Here are the caches that we found on Day 1 of our County Challenge mental weekend. A total of 20 finds of 23 attempts in 12 counties (and 2 countries).
GC1CX6A – Pit-Stop Series : N2 – Castleshane
Found Castleshane is a small village on the outskirts of Monaghan town in the north of County Monaghan in Ireland. Castleshane or Caisléan an tSiáin in Irish, translates as the castle (or fort) of the fairies and not the castle of Shane as most believe.
The original house on the site was constructed in 1591. The Elizabethan or Jacobean style house was built in 1836 for the Lucas Scudamores and destroyed by fire in 1920. The former landlord estate is now mainly in ruins and belongs in majority to Coillte, the Irish Forestry body.
The cache we were looking for was a small one beside the main road so unfortunately we didn’t get to see the town nor the ruins of the house.
GC1PFGP – Home of the Penalty Kick
Found Milford (Irish: Áth an Mhuilinn), historically known as Cennadus (Irish: Ceanannus), is a small village in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. It grew up around the linen mill owned by the McCrum family in the 19th century and had a population of 301 in the 2001 Census.
William McCrum who inherited the village from his father also founded Milford Cricket Club and Milford Football Club for the benefit of his workers. His lasting legacy was the invention of the penalty kick which was adopted by the Irish Football Association at its 1889 meeting on McCrum’s proposal and introduced throughout football in 1890.
Until recent years the village of Milford consisted of three streets of terraced houses but in modern times several new housing estates have been built. In the summer of 2005 another estate was built on one of a number of fields which is locally believed to have been the site of the original football pitch where Mr McCrum had some of his workforce practice the original penalty kicks. At the centre of the development is a memorial and information boards. And a nano-sized cache. A couple of young children seemed quite interested as we got the cache but soon got bored and ran off to play.
GC25Y1K – Callan Bridge’s 9
Found The tiny town of Milford (Irish: Áth an Mhuilinn) in County Armagh, Northern Ireland centered around a Linen Mill and a Ford – and this is the bridge over the river. Not much to say that wasn’t said in the previous cache description, a quick find.
GC1TDK4 – Access 3 The Moy
Found This cache is placed at Access 3 of the River Blackwater Trail. The Blackwater is 20 km in length and has nine access points. It runs through both counties Armagh and Tyrone before reaching Lough Neagh.
Moy (Mostly known to the locals as “The Moy”, from the Irish an Maigh, meaning ‘the plain’) was laid out in the 1760s for James Caulfield, 1st Earl of Charlemont (1728-1799) – opposite Charlemont Fort across the Blackwater. The formal rectangular market place, with lawns and horse-chestnut trees, was inspired by the square at Bosco Marengo in Lombardy, admired by the young earl during his grand tour of Europe. The houses lining the village square are mostly mid-18th century, though all four churches (Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist) are later. A local riding school is the last vestige of the days of the great Moy horse fair, held once a month and lasting a whole week.
The cache here was in a spot where we were able to park quite readily. It was a tricky hide but still found quickly.
GC24K01 – Weighed Down
Found Cookstown, known before the Plantation of Ulster as Corchrichy (Irish: an Chorr Chríochach), is a town in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is the fourth largest town in the county and had a population of nearly 11,000 people in the 2001 Census. It was founded around 1620 when the townlands in the area were leased by an English ecclesiastical lawyer, Dr Alan Cooke, from the Archbishop of Armagh, who had been granted the lands after the Flight of the Earls. It was one of the main centres of the linen industry West of the River Bann, and until 1956, the processes of flax spinning, weaving, bleaching and beetling were carried out in the town.
Cookstown’s famous main street (laid out from c1735–c1800), is 1.25 miles (2.01 km) long and 135 feet (41.15 m) wide, one of the longest, and widest in Ireland and hosts an open air market each Saturday which can make it difficult to drive down it, as we found out.
The cache was easy to find here and we used the opportunity to pick up a much needed coffee.
GC1AX4V – The Very Confused Telephone
Found Draperstown is a village in the Sperrin Mountains of County Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland built in 1812. It was named by the London Drapers’ Company who had an interest in the area after the Plantation of Ulster, but is commonly referred to by locals as Ballinascreen which is also the name of the parish (known in Irish as either Baile na Scríne or Baile na Croise).
