

The top of Dún Briste (Irish for ‘broken fort’) is flat and measures about 50 metres by 13 metres and contains evidence of people and buildings having lived there when the land broke away from Ireland.

When you come across a place like this, one you have never heard of before, and you see the power of nature, feel the strength of the wind, look down the face of the cliffs and see the gulls sitting there immobile, peer into the blowhole you are made to feel insignificant.

In the last few years I have visited the Acropolis in Athens, the colosseum in Rome, the Berlin Wall and these places are tremendously well known and widely photographed. All fantastic experiences.

Stumbling across Downpatrick Head and Dún Briste on a brisk February Saturday morning preparatory to sinking pints in a hotel bar was a different experience but equally memorable, in my book.

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