There is a bit of a hooley going on in Clifden until this Sunday, June 16th. Not only are there regattas, exhibitions and documentaries, followed by a roaring 1920s fancy dress party in Mullarkeys Bar, An Post will also unveil its new postage stamp to mark the centenary of John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown’s arrival on these shores on June 15th, 1919. Even the Central Bank is in on the affair with a commemorative coin to mark the pioneering achievement.
History was made when Alcock and Brown crashlanded their plane into a bog outside Clifden in Connemara after the world’s first transatlantic flight, earning the pair £10,000 (£320,000 in today’s money) and knighthoods.
Interestingly enough, the same bog almost two decades beforehand was instrumental in earning Guglielmo Marconi a Nobel Prize for physics when his wireless telegraphy station on the heath was part of the first ever transatlantic wireless transmission.
The bog is Derrigimlagh, which translates beautifully as the red marsh, an indication of the burnt sienna hues of autumn Connemara heaths. But besides the russet rugged landscape here, the calcification of local seaweed has created another beautiful natural phenomenon, coral beaches.
Set between this red bog and one of the coral beaches is Ceannabhan, a converted cottage which was purchased by Dublin-based technologist Brian Deane more than 12 years ago.
“When we bought it it was a three-roomed cottage but had two very narrow staircases that an average sized human could barely fit on, leading up to two little bedrooms,” says Deane of the house which he has now completely restored and extended.
The property, now in turnkey condition, has four bedrooms, extends to 137sq m (1,475sq ft) and is just a three minute walk for a swim. It sits on 12 acres of the bog adjacent to the site where Alcock and Brown crashed.
Curiously the documents and deeds of the house show the owners of the house to have rights to cut seaweed at four named local beaches (seaweed as fertiliser was a commodity in bygone days). These rights have been handed down through the generations of owners of the cottage.
In addition. the 12 acres of bog have not been cut in over 35 years so hold an abundance of fuel for winter months.
There is also a mooring owned by the house for water sports in the turquoise waters of sheltered Mannin Bay, which lies just a few miles outside Clifden town.
With his eye on another project in Connemara, Deane has placed his holiday home in this scenic and historic setting on the market through Clare Connolly seeking €545,000.
For further festival information see alcockandbrown100.com