In the 1840s the town received notoriety as a place with a severe, albeit unusual drug problem. This has been described in detail by Dr Nagle who made a report on licit and illicit drugs on behalf of the Consumer Union in the mid nineteenth century where he stated: “About 1840 a Catholic priest, Father Matthew, led a great temperance crusade through England, Scotland, and Ireland. It was one of the most successful that ever occurred; thousands took the pledge. One of them was an alcoholic physician named Kelly who practiced in Draperstown, in the north of Ireland. Aghast at the pleasure he had given up, but not wishing to break his pledge, [Dr. Kelly] cast about for a substitute. He had prescribed ether by mouth on occasion and knew of its pleasant effects. After a few personal experiments he imparted the knowledge to his friends and patients who had also taken the pledge. Ether sniffing became endemic in Draperstown. Fifteen years later, when the British government placed a stiff tax on alcoholic beverages and when the constabulary clamped down on home distilled Irish whiskey, Kelly’s discovery was recalled and exploited to the hilt. Ether, which was not subject to the tax, was distilled in London and shipped to Draperstown and other places in Northern Ireland by the ton. Ether was preferred in some ways, and especially among the poor, to the now-expensive whiskey. The drink was quick and cheap, and could be achieved several times a day without hangover. If arrested for drunkenness, the offender would be sober by the time the police station was reached.”
A surgeon visiting Draperstown in 1878 remarked that: “The main street smelled like his surgery, where ether was used as an anesthetic. Old ether topers, he added, could finish off a three-ounce wineglassful at a single swig, without even water for a chaser. Everyone who discussed this particular phenomenon admitted that there appeared to be less chronic damage than with alcohol. But hazards were also noted: chronic gastritis, deaths from overdosage, and fatal burns from smoking while drinking–– for ether is extremely flammable.”
While the rest of the team located the cache inside this phone box, I asked a local sitting in the car next to us for directions to Derry – it kept him busy as he described in the wonderful Irish fashion for detailed directions just where we had to go – straight ahead at the round about, then turn left at the next road and keep going past the next bridge then turn again and on to Derry. He also confirmed that yes we were in the County we needed, which meant we could from here move on to the next one.
GC21JA6 – Goles Stone Row
Not Found Goles Stone Row, Cranagh, in the Glenelly Valley is composed of eleven individual upright stones arranged in a straight-line 16 metres long. It was built some 3000 to 4000 years ago in the early Brinze Age and is thought to be associated with rituals to observe the rising moon.
It’s an amazing place, just nestled between a house and the accompanying fields full of bleating sheep. This row of stones had a magical feel to it. Unfortunately the long grass has been recently cleared which also cleared away the cache site leaving the cache nowhere to be found.
GC21J5E – Just an Old Bridge
FoundLots of nettles on this little bridge over a picturesque stream in the Glenelly Valley which features salmon amongst other varieties of fish. The road here is well away from the main road, however we still seemed to attract a fair amount of traffic. A good sized cache makes the search worthwhile.
GC742F – Hidden Gold
Found A visitors centre, park seating and playground make this a great place to stop when traveling through the Glenelly Valley, which is just what we did. We also picked up a cache to add to our find log collection.
GC21J9A – Dermot and Grania’s Bed – Glenroan Portal Tomb
FoundThis tomb dates between 3000 and 2500BC and is one of the many prehistoric monuments in the Glenelly Valley and wider Sperrin region. A single-chambered megalithic tomb with a dramatic capstone which rests in a fallen position across two leaning entrance or portal stones. This site is a scheduled Historic Monument right next to a field. In fact, you’re better off going into the field in order to see it as the view from the path behind it is covered with bushes. The cache was located under one of the stones, not ideal and to be honest I’d prefer to see it moved to perhaps the information sign nearby.
GC1MTGK – HEART Series #06 – Rivers & Castles
Found For Newtonstewart, the HEART cross border programme commissioned leading Irish sculptor Denis O’Connor and Bernie Rutter of Sculpture Works. Denis and Bernie focused on the historical fabric of the town.
The artwork makes reference to the historical importance of the town’s castles – both Harry Avery’s castle and Turlough O’Neill’s castle, along with the architectural importance of the ‘Old Bridge’ with its six arch structure. Reference is also made to the physical and geographical formation of the town’s landscape, directed by the town’s rivers – Mourne Strule and Owenkillew.
