Five Fingers Beach

Ten Years Later

A note before the post:

My heart goes out to those affected by last night’s tragedy in Paris. Sending prayers of comfort and courage. I know the shock of learning that the people you know are held hostage. God help them all.

It is the time for the Governments to rethink and rewrite their policies, and for us people to remain human.



This post is not a review of Alexandre Dumas  book. Last time I was in Inishowen in 2005, ten years ago. Just caught in the life, I guess.

In 2005, we drove up to the Malin Head, the most northerly point of Ireland, turning from Derry clock-wise around the coast. Somehow I have lost almost all my photographs from that trip, but there is one I want to talk about. I remember driving a very narrow road winding up the hill, and then, suddenly, this magnificent view opened like a window onto another world.

five fingers strand

It was quite windy, and the long, lush grass was moving in the wind, making the slope under our feet look like green fur of some giant animal. I was mesmerized by this mysterious beauty.

For years, I was dreaming of coming back, but I had no idea how to find the place. In Google Earth, I found the church and the graveyard, but couldn’t figure out where the road goes. With a tip from  Brendan Diver, I finally learned the name of the place – Knockamany  Bens. Early in the morning, before hitting the road back home, I drove north, my heart ricing with excitement.  I felt like I was heading to a reunion.

And finally, ten years later, I was standing there again, with the only difference that my camera was upgraded to a full frame model. The majestic view was the same.

cnockamany bends

From the viewpoint you can see a nameless hill (presumably Cranny Hill; check out, Lagg village and chapel, Five Fingers Beach, and an inlet from the ocean, called Trawbreaga Bay. Across the water, there are the Doagh Famine Village, islands of Glashedy, Binnion, Dunaff and Fanad, and the highest point, Raghtin More Mountain.

Below, two more photographs taken from the viewpoint car park. Across the water you can see the beach where we had the Elena Shumilova Workshop photoshoot I wrote about.


More of Trawbreaga Bay.


Good bye Knockamany…  Hope to come back some day. My project for 2016 is ‘Mizen to Malin‘ cross-country photography trip.

One last photograph, October 2015.


If I followed the road, I would eventually get to the Malin Head. As it commonly happens in our life, the journey is much more spectacular than the destination. This is Malin Head, July 2005.

malin head

We didn’t explore much at that time. The trip was a detour after traveling around Northern Ireland.  Another picture from Malin Head, and a bit of history.

malin head

The ‘EIRE’ sign, painted on stones below Banba’s Crown tower  at Malin Head, was a symbol of Irish neutrality during World War Two. The sign was a message to World War Two pilots that they had entered neutral territory. The Battle of the Atlantic began on September the 3rd 1939, 250 miles North West of Malin Head. German U-boats and submarines torpedoed both cargo and armed ships, and distress signals were received at Malin Head. Hundreds of lives were saved. The wreck of the RMS Transylvania sits almost intact 135m below the water’s surface. She was being towed  but sank before reaching the land.

Another remarkable place you can see East from Banba’s Crown hill, is Ballyhillin Beach.

malin head

This beach has its secrets. If you plan to go to Inishowen, don’t miss it.

To add to my memories from July 2005, I want to share these pictures from December, the same year. That  time we didn’t travel around Inishowen, but checked it out from the heights of The Stone Fort of Grianán of Aileach.

Grianán Ailigh

stone fort

stone fort

These are all the memories I have from 2005.

Driving down the hill, I took a few more photographs, including the one with the sheep I posted in my first blog.





The church in the images is a Roman Catholic chapel built in 1784. It has many amazing features that I hope to write about some other time. At the church I turned to the Five Fingers Beach to look at the sand dunes. They are not the largest dunes I have seen, but very beautiful. I didn’t dare to go to the beach because there was no one around, and I understand the word ‘quicksand’.


I took this photo just to show how amazing is the grass that stabilizes the dune. I hope people understand that climbing can destroy protective coastal ecosystem that has been formed through the centuries.


The Five Fingers Beach takes its name from the five sea stacks that are visible at low tide. The wreck of The Twilight, which sank in 1889 en route from Newfoundland to Derry, can also be seen when the water is low. The beach is sheltered by the cliffs and hills. This is The Soldiers Hill.


My good-bye visit, as I already wrote, was to The Pollan Bay in Balliliffin, one minute drive from the Strand Hotel. I packed my car, checked out and hit the road. About my trip from Waterford to Inishowen and back I will write in a week or two.

Now it is the time to confess that I hoped to seriously impress my readers, but the odds were not in my favor. Alas. Brendan Diver  – Photos from Ireland – I will share his photograph instead .


Just a few words about Brendan.  He takes stunning photographs of the Northern Lights ( Aurora Borealis) – his images have been seen across the world on numerous TV News networks, such as RTE, BBC, ITV, Sky News, Good Morning America etc. He was an official photographer during the visit of President Michael D Higgins to Inishowen in 2014; he was invited to photograph Colonel Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut who himself took amazing photographs of Aurora from space. He organized Elena Shumilova Workshop, and an extra night photography class, at which we were expected to take photos of said Aurora Berealis! No luck with that, there was no display of the Northern Lights  in the area that weekend.

For those who might plan their visit to Ireland next year, there are two more workshops scheduled in July. I wouldn’t hope for Aurora though.

Thank you for reading! More to follow…

IneseMjPhotographyHave a peaceful weekend!