Throughout the world for St. Patrick's Day many iconic landmarks are 'going green', in other words being lit up with green lights, to celebrate Ireland and Ireland's most famous Saint.
It has become such a big event now that it even has it's own hashtag on twitter! #GlobalGreening where people are adding photos of buildings turned green where they live.
Iconic landmarks 'going green' this year include The Leaning Tower of Pisa, The Great Wall of China, London's Eye and the Sydney Opera House. But here in Donegal another, lesser known, place was lit up last night: Banaba's Crown.
The area is more correctly called Altnadarrow but in the 1969s the tourist board decided to put the name 'Banba's Crown' on it. Banbha (Banba in English) was one of Ireland's mythological Goddesses, It is now more commonly known by people not from the area as 'Banba's Crown'.
Way up beyond Malin Town and Malin Head lies this scenic, if normally very windy, spot. In daylight you can look out over the Atlantic Ocean and to the north east, Inishtrahull Island and the lighthouse there.
At Banba's Crown there is a tall Napoleonic tower built as a look-out tower by the British in 1805. It is one of over a dozen such towers dotted around the coastline of County Donegal.
It was from here in 1902 that the Marconi Company sent the first ever commercial radio message (to a ship named the SS Lake Ontario).
During daylight hours it is not too difficult to find but last night, in the pitch dark (there are no street lights within miles of this area), it was a slightly harder job. Just as we approached Malin Head we saw the Napoleonic tower lit up in green in the distance but we got lost for a moment or two until we spotted car headlights heading along a side road and decided that they were possibly going to Banba's Crown too and we followed the road they took.
Once we started to near Banba's Crown we realised that we were certainly not going to be alone. There were cars coming and going up and down the narrow road to the top. Luckily, like many such small roads in Donegal, there are cut outs from the fields at the sides every now and then which allows one car to pull over and allow the other to pass. And last night with all the traffic we were very glad of them.
It was mad up there. I had thought there might be one or two nuts like us who wanted to brave the elements and drive miles to get a photo but I never expected to see hoards of people, families with all ages of children running around, people like us who wanted to photograph it all, and of course lots of people doing 'selfies' in front of the tower. ('Selfies' for those not aware of them are photographs you take of yourself ~ with possibly friends/pets etc. included ~ on a phone, more than likely to post on one or more social media sites).
When we arrived up it was raining and quite windy and so taking photographs was a pain because we kept having to wipe our lenses and quickly try to grab a shot but luckily, the rain stopped for a while allowing plenty of shots to be taken. Banba's Crown is totally exposed to the wild Atlantic Ocean and it can be very cold and very windy up there. The last time we were up it was almost impossible to get out of the car so strong was the wind ~ it was even rocking the car so last night was relatively mild compared to that.
In keeping with the madness of the night, there at the top of the cliffs on Ireland's most northerly point was just what you would expect to see in such a place on a windy, rainy night ... a van selling coffee! It was all very Fr. Ted-ish.
The van there is an established business called Caffe Banba and operates there from spring until the autumn. (I can nearly hear what the locals must have said when the idea for selling cups of coffee at Banba;s Crown was first heard of).
But mad and all an idea as it may have been, it has been a success and last night they were doing a roaring trade both in coffee but also I noticed the hot chocolate (topped with tiny marshmallows) seemed to be the drink of choice for the night. There was a constant queue around the van and the guy who owns it was telling me it had been the same all day.
It was great to warm both body and frozen hands with a beaker of piping hot coffee. I had an Americano and my husband had a cappuccino. The coffee is freshly ground for each order and the is excellent. With the weather that was in it, a watery 'van coffee' would have been welcome but to have real coffee was a very happy surprise. (They also sell tea, soft drinks, cakes, biscuits etc.).
So was it worth the round trip of 110 miles to Ireland's most northerly point on a damp, blustery, dark night in them middle of March? Hell yes!
Click on any of the images to enlarge and see below gallery for a link to google maps.
Banba's Crown 16th March 2014
Views in daylight and evening. In some of the photos below you can see the narrow road up to Banba's Crown.
Find Banba's Crown on google maps HERE.
We Love Donegal
We Love Donegal is a site dedicated to bring the beauty of County Donegal on the north west coast of Ireland to the world.