GC1MYCQ – HEART Series #05 – Starfields
Found On 29th April 1844, a shower of meteors fell at Killeter near Castlederg. The phenomenon was witnessed by many people, and soon the story of the falling stars spread across the land. Now, 164 years later, renowned north-west artist Locky Morris has transformed the unusual tale into a landmark work of public art for Castlederg, incorporating the four local schools – two primary and two secondary.
“Starfields” commemorates the meteoric shower in the Derg Valley in 1844, described as “an event of unique geographical and scientific significance”. The four part sculpture has been installed on one wall outside each of the four schools in the town. The pieces are made in bright stainless steel and stainless steel rope using the Astroid shape as the fundamental outline shape
Astroid derives from the Greek name for star, and curiously, if an Astroid shape is placed over a map of Castlederg – in the north, south, east and west axis – it points almost to the positions of the four schools on the perimeter around the town – two primary and two secondary. In a sense, the schools almost make an alignment with the points on the star.
GC11962 – Boa Peep
FoundBoa Island is named after Badhbh, sometimes spelled, Badb, the Celtic goddess of war. Badhbh sometimes took the form of a Carrion Crow, most notably on the shoulder of the warrior, Cúchulainn, after he died in battle. At other times she is depicted as a wolf.
Two unrelated anthropomorphic carved stone statues called the Boa Island figure and the Lustymore Island figure are now found together in Caldragh graveyard on Boa Island. Caldragh graveyard dates from the Irish early Christian period (400–800 AD). Both of the figures were badly damaged when they were first found. They have been placed beside each other on unrelated pillars in the graveyard which is the original location of the Boa figure.
The larger of the figures is the Boa Island bilateral figure. It is regarded as one of the most enigmatic and remarkable stone figures in Ireland. It is called a Janus-figure because it has two faces, reminding some of the Roman two-headed deity Janus, however, it is not a representation of Janus and may well represent a Celtic deity.
The Lustymore Idol was discovered in an early Christian graveyard on Lustymore Island, located due south of Boa Island in Lower Lough Erne. It was brought to the Caldragh graveyard on Boa Island in 1939. It is placed with its back to the indigenous bilateral figure. Lacking details of the facial features, it is less impressive visually. It is, however, thought to be older than the bilateral ‘Janus’ figure – which is less worn than the Lustymore figure. Because of the positioning of its hands it may be a Sheela na Gig, a pagan female figure.
The cache itself was well away from the figures which have a canopy covering them to protect them from rain.
GC1M61Z – HEART Series #12 – Morning Star
Not FoundThis artwork for Ballyshannon makes reference to the identity of the Mall Quay and Ballyshannon’s shipping heritage. The ancient title of the River Erne – ‘Morning Star’ – is listed in the Annals of the Four Masters, the first settlers in Ireland on Inis Saimer. It also makes reference to the demise of the Abbey Assaroe and the old name ‘Port na Morrav’, which means Port of the Dead. You can imagine the silence of the solemn funeral procession being broken by the sound of the abbey bell.
GCTAGR – Ballyshannon
Not FoundThe town of Ballyshannon is reputed to be the oldest in Ireland.
The Port of Ballyshannon , in its heyday, had up to 40 ships docking each month. The cargoes were usually timber and coal and the ships then left with exports of salted beef and pork, mainly for the Royal Navy. There is now no sign of its glorious past as a trading port and major salmon fishery. Abbey Mill Bridge, not far from the cache site, is another structure which carries the name of the “the oldest in Ireland”.
Inish Saimer Island-is reputedly the landing place of the Partholanians, the first colonist of Ireland around 2700 B.C. Innis Saimer was occupied as an island citadel by the ancient Donegal chieftains, O’Muldorry, O’Donnell and O’Gallagher. After the defeat of a Connaught Irish army at Belleek in 1689, about 150 were captured when they fled to the island for safety.
The area where the GPS brought us had suffered a recent fire. While we could not find the cache itself, we did find what looks like it could once have been the cache. Kevin suggested we sign the remains but we decided to move on. Is that a find??
GC251MV – Fairy Bridges
FoundThis are of Donegal is often said to have some of the best surf beaches in Europe. Indeed there were quite a few out braving the rain and cold to catch a few waves. I loved the grass covered sand dunes and the stretch of pristine sandy beach – that’s what a beach should look like!
