• now this alarmed the DOG a wee bit - DannyM8
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Grey Man's Path

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Complete change of pace today from urban environments. This is the Grey Man's Path at Fair Head, Ballycastle, Co. Antrim and that's a dog with nerves of steel...

Would welcome a location for this one, and any information on the rock formation - factual, mythical, outright speculation...

P.S. If any of you have a little time on your hands when you're finished with this one, you might like to help us out by revisiting this W.D. Hogan shot, uploaded on this day last July. We're not as happy about our Hogan dates as we used to be, because you all helped blow some of them out of the water (if you'll pardon the military pun)...

Niall McAuley first off the bat as usual with location.

Delightfully spooky story in below from mogey; and a pretty comprehensive Wikipedia description of Fair Head in from blackpoolbeach...

Date: 1900-1940

NLI Ref.: EAS_0313

oi io, DannyM8, aquietlife~M, and 74 other people added this photo to their favorites.

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  1. Vab2009 21 months ago | reply

    Lol I have just got back to this and found the same thing. It seems the website is no longer available - www.bbc.co.uk/blueprint/offthebeatentrack/
    But there is a man who may know a way to get at it - I will ask!

  2. Seuss. 21 months ago | reply

    As discussed in the Project Gutenberg EBook of Ulster Folklore

    The following story was related to me on the spot: A Scotch giant came over to fight Finn McCoul, but was conquered and slain. To celebrate this victory Finn invited the Grey Man of the Path to a feast; but as hares and rabbits would have been too small to furnish a repast for this giant, Finn took his dog and went out to hunt red deer. They were unsuccessful, and in anger he slew his dog Brown,[48] which afterwards caused him much sorrow.

    In the Grey Man of the Path we have, doubtless, a purely mythical character, an impersonation of the mists which gather round Benmore

    . . .

    The Grey Man's Path is a fissure on the face of Benmore or Fair Head, by which a good climber can ascend the cliff. It has been suggested that this Grey Man is one of the old gods, possibly Manannan, the Irish sea-god. In the Ulster Journal of Archæology for 1858, vol. vi., p. 358, there is an account given of the Grey Man appearing near the mouth of the Bush River to two youths, who believed they would have seen his cloven foot had he not been standing in the water. They had at first mistaken the apparition for an ordinary man.

    Also quite a few other photos over the years here on Flickr

  3. National Library of Ireland on The Commons 21 months ago | reply

    Interesting that folk tales abound: "The whole area is steeped in myth and legend, including The Grey Man’s Path, the Grey Man being a spectre that is supposed to be seen when the mist rolls in from the sea and he takes human form up this gully."

    And wondering why a man dressed more or less like a Ninja crossed the rock so gingerly? Not that I'd have been any better! :)

  4. National Library of Ireland on The Commons 21 months ago | reply

    Great link, thank you! Did those Scottish giants never learn not to take on Fionn Mac Cumhaill? And very happy to see this photo as part of the Flickr Grey Man's Path repertoire...

  5. mogey 21 months ago | reply

    It was on the northantrim.com site

  6. mogey 21 months ago | reply

    thats the one

  7. Cuddly Nutter 21 months ago | reply

    Dilisk it may be down south but Norn Iron its Dulse....

  8. mdx 21 months ago | reply

    Fantastic and a great creepy story too

  9. Scadán Dearg 21 months ago | reply

    It has to be dried preferably in sunshine (if you can get it). My grand mother used to dry dillusk on a flat concrete roof. The hard crusty bits are discarded and the dillusk was then stored for use throughout the winter in the hot press in a pillow case.

    Yellow man?? if that is some form of a desert the sea weed you are thinking about is Carraigín or carrageen moss. when dried and blanched it looks like branch coral. When disolved in hot milk the resultant mixture sets into a creamy jelly like desert when flavoured!

  10. Scadán Dearg 21 months ago | reply

    That stance is only take by a sheepdog in the presence of sheep or any other animal (prey) they are stalking, unless the said dog is in fear of his life.

  11. Scadán Dearg 21 months ago | reply

    Dhu could be a shortehen version of dubh (black). Is this the black or dark lake?

  12. National Library of Ireland on The Commons 21 months ago | reply

    Getting my sweet things confused. This is what Yellow Man is - a sort of honeycomb...

  13. swordscookie 21 months ago | reply

    Sorry, I assumed that you knew what Yellow Man was and did not elaborate having described the Dulse/Dillisk. It is a sweet honecomb toffee sold in blocks or sheets and guaranteed to rot the teeth in no time flat. It quickly melts down in the mouth to a sweet sticky consistency and is quite addictive.

  14. sam2cents 20 months ago | reply

    Incredible shot, and brave dog.

  15. f.macfhearaigh 8 months ago | reply

    Hall (1843: 145-147) Ireland - Its Scenery & Character Vol III. You can get the pdf from Google.

