We have promised ourselves that this time we will visit places in Ireland. In France money was always so tight we didn’t visit as many places as we would have liked. This time it will be different, and I plan on sharing the fabulous places with you……
So a few weeks ago we kitted up the puppies, made up a little simple picnic of sandwiches and extremely fattening pork pie and Scotch eggs (we’re just about to calm that down now, all the lovely fattening stuff!) and some cokes as beverage, and off we went on a charabang outing in my new little car to Dunlewey Church, nestled at the foot of Mount Errigal.
As you can see from these pictures this stunning, atmospheric place didn’t disappoint, with Dunlewy Lough in the background, and the mountains all around. Classic Ireland with the heather and the bracken, overcast skies and the sun breaking through. It is a truly breathtaking place.
The church was built in the 1800’s by Jane Russell in homage to her love for her late husband James. It is such an atmospheric beautiful place it is known as the Taj Mahal of Ireland.
Born in England the couple married in 1825, and James went on to make his fortune as a hop merchant. They had five daughters and moved to Donegal after purchasing the Dunlewey Estate. Sadly in 1848 James died, and the heartbroken Jane built this beautiful church as a place to lay her husband to rest. He is buried in the vault beneath the floor of the church. I can understand why, she chose such a beautiful spot, a place where he could look out at the lough, hear the Poisoned Glen and be protected by the beautiful Errigal.
The estate was eventually managed by a new landlord, Richard Lewis Crankshaw and when he died in 1929 he was buried in the grounds of the church. But his widow, Nellie, was a Roman Catholic (no surprises there we are in Ireland!) and because the church was not a Catholic church she would not be buried with her husband. So she was buried in the Catholic church that was immediately across the lough from Dunlewey church. To ensure that she was still close with her husband her gravestone was turned towards the old Dunlewey Church, so that they could look across the lough to each other. It’s clear this beautiful place inspires romance just as the moors did for Cathy and Heathcliffe. In fact many couples choose to marry here, despite the weather, despite the lack of roof, because the sadness, and the happiness, and all in between can be felt in this place, like a vibration.
Sadly as more and more people emigrated from Ireland the church was no longer used and fell into disrepair, with the roof being removed in 1955, as a safety measure and the fixtures and fittings distributed to other churches, including the bell which is now in place at the Cashel Church of Ireland near Doe Castle. But in 1987 the local community restored the floor of the church and in 2005 restoration work was undertaken to ensure that this beautiful place was preserved, as it should be.
It was a fabulous day out, and we will be returning, we didn’t even get to walk around the lough, because we then found the Poisoned Glen…..