Lesser Spotted Journeys returns to UTV on Monday 6th November at 8pm with a visit to the beautiful and historic town of Killala, Co, Mayo.
In this episode Joe Mahon explores the extraordinary seascape of Killala Bay and wanders the beaches and headlands of its dramatic coastline, a place which seems to have its own unique relationship with the elements. As Joe says in the programme, “There’s sunlight, there’s moonlight, there’s starlight … and then there’s Mayo light!”
Killala, of course, is synonymous with the Rising of the United Irishmen and the landing of French General Humbert’s expeditionary force at Kilcummin Harbour on 22nd August 1798, “on the eve of a bright harvest day”. When Lesser Spotted Journeys landed at the same place earlier this year, the weather was equally fine and Joe found himself in the company of Killala based author/historian, Steve Dunford, who is about to receive a major award from the French government for his contribution to Irish-French relations by keeping alive the memory of this historic connection between the two countries.
“I was fortunate to fall in with “General” Steve Dunford,” says Joe, “and I’m nearly convinced that Steve was there when Humbert first set foot on Irish soil, such is his intimate knowledge of every aspect of the event. I suppose he has to possess that knowledge in order to run the hugely popular re-enactments that have become such a big tourist attraction in County Mayo. He had the two of us dressed up in the uniforms of the day and firing antique flintlock weapons across Lackan Bay at phantom enemies. Great fun but also very educational!”
Joe also goes on a fishing trip on the waters of Killala Bay in the company of expert forager Denis Quinn of Wild Atlantic Cultural Tours and yes – they did land a bucket-full of mackerel! For a self-confessed “blow-in” Denis turned out to be remarkably well-informed about his adopted home.
Joe rounds up his trip to Killala with a visit to traditional blacksmith Ray Munnelly, a man who can make anything you’d like as long as it can be made out of iron! Ray relates the story of how he had to make some 3,000 iron nails for the refurbishment of the cathedral in Ballina – all of them individually crafted by hand. Oh, and he also made Joe a personalised bottle-opener while they talked!
Lesser Spotted Journeys featuring Killala airs this Monday. 6th November at 8pm on UTV – don’t miss it!