Barnesmore Gap

Barnesmore Gap is that big opening between Croaghconnelagh (Conall Cullban of Tirchonaill’s mountain) and Croaghonagh (Owen’s mountain), it is the most outstanding feature of the Blue Stack landscape. Here, in this very fine mountain pass the traveller is shut in between these two great hills as he wends his way along a really excellent road that traverses the Gap. These are rugged and gaunt grey mountains which, from a distance, give off a hue of blue, and for three miles on either side the traveller is between massive cliffs and yawning rents cut by streams racing down the mountain and falling into the noisy Lowerymore River. This river keeps company with the main road as far as Lough Eske where it joins the River Eske.

For centuries the Gap has been a strategic gateway between the Northern and Southern parts of County Donegal. But Barnesmore was also, in other days, a place of sinister repute. Up to about 1800, it was the notorious haunt of brigands, highwaymen and rapparees who waylaid, robbed and murdered travellers. It became so perilous that from the mid 1700’s a garrison of Red Coats was stationed at the Ballybofey end of the Gap to ensure the safety of travellers. The authorities also erected a gallows in the Gap to deter these people. The West Donegal Railway Company opened a Railway Line on 25th April 1882, which closed in 1959.

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