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Andrew McCarthy’s Irish Quests: The Haunted Bog Road

BBC Autos invited the actor, director, travel writer and Ireland devotee to pick his favourite Emerald Isle road trips

By Andrew McCarthy

9 May 2016

My headlights shine into blackness, revealing only the thin, crooked, ungraded ribbon of tarmac disappearing into mist. There is no sign of life in any direction, only the night — and the road. The radio has lost reception. When I step out the wind is ripping. I think I can hear something through the wind, someone calling. I listen harder. I hear it again. Voices? This is the Bog Road outside Clifden, in Connemara, County Galway, in the far west of Ireland. And it’s haunted.

Not far from Ballyconneely, off R341, near Ballinaboy, just before the bridge, it stretches just a few miles, but the Bog Road is one of the most fearsome drives in the Auld Sod.

“I was giving a lift to two old fellas who insisted that they would get out of the car if I turned down the Bog Road,” Roundstone local Malachy Kearns assured me, shaking his mighty head. “Who am I to say?”

Clodagh Foyle of Clifden agreed. “People say it’s haunted. Folks do drive off the road a good bit. I wouldn’t be driving it at night, and certainly not alone.”

Yet here I am. A large boulder creates a hulking blackness beside the road in the moonless, starless night. I know the mountains of the Twelve Bens are looming off to my right, but I can’t see them. For a long while I stare into the abyss. The drizzling rain stops. It’s then that I get out of my car and feel the wind and think I hear someone’s call. Then I’m sure I hear it again.

Tales of spirits, leprechauns and fairies are legend in Ireland; and of course no one believes in them anymore—but the night is long and dark, the wind is calling up the past, and the hair on the back of my neck is standing on end. I climb back into the car, press the clutch and take the long way round.

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