So I said before that it started with Inishmacsaint.
Previously I told the story of how I developed a bit of a fascination with Inishmacsaint beer from Fermanagh. I initially became engrossed with finding out about the name and history of Inishmacsaint island – and this developed into thinking about travelling there to have a photo taken with the beer bottle in front of the Inishmacsaint sign and cross. I detailed how I visited other areas closer to my home in Carrickfergus to have photos with beers such as Hilden Halt at the Hilden railway stop, Titanic beer at Titanic Visitor Centre and the Ards Brewing Ballyblack stout on Ballyblack Roadnear Newtownards. You get the idea.
Well as Lieutenant George exclaimed on Blackadder Goes Forth “Cover me in eggs and flour and bake me for 40 minutes!” – I only managed to get to Inishmacsaint island folks! Calm yourself, I know you’re all aghast yet slightly intrigued. Or maybe not, but I’ll tell you my story of white shorts, mud, high-heels and piggy-backs anyway. Ah, interested now?
Eight miles from Enniskillen, Inishmacsaint island sits in Lower Lough Erne and can be reached by travelling just past Lough Erne Golf Resort. Once off the road, access to the island is by foot via a bridge. The last time I had intent to pass this way, I made sure a bottle of this hazy delight was firmly secured in the back of the car and so my wife and I headed off on a gloriously sunny day to County Fermanagh.
After a couple of hours driving we pulled up in a car park beside the island and started to make the 2 minute walk to the bridge when – BANG! In front of us were the largest puddles you’ve ever seen. Did I mention there was a monsoon the previous day? Did I mention I was donning white shorts? Did I mention Gillian was wearing heels? Ah, right.
Nevertheless, let’s do this. There’s a grassy bank to the side and she can jump on my back. Forget the fact there are two men digging in the car park who are bound to wet themselves laughing at us.
Well what a sight we must have been, like some sort of piggy-backing half-wits just let out of the asylum, we intrepidly made our way through muddy puddles (for parents who are subjected to Peppa Pig there’s an obvious joke in there) to reach the bridge, only to be met with similar nastiness on the other side. Argh! Whose idea was it to wear white shorts and trainers and not bring wellies?
Anyway, we eventually reached the elusive 6th century Inishmacsaint monastic ruin and were slightly in awe of the 12th century high cross, thinking of the history of the island and what life must have been like all those hundreds of years ago. Thinking over, we scrambled to a decent photo spot with bottle in hand. Can you imagine if we had reached the island after all that kerfuffle only to realise that we’d left the bottle in the car? ‘Murder on Inishmacsaint’ sounds like a great novel title doesn’t it?
Feeling accomplished, relieved and reflective we headed back down the hill towards the bridge (again with Gillian on my back – remember the heels?) and guess what – the huge muddy puddles hadn’t gone away. “Drat” I said, or maybe something a bit stronger. And so the return journey was much the same as the outward journey – namely Gillian on my back, me getting bogged down in, er, a bog and both of us laughing hysterically at the whole thing.
Alas the white/brown trainers didn’t make it much further. Once we got back to the car they were binned and we both still felt like kids giggling uncontrollably. Memories are made of those days!
Next time you’re passing down Fermanagh way (or if you’re already there), take a wee trip along the main Enniskillen to Belleek road and near the Lough Erne Golf Resort take the small side road marked ‘Camagh Bay Jetty and Slipway’ – strangely there’s no indication for Inishmacsaint from the main road. Ideally go just after a rainstorm (ahem) and indulge yourself in the calm and tranquillity of the island – let’s hope there are no guffawing idiots nearby. And have a pint of Fermanagh beer later that evening.