A Tall Woman’s Love

“The Long Woman’s Grave or “The Cairn of Cauthleen” is the grave of a Spanish noble woman who married Lorcan O’Hanlon, the youngest son of the “Cean” or Chieftain of Omeath. On the death of the Cean he ordered that his lands be divided between his two sons, Conn óg and Lorcan. However Conn óg tricked his brother Lorcan by bringing him up to the Lug or hollow in the mountains at Aenagh, telling him that he would give him the land” as far as he could see”. The mist and the bleakness of the hollow was Loracan’s only legacy. However Lorcan owned a ship and begun trading in the East, making his fortune and becoming prosperous. On one of his voyages to Cadiz, Spain he bravely saved the lives of a Spanish nobleman and his daughter. Lorcan was enchanted by Cauthleen, a descendent of the great O’ Donnells’ of Ulster and fell in love with her. The pair made a handsome couple; she was 7ft tall, only three inches smaller than Lorcan. Cauthleen was already engaged to be married but was wooed by Lorcan’s professions of love and the promises of the good life that they would have back in Omeath. The pair eloped when the couple arrived in Carlingford Lough the locals were enchanted by this tall beauty adorned with jewels. The couple set along the mountain path until they came to the Lug or Hollow in the rocks. Lorcan bade his bride to stand in the centre and look around as far as she could see as he “Was Lord of all she could survey”. Cauthleen looked around, so great was her disappointment and the realisation of what she had left behind in Spain, she fell to the ground and died. Lorcan was horrified that his duplicity had caused his bride to die and flung himself into the murky waters of the marsh at the crossroads. His body was never recovered. The locals found the long womans’ body, and dug a grave for Cauthleen in the “Lug Bhan Fada” (Long woman’s hollow) where she lay. Each person laid a stone on the grave to raise her burial cairn and here she sleeps today in the hollow of her disappointment and unfilled promises.”

This is the story I heard of when I was introduced to a beautiful mountain area near to Carlingford. I was one day out with a long time friend visiting in the north of Ireland a little wonderful town. It is one of the most beautiful places in Ireland, so I was told. And I can confirm.

But outside in the nearby mountains there is an incomparable nature as well. The soft hilly mountains are grown with heather, that wonderful pink flower bush that grows in many places like this.

And there was a special place, called the Grave of the Long Lady. This tall Spanish lady impressed the (I guess must shorter) Irish people when she came as wife back to her husbands home place. Unfortunately she did what most people still do today: they expect something. And are disappointed when they don’t get the expected. That’s what happened to the tall Spanish woman when she saw the whole land of his husband. She expected to see what I saw – until the horizon. But she came here on a day full of mist and so she could see barely more than the hill itself. Her disappointment cost her life – most of the people today will get only angry and claim for refund.

I don’t think that the woman was tall as the grave long, but the place is amazing and the story heartbreaking. So I had a nice romantic story in an amazing surrounding out of Carlingford. Who knows the truth of this story? Please tell me though…

Carlingford, Ireland:

For further information:
Carlingford and Mourne

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Magical Paintings with a Mysterious Meaning

During my US stay there was my biggest wish to go to Santa Barbara as a very private reason. After what I wanted to do here we had enough time to do some sight-seeing I haven’t done previously. Though I have never been to the Santa Ynes Mountains we had a day trip to the San Marcos Pass and into the mountains to visit a few places. One was the painted cave of the Chumash people.

Chumash were the largest tribe living in the Californian area and the today Santa Barbara was there main city then called Syukhtun. They lived here for millennia before the contact to white people and the change of life for ever.

From the originally 10-15.000 people today there are again around 5.000 Chumash. They still have their own language alive but spoken only by a few speakers..

The painted cave is situated about three miles south the San Marcos Pass. From Santa Barbara you can take the Highway 154 where you will find in a right turn Pained Cave Rd. There is a little further a village with the same name as well.

The cave is on the left, parking is nearly impossible, there is a space for one or two cars max a little further. The area is called Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park.

There are a few steps up to the cave which is protected by an iron gate. The cave is a smooth and irregular sandstone opening with mainly two larger paintings to see from the gate. Colors are red white and black and seem to be from different periods.

The meaning of the paintings are unknown but speculated that they are depicting the Chumash cosmology. They are from the 16th century. It is believed that the cave was visited only seasonally. The cave is known also with the Chumash name Alaxuluxen.

One of the interpretations of the colorful paintings is that they represent tomols taking the souls to Shimilaqsha, the after world. But it could be as well represent celestial things like moon, sun and stars position. Though it could depicting a total sun eclipse that occurred in that period.

As the nature is slowly ‘eating’ the soft sandstone there was done a 3 D documentation of the site in order to preserve the beauty in memory and to study it even not being physically there.

Luckily I have a great camera with super delicate lens so I could take bright and clear shots through the gate. And I think the paintings are amazing! A ‘must see’ when in the Santa Barbara area…

Chumash Painted Cave, Santa Barbara, California/USA:

For further information:
Chumash Painted Cave

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Like in a Movie of the Fifties – Ramona Classic Car Show

My days in San Diego are so full of excitement and diversity, so different to my European life, that it was no surprise that my friend had another great afternoon planned for me. We would go in a little town in the San Diego hinterland to see a classic car show. O my….!

