The Poisoned Glen

As part of our visit to beautiful Dunlewey Church we went on the hunt for the famous Poisoned Glen, it didn’t disappoint.

The Poisoned Glen responding to the call of beautiful Dunlewey Lough

Now we all know that Ireland is full to overflowing with legends, and needless to say anywhere with a name like ‘The Poisoned Glen’ is going to have a legend attached, I suppose it is also inevitable that there are various accounts as to how it got it’s name.

Two involve the one eyed giant King Balor. The first version of the story is that Balor’s exiled grandson Lughaidh (do the best you can pronouncing that one, I am struggling with the guttural sounds of Gaelic!) met with his grandfather at the opening of the glen to fight, and duly killed him. As he fell Balor’s one eye bled into the glen, poisoning it as it did so. Legend has it that if you look at the mountains behind the bridge you can see the face of the fallen giant..

Look in the middle to the left, and you can see the outline of the giant’s face.

The other account is that Balor had a beautiful daughter who he kept locked away and hidden from mankind (of course he did, misogyny is rife in fairytales!) Despite all his efforts word got out about her beauty and she was duly kidnapped. Balor went after the kidnapper and cut him off at this very bridge killing him and retrieving his daughter. As the kidnapper died under the bridge the glen was forever poisoned.

Harley and RD studying the place of battle,

The less interesting truth is that the people of Dunlewy were inspired to name it An Gleann Neamhe (The Heavenly Glen), but when the English mapped the area they carelessly marked it as ‘An Gleann Neimhe – The Poisoned Glen! And so it’s name was born! As we know, we can always rely on the English!

This place has inspired many, it’s not hard to understand why, and Clannad, who hail from Donegal, included a track titled ‘Poisoned Glen’ on their album ‘Anam’.

For me the best thing was watching Harley pup in the healing waters of the glen, his adventure with them continues, and it is truly heavenly to behold.

I hope you’re all inspired to visit this beautiful place if you can..


Dunlewy Church known as The Irish Taj Mahal


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