    “Fhir Leith, or The Grey Man’s Path (a fissure in the precipice), viewed either from land or sea, is never to be forgotten; it seems as though some supernatural power, determined to hew for itself a pathway through the wonderful formations that tower along the coast, so that it might visit or summon the spirits of the deep without treading a road made by mortal hands, had willed the fearful chasm that divides the rocky promontory in two…From the cragsmen and boatmen of this wild coast you hear no tales of Faery, no hints of the gentle legends and superstitions collected in the South, or in the inland districts of the North; not that they are a whit less superstitious, but their superstition is, as the superstition of the Sea Kings, of a bold and peculiar character; their ghosts come from out the deep before or after the rising of the moon, and climb, or rather stalk up the rocks, and, seated upon those mysterious pillars, converse together; so that in the fishermen’s huts, they say ‘it thunders;’ even mermaids are deemed too trifling in their habits and manners for this stupendous scenery, where spirits of the old gigantic world congregate, and where the ‘Grey Man’ of the North Sea stalks forth, silently and alone, up his appropriate path, to witness some mighty convulsion of nature.

    The cragsmen are chary of their legends; they think the being of another world who made the basaltic columns and masses of crude rock their toys, are not only far too mighty to be trifled with, but to be spoken of; and they whisper of them as if some calamity would be sure to follow if they spoke of them above their breath.

    'As sure as there's a sun in heaven!' muttered one of the elders - a keen vigilant-looking person - and he pointed to the fearful chasm with his staff; 'that path was hewn in one night.
    'It was a brave night work,' we observed.
    'Ay, for the like of us; but to the Grey Man it was nothing.'
    'And who is the Grey Man, my friend?'
    'Whisht!-hoo!-there's none living that can tell that; only let any one in their senses look at the whole County of Antrim, from first to last, and say how it comes to be so different from every other part of Ireland, that's all. Fine palaces they made for themselves, them great Say Kings, and great coorts they had, giants of the earth! What else could tare up and destroy, build up and pull down!'

    Still, wonderful as it all was, the chasm of the ‘Grey Man’s Path’ most riveted our attention, looking upwards from our boat, which rose on every billow. ‘And did you never see the ‘Grey Man?’’ we inquired of one of the boatmen, who was more eloquent than our cragsman

    ‘God forbid! It’s not that sort I’d be liking to see.’
    ‘What, did you never even see his shadow?’
    ‘No, thank God! the likes of him only comes to the place for trouble. I heard say, before the great ship was wrecked of Port na Spania, he was known to have decoyed the vessel in, and that when he ‘ticed it on to the rocks he floated away to his own berth up there, and clapt his hands, and the strength of the echo of the clap pitched yon rock into the sea from the head-land, as you would pitch a marble.
    ‘And was he never seen since?
    ‘It was a year, or maybe two, before ‘the troubles’ that my father, dodging about in his boat, thinking it best to run into Ballycastle, for it was wintertime, saw, betwixt himself and the setting sun, a wreath of smoke passing over the waters; and, as there were no steamers in those times, smoke was an unnatural thing on the sea; and he rested on his oars, this way, and it rose and fell with the billows – a pillar of smoke; but, as it drew nearer the coast, it grew into the shape of a giant, folded in its cloak; he could see the plaits of the cloak falling from the head to the feet plainly as he treaded the waters, and the apparition became more palpable when it ascended the cliffs; it assumed, as it were, a solidity of aspect and form, nor did it pause until when nearly beneath where the fallen pillar rests. Above the path it made a pause, and turning around, spread its arms forward, as if imploring either a blessing or a curse! Too well,’ continued the boatman, ‘was it proved that the prayer was for destruction; that very night, and, as I said, it was about two years before the ruction of ’98, and there are many who remember it still, that very night, on the east side of Fairhead, the colliers, who had not very long quitted their work there, for the night, were terrified by what they at first imagined to be loud claps of thunder, followed by such clouds of dust, and such raging and foaming of the sea, and such broad flashes of lightning, that they imagined the end of the world was come. Clap after clap, answered by the raging billows and the mad, mad lightning; they crowded together in their cottages, and fell on their knees in prayer – those who had never prayed before prayed then, though indeed there were but few of that sort among them. In the morning the effects of the Grey Man’s curse were sufficiently plain; rocks had been detached that no earthly power could move, and they had crushed in the collieries, so that more than a thousand tons of coals were buried past recovery. Columns were hurled into the sea, which had stood erect in the sight of heaven since the world was a world. Old men trembled, and while the women asked them what it meant, they looked to see the entire of Fairhead bound into the ocean. It is there still for all that, though who know what might happen if the ‘Grey Man’ paid it for another visit?’”

  16. f.macfhearaigh 8 months ago | reply

    No problem NLI! Always good to see these old gems.

    Another bit of background from local historian Cahal Dallat (The Road to the Glens (1990))

    "Ptolemy, the second century geographer, mentions it under the name Robogdunum - from the Gaelic Riabach meaning the Grey Man and from the Latin Dunum meaning a fort, Seen from the shore below the opening with the column across it looks like the entrance to a massive fort, hence the name - Robogdunum. The Grey Man was a storm-god in Norse mythology."

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