My husband and I just returned from a 10-day trip to Ireland. Some of our stops were based on ghost hunts that we were curious to explore after reading about them in a book by Richard Jones (Haunted Britain and Ireland) At the tourist information center in Dingle Peninsula we were greeted by two very friendly young ladies who spoke Gaelic to each other and English to us. I asked them for directions and info on any of the forts in the area and they named off several well-known sites. When I asked specifically about Dun An Oir, both said they didn't know much about it and that it wasn't one that people asked about or traveled to very often. After revealing some of the information I had read about in my book, one of the girls remarked that I knew more about it than she did, then she called the second girl over claiming that she might be able to fill me in on more details and give me accurate directions. The second girl said, "Oh yes, I know of this place.." and went on to give us directions to a very out of the way, remote area on the cliffs. She went on to say that recently, there have been reports of headless remains washing ashore. Being that the story of the murders of the Spanish Armada by the English soldiers who ambushed and beheaded them happened in 1580, I voiced my skepticism that this could even be possible. The girl went on (quite seriously) that it had been quite a puzzle to the locals also and they summed it up to the chance that the bodies had been held down to the ocean's bottom, perhaps caught on something. Now, being that I am Irish myself and can conjure up Blarney with the best of them, I let her know that her story, although interesting, was quite impossible. She continued to be very serious and also went on to discuss that an excavation was being planned to investigate the possibilities of what was happening on the shoreline. Needless to say, my husband and I, having planned on going to see the memorial stone on this sight either with or without a ghost story attached..... were pretty eager and determined more so than before to find this spot. The memorial was on a twisting and remote road that was very confusing as we were trying to locate it. We finally gave in to the idea that we weren't going to find it...when we decided to ask a local that we happened to pass on the drive (it took nearly an hour to find this spot and only about ten minutes to get back to the tourist site when we were done...so as you can tell the finding of it was confusing!) Once we got the clear directions from the cordial passerby (all of the folks we met in Ireland were incredibly kind, by the way!!) we found that the Fort was right on the mark as to the information we were given. Within minutes we were standing in front of the approximately 10 foot tall memorial--it looked similar to a very tall gravestone as it was taller than it was wide. There were 12 heads with agonized looks upon their faces that had been carved into the stone (they actually stick out in 3-D) to represent the Spanish soldiers. The actual fort appears to be all but gone, but it is clear to see how the soldiers could have been ambushed. The site is set on the inlet high up on the cliff--there would have been nowhere for them to go but to jump to their deaths-if they had feared for their lives. But as history states, they were led to believe by the English, that their surrender was acceptable and that they would be taken peacefully as prisoners. After setting down their arms, they walked toward the English, and they were beheaded and their bodies thrown over the cliff. There is a small write up about it on a podium near the stone. We walked as far as we could along the top of the cliff and it was very windy and the water was whipping up on the shore...if the possibility of bodies floating up were true, this was certainly a place it could've happened. We were able to walk quite a ways, but not down the cliffs. All of that area is fenced off with a 3 ft high fence..built to protect people from falling I'm sure (or perhaps to keep nosey ghost hunters out......) When we drove out to the site the sun was shining and it was relatively nice...but as we walked around the area it got progressively colder, much wetter and windy. The whole atmosphere was so sad, my heart felt such sympathy for these victims. It was an odd sensation, almost like they were there and wanting me to feel something. We stayed about ? hour or better and we in awe of the whole scene. We tried to imagine what it must have been like to be there over 400 years ago. Ireland is an amazing country with so many medieval remains. It is filled with mystery and romance and has to be the friendliest place we have ever been. To wind up this amusing story, we traveled on to Blarney next (where most people expect to have their leg pulled) We met some wonderful people and made a friendship with one family that I know will go and we will continue to stay in touch and visit back and forth etc.. After the time we spent with this particular family, I finally got up the courage to trust that my new friend would not make me feel like a buffoon if I told her of our adventure. Of course she let me know that she felt pretty strongly that we indeed had been given a line of blarney...... as she put it, "In our country, something such as bodies washing ashore would've made national news!" Last week's main stories splashed throughout the country were that of a bus accident that killed 5 people in Dublin and also a high profile court case involving 4 ivy league type college rugby players who beat a rugby player from the rival team (again in Dublin) to death in a fist fight that got out of control. These stories are truly very tragic and I found myself following them each day (and now I'm looking into ways to subscribe to their Irish National News here in the States so that I can keep up on what's happening) And with all sincerity, I mean not to lessen them in any way, but in our country, stories such as these two tragedies rarely make national news, unless it's on a back page somewhere?unfortunately murders and violent crimes are daily happenings in the States... Although it was fun and exciting to think we might "see something..." I have to admit that we got taken by the "blarney"! Just a note to the gals at the tourist center though....I kissed the "Stone" the next day when in Blarney...and I had the "gift of eloquence" some say, even before I puckered up (so much so that my friends and family were kind of hoping for a reverse affect....as you can see didn't happen..) At any rate, we will be back to Dingle.....(maybe to check on how the "excavation" is going...) and we'll stop in to see what's new. We have a story to share with you girls about a certain haunted camp in Upper Michigan that you just have to see! Come on over to America and we'll give you directions! You guys were fabulous..can't wait to get back!
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