On a visit to Tullan Strand during our tour of the Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal we came across a memorial to some Canadian airmen who had died in a crash at the Strand in 1944.
During WWII Ireland was officially neutral however there was a secret agreement between the Irish government and the British government resulting in what became known as the Donegal Corridor. British planes could use the air route over north Leitrim and south Donegal that linked the Atlantic Ocean to Northern Ireland, so long as they kept above a certain altitude and did not become a “nuisance” or noticeable to the coastal villages and areas.
This route would become known as “The Donegal Corridor”. On 10th April 1941, a plane forced landed in neutral Ireland at Tullan Strand, Bundoran because they ran out of fuel. The Irish Army escorted the men to the Finner Army Camp, assuming they would be held there. They were not aware of the secret deal that had been arranged. The necessary fuel was delivered to Beleek and then transported to Bundoran by the Irish army, the flying boat was re-fuelled and it took off again on its mission.
In 1944 the 518 Squardron took off from Scotland on their meteorological mission, it was critical intelligence that was needed on the weather to protect the patrols for the Allied shipping convoys bringing supplies from Canada and America to England. These missions were so important that the crews went out regardless of the weather conditions. Tragically, the plane hit the cliffs near the Fairy Bridges on Tullan Strand, and all ten men were killed.
A monument to the Halifax crash can be seen today at Tullan Strand.
The Fairy Bridges and the Wishing Chair are signed from Roguey’s Walk and have been a Bundoran attraction and subject to legends and stories dating back to the 1700’s and probably further. The bridges are sea stacks hundreds of years old, locals believed them to be haunted by the fairies with the result of the name “The Fairy Bridges”.
Legend says it is advised to approach the Wishing Chair with care or your wish won’t come true. “Wishers are advised to sit down slowly holding on to both “arms” of the chair and then pause for at least 15 seconds to take in the stunning scenery that surrounds them – Donegal Bay to their left, Tullan Strand straight ahead and the Dartry Mountains to the right.” (from Discover Bundoran). Apparently you must keep your wish secret and silent whilst thinking about all those who have sat in the chair before you. Finally, when you rise to leave you must tap the seat twice which is believed to indicate your wish is a genuine one.
This extract taken from a poem simply titled “Bundoran” which appears in the 1944 Bundoran Visitor’s Guide,
written by former Town Clerk Edward Daly
The Fairy Bridges where the sprits,
In moon-lit splendour sport and play,
Span chasms dark and lowering where
The Iashing waters dash and spray.
And then the dear old Wishing Chair,
Where heart sick maids petitions lay,
Where thousands found each wish come true,
And ever bless the “happy day”.
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