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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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JOIN ANDREW McCARTHY ON TOUR

Tuesday, March 28 at 7pm Barnes & Noble Union Square In conversation with Gayle Forman 33 E. 17th St., New York, NY 10003 Wednesday, March 29 at 7pm Barnes & Noble Vernon Hills Shopping Center 680 Post Rd., Eastchester, NY 10583 Thursday, March 30 at 7pm Books & Greetings 271 Livingston St., Northvale, NJ 07647 Saturday, April 1 Texas Teen Book Con | Houston, TX Sunday, April 2 Alamo Drafthouse | Austin, TX Monday, April 3 at 7pm Books, Inc Opera Plaza Not Your Mother’s Book Club 601 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94107 Tuesday, April 4 at 7pm Book Passage 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA 94925 Wednesday, April 5 at 8pm Live Talks LA In conversation with Pico Iyer Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre, New Roads School 3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404 Thursday, April 6 at 7pm Elliott Bay Books 1521 10th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122 Friday, April 7 at 7pm Powell’s Books 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, OR 97005 Sunday, April 9 at 5pm Politics & Prose 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 Monday, April 10 at 7pm Boswell Books 2559 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53211 Tuesday, April 11 at 7pm The Book Stall at Chestnut Court In conversation with Betsy Bird 811 Elm St., Winnetka, IL 60093 Wednesday, April 12 at 7pm Talk of the Stacks Series Hennepin County Library Minneapolis Central Library 300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55401 Thursday, April 13 at 6:30pm Parnassus Books Hillsboro Plaza Shopping Center 3900 Hillsboro Pike #14, Nashville, TN 37215 Tuesday, April 18 at 6:30pm Rainy Day Books At Woodneath Library 8900 N. Flintock Rd., Kansas City, MO 64157 Wednesday, April 19 at 7pm St. Louis County Library With The Novel Neighbor 1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63131 Thursday, April 20 at 7pm Georgia Center for the Book With Little Shop of Stories Dekalb County Public Library 215 Sycamore St., Decatur, GA 30030 Friday, April 21 at 7pm Books & Books 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, FL 33134 Tuesday, April 25 at 7pm Barnes & Noble Market Fair, 3535 US-1 #400, Princeton, NJ 08540 Wednesday, April 26 at 7pm Brookline Booksmith 279 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 02446 Monday, May 1 at 7pm Darien Library In conversation with Dani Shapiro 1441 Post Rd., Darien, CT 06820

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