Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Old Graveyard & Church Ruins Outside Clogherhead

Last weekend my parents and I took a drive across the border into County Louth. We drove through the parish of Togher, which lies on the coast betwixt Dundalk and Drogheda, and ended up in the tiny fishing village of Clogherhead, which borders Togher. When driving back from Clogherhead we happened upon the ruins of an abandoned church along a small dirt road. This being Ireland, the countryside is laced with little winding lanes – some said to be haunted, naturally - and trails that date back to famine times, and many boast ruins of churches, abbeys and chapels. Despite trying to find out more information about the place online, research proved fruitless and I’ve been unable to ascertain the name of the church and the graveyard that surrounds it. As such, I’ve also been unable to find out if there are any interesting (i.e. spooky) stories connected to the history of the place, but I did uncover a couple of creepy stories regarding the nearby fishing village of Clogherhead.

Owing to the colour of marine life there, part of the headland has been dubbed Red Man’s Cave. Sometimes it is also known as Dead Man’s Cave… During Oliver Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland in 1649-50, British soldiers were said to have put to death a number of Catholic priests hiding in the cave on the coast at Clogherhead; the name Red Man’s Cave is said to have derived from the sight of the slain priests’ blood on the walls within the cave. Apparently, until very recent times – the cave is now inaccessible from the land - the inside of it was painted red to commemorate the event.

A much more fantastical tale associated with the area is that of the ghastly Captain Redman. Local lore has it that Redman helmed a small ship to Ireland from Spain. The journey was plagued by ill luck, odd occurrences and, as most of the crew succumbed to a deadly bout of scurvy, death. By the time the ship reached the coast of Ireland, only the Captain and six crew members were left alive. Taking shelter from stormy weather along the coast at Clogherhead, the remaining crew members and Captain Redman came ashore at the cave to seek sanctuary. With no sign of the storms abating, the men were forced to camp at the cave for several nights. It is said that each night, one of the crew died in mysterious circumstances, and eventually, the two remaining men came to the conclusion that Captain Redman must be responsible. They ambushed him and chopped off his head, sticking it on a spike at the mouth of the gaping cave entrance. Legend has it that anyone who ventures to the cave at night, might catch a glimpse of the headless spectre of Captain Redman in search of his head; which has been heard whistling at the mouth of the cave…













5 comments:

JP Mulvanetti said...

Some lovely photos, especially the ones with the daisies and the crumbling gravestones.

James Gracey said...

Thanks very much JP. Love your profile pic, by the way. PROFONDO ROSSO!!

JP Mulvanetti said...

Thanks, it was a highlight of a trip to Rome a few years back for me!

Chris Brady said...

Great photos! I live close to clogherhead and I'm intrigued by the cave which I never knew anything about,is it accessible in any way at all?

James Gracey said...

Thanks Chris. Alas, any info I found online regarding the cave, and indeed the creepy stories surrounding it, were very vague. I tried to find some images too, but came up with zilch. I don't suppose you can help identify the church ruins and graveyard?? My searches online proved pretty futile!

Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting.