Classiebawn

A couple of weeks ago Prince Charles visited Mullaghmore in County Sligo, where his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten was murdered, along with several other people in his boat, by the IRA in 1979.

The first Liberal Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, Featured imagewas a large landowner in Co. Sligo and started building a house in Mullaghmore called Classiebawn. He died before it was finished, but it was inherited by his stepson, Lord Mount-Temple and eventually through his family, by Edwina Ashley, who married Louis Mountbatten. After the war, and their time in India, the Mountbattens made Classiebawn usable again and started spending their summers there. Mullaghmore is built on peninsula which sticks out northwards from the south shore of Donegal Bay. The village, harbour and strand are on the east, or lee, side of the peninsula and are reached by a branch road from the main trunk road. On the hillside above the village were a number of crofts, some abandoned and some used as holiday cottages. Classiebawn stands at the top of the peninsula exposed to the Atlantic winds – the next land to the west is Labrador. No buildings were to the west of Classiebawn. The land slopes down to the rocky shore. Due to its exposed position, Classiebawn was the first house I ever saw with double-glazing!

When I was at school in Enniskillen, Mullaghmore was one of three favoured seaside resorts for a day at the seaside. Bundoran was a proper town – but the town wasn’t very close to the shore. There was a strand, an outdoor pool and amusements. Also a large golf course encircling a railway hotel, where Charlie Chaplin holidayed once. Rosnowlagh was harder to define; the strand was more spectacular and open to the Atlantic. The churches, houses and other building were very scattered.

It was possible to drive to one of these three resorts after a Saturday or Sunday morning spent in Enniskillen. Of course, it was an international journey, and in those days you had to have car documents stamped each way by the Eire customs. Our family favoured Mullaghmore, with its safe strand backed by sandhills for changing and picnicking in.

Some Enniskillen people moved their whole family to the seaside for the summer, to a caravan at Rosnowlagh or a cottage in Mullaghmore. One summer, gales wrecked several Enniskilleners’ caravans at Rosnowlagh. For my first two scout summer camps, we went to a site on the Classiebawn estate. On the second of these camps the then patrol leader was to become the uncle of one the victims of the bomb.

We heard the news of the bomb on holiday in Norway (after staying in Haderslev – see ‘1864’). The reports came through NRT radio and through the Oslo paper ‘Aftenposten’. Doing some clearing out on Friday, I found that copy of Aftenposten – see picture.

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