The Fairy Bridges themselves have been carved out of the rock by the waves. You’d need to be careful with young kids here!
GC1FX5Z – The Dobhar-chú
The Dobhar-chú is a creature of Irish folklore and a cryptid. Dobhar-chú is roughly translated into “water hound.” It resembles both a dog and an otter though sometimes is described as a half dog, half fish. It lives in water and has fur with protective properties.
Many sightings have been documented down through the years. Most recently in 2003 Irish Artist Sean Corcoran and his wife claim to have witnessed a Dobhar-Chú on Omey Island in Connemara, County Galway.
The Kinlough Stone is said to be the headstone of a grave of a woman killed by the Dobhar-chú in the 1600’s and shows an old drawing of the creature. Her husband heard her scream as she was washing clothes down at the Glenade Lough and came to her aid. When he got there she was already dead, with the Dobhar-chú upon her bloody and mutilated body. The man killed the Dobhar-chú, stabbing it in the heart. As it died, it made a whistling noise, and its mate arose from the lough. Its mate chased the man but he killed it as well.
We chased and caught the cache at this fascinating spot after a long and very rough drive down some narrow country roads.
GCKE5Q – Order in the Court
Found Dating from the 3rd millennium, the Creevykeel Court Cairn was one of the first sites of its kind to be excavated in Ireland. The court cairn is called such because, in addition to several interior structures, a large court yard forms the entrance and central passage. Within the cairn (mound of stones) itself are a wedge-shaped tomb, a side chamber called a cist (common in the Stone Age), and even an Iron Age smelting pot-for use by blacksmiths. An Iron Age smithy pot in a Stone Age monument is quite unusual for a megalithic structure.
The shapes of the pillar stones are unique, as well. Many archaeologists refer to the stones and male and female, the males being the cylindrical pillars; the females being the broader, smoother stones having a diamond like shape.
Cache quickly found, it’s not within the Cairn itself. One of those places that should be in the guidebooks but isn’t.
GC10P71 – The Ridgepool
Found Easily accessed by a short path that leads down to the Moy fisheries. This is justifiably one of the most famous angling venues in the world, where catches of over 5,000 salmon have been recorded in a single season. Its entire length, of just over 1.5 miles is located along the Moy River within the Ballina Town boundaries.
GCXH9P – Pop-in for Coffee
Found I found this particular cache a couple of years ago with cmb-50 so couldn’t log this one today. We arrived about 11pm so decided not to disturb anyone. Cache is always well stocked with some impressive goodies and worth a stop.
GC280CT – Inny Dream Will Do!
FoundOne of the few caches in Longford, this oen is situated in the town of Ballymahon. Ballymahon derives its name from Gaelic Baile Mathuna Town of Mahon. A quick scrabble around for this cache in the dark yielded the most unusual of today’s animal sightings – a frog!
GC280A7 – 1954 – Marian Year
FoundMarian years are decided on and declared exclusively by the Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1953, with the encyclical Fulgens Corona, Pope Pius ordered a Marian year for 1954, the first in Church history. The year was filled with Marian initiatives, in the areas of mariology, cultural events, and charity and social gatherings. In Ireland, many shrines and grottos were built and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Roadside shrines are quite common in Ireland – certainly more common than in Australia. They provide some useful cache hides!
GC2ATVP – They Might Be Giants
First to Find Tullamore (from Irish: Tulach Mhór meaning “great mound”) is a town in County Offaly, in the midlands of Ireland. It is probably best known for being the home of Tullamore Dew, an Irish whiskey previously distilled by Tullamore Distillery – that can be traced back to 1829. The distillery closed in the 1950s but its traces are still visible in the town.
In October 2009 the eagerly awaited N52 Tullamore bypass was opened. Standing at the northern end of the bypass are four prominent 25 foot steel figurines created by artist Maurice Harron. Each figurine holds a symbol of the world of learning and sanctity that are representative of the monastic settlements of Durrow and Clonmacnoise. One holds a book, one holds a chalice, one a staff and one throws aloft a flock of birds or souls.
We arrived at 1:30am, it was pitch black but head torches enabled us to claim this as a first to find – the perfect end to the first day!