The driving to the place called Ramona was already exciting for me as the nature here is so different in one way and so similar to southern Italy in another. I really enjoy to see all these places and of course it seems all the time like in a movie when we pass into towns. They look so much like… on the big screen. And when I hear the sound of the police cars then all is perfectly cinema to me.

The classic car show would be more than just a view of antique cars but a real driving along the road. Friends of his have old classic cars and we would go with them in one Franklin of 1923. Think I have seen such cars only in movies, never in reality. Imagine to sit in.. all original.

We were going up and down the main road of the town, right and left on the road lined with people watching and enjoying the old cars passing. It was so much fun as old and new cars were mixing, especially when seeing Porsche or similar behind a Chevrolet from the fifties or so.

We had a lot of fun going in such a wonderful car. I am so grateful for this wonderful experience and opportunity I had.

We were at least half an hour on the road, going up and down, watching the other cars and being watched a lot as well of course. My impression is, that here in the US are a lot of people having the passion for classic cars and having even a few. Very different to Europe where only rich people may have one or even e few of them. They have always a special atmosphere. I enjoyed this day a lot!

Ramona, California/USA:

For further information:
Ramona events and attractions

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In Newcastle in Northern Ireland for a Weekend

Newcastle.. that was my great weekend in Northern Ireland. I was actually at home of a very great friend and she wanted to treat me in a Spa Hotel. The decision was the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa Hotel.

So we left in the late morning of a Friday to drive not more than two hours up from Navan in County Meath in Ireland to Newcastle in County Down in Northern Ireland. I enjoyed the way up though it was a good part on the motorway. To find Newcastle and the hotel was again very easy.

The hotel is situated straight at the shore of the sea, long beaches running up and down, in the back the Mourne Mountains green and soft, the hotel itself very oldstyle looking.

It was initially built in 1896-98 as an railway as used as railway-end-of-line luxury holiday destination. At those times it was one of the finest hotels in the country. And even nearly self-sufficient. 120 bedrooms, already then with own heating systems, Chippendale furniture, Persian carpets, a reading room, hairdresser, billiard room drawing room and cafeteria, weekly dances and more.

In 1972 it was bought together with other five railway hotels over the country by Hastings Hotels. The Spa was built in 2006 only.

Well we had a pleasant two nights stay here. On Friday we tried out the swimming pool and the jacuzzi. On Saturday we had a long day out to the Giants’ Causeway and the whole coast uo, a wonderful sunny day, and on the last day we had some treatments in the Spa. Very expensive at my opinion – hotel and especially treatments. But extremely relaxing and with a great choice for breakfast in a wonderful dinning hall.

Newcastle itself is a tiny town, nice neat streets, wonderful houses, a lot of shops (closed on Sunday nearly all of them) and a Lidl in the former railway station. The beach itself is wonderful, the water was not as cold as I expected but the sand is stony. Though not that easy to walk on. But there is a wonderful beachwalk along the whole city.

The town was initially a castle built by Felix Magennis around 1588 at the mouth of the Shimna River.

The surroundings are great, green hills and forests, many little villages and towns around and easy to reach. I would recommend a navigation system as it’s not always very clear where exactly you need to go. Of course a good map-reader at the drivers side will do perfectly as well!

I enjoyd my time in Newcastle a lot, the great stay in such a renomated hotel and the day out up to the north to County Antrim where we have seen also the Dark Hedges. A longer stay would be even better also for the Tollymore Forest Park and other Forest Parks nearby.

Newcastle, Co. Down/Northern Ireland:

For further information:
Attractions in Newcastle
About County Down
Slieve Donard Resort and Spa

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Getting Lost in the Tollymore Forest Park

One of the most beautiful places I have been in Northern Ireland is the Tollymore Forest Park. As I was in a super fantastic Spa Hotel in Newcastle at the coast of County Down I had the possibility to walk in this recreation area.

Tollymore Forest Park is situated only two miles out of Newcastle at the foothills of the Mourne Mountains and super easy to find. It is already inviting at the entrance, a kind of Gothic, fantasy gate to pass through and drive in a huge space of woods and fields. I saw a camping space as well as sheep grazing on other fields.

At the visitor center you pay for the parking. And all the walks are beginning there.

We took a stroll through the woods. Many people hiking here, Nordic Walking and families, young people having fun in the wild waters of a river, older people enjoying smooth nature walks.

We did a good round walk not too far. The forest seems to be pretty natural, every now and then a bridge over wild or very calm water, up and down, sometimes very even and all possibilities to walk just in the shadows or in the open spaces with sun.

I saw places for BBQ, picnic, children’s playgrounds and much more for the whole family, every age and every imaginable recreation.

The Tollymore Forest Park was designed by Thomas Wright of Durham and for the Lord Clanbrassil, owner of the forest. Here one can find as well exotic trees like eucalyptus but mostly the giant redwoods ant Monterey pines.

The ground is open daily from 10 o’clock until sunset and requires an entrance fee of 5 £ if I remember well. For whom needs it, toilets are as well available.

I was wandering and really enjoyed the wonderful summer air and wonderful walk on the natural grounds. Would have liked to stay the whole day but we had to return to Dublin in Ireland. I would recommend a day here to everyone who has a little time to spent in the area and wants nature walks. But be careful: it’s easy to get lost here!

Newcastle, Co. Down/Northern Ireland:

For further information:
Attractions in Newcastle
About County Down

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