Monday, August 17, 2015

A Murderous Climb

At the 'Murder Hole'
With its slog of a 6-mile climb through exposed boggy scrubland, the Windy Hill Road is everything that it promises. It is windy. And it is hilly. And so one would think the name by which it's officially known would be sufficiently evocative. The locals, however, take the evocative factor up a notch and call it the Murder Hole Road.

At the 'Murder Hole'
"The what?..." I said, startled, the first time I heard this creepy name casually uttered - perhaps whilst receiving directions ("Ah it's just up the Murder Hole Road over that way"). But so familiar are those words around here that they hardly strike anyone as creepy or even weird. It's just a place name like any other.

Curious about its origins, I did some quick research. And I learned that the road now known as Windy Hill was once a rural highway famous for its gruesome murders.

At the 'Murder Hole'
At the very top of the hill the road dips, and a grassy bank by the roadside makes for an inviting place for weary travelers to stop and rest.

At the 'Murder Hole'Taking advantage of this, a man named Patrick Cushy Glen would sit in wait for just such an eventuality,

At the 'Murder Hole'
hiding behind the bank with dagger in hand -

At the 'Murder Hole'
then robbing and killing any traveler who came his way.

At the 'Murder Hole'
For years, if not decades, he made a career of this, prospering with his wife and offspring in their nearby dwelling, apparently undistrurbed by the authorities, until one day he tried to mess with the wrong fellow and was felled himself.

At the 'Murder Hole'
Such is the story of Cushy Glen. And funny enough, shortly after I moved here and learned this bit of history, the local Council erected a statue of the man to commemorate it - part of the Limavady Sculpture Trail "celebrating local myths and legends."

At the 'Murder Hole'
The positioning of the statue - behind the grassy bank and out of sight from the road - is impressively authentic to the actual events it "celebrates." Here the passing traveller is lured by the promise of a scenic picnic area, only to be surprised by the rather strange statue and the disturbing plaque that accompanies it.

At the 'Murder Hole'
After a pant-enducing cycle to the top of Windy Hill Road, I sometimes take a rest at the "Murder Hole." But never for too long. For, even though some centuries have passed since Mr. Glen's activities, something about the place keeps me on my toes, glancing over my shoulder even as I sip from my water bottle, eager to get going again and descend far, far away from the place.

Talk about a murderous climb!

28 comments:

  1. I am chuffed to read this after my wife and I's recent visit to Limavady. The sign next to the sculpture was missing and we had no idea who that guy was! Keep the travel stories coming :)

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    1. Sign is still missing; I think it was destroyed in a storm.

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  2. I see that the Limavady Sculpture Trail lists ManannĂ¡n Mac Lir. Has he been restored?

    I wonder if the statues have nicknames as this seems to be usual in some other places in Ireland. Belfast has "Nuala with the hula" but Dublin excels with "the tart with the cart", "the floozy in the jacuzzi", "the prick with the stick" and many more.

    What about "the hoor with the skewer" for Mr Glen? ;)

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    1. Mac Lir is "the boat man" (and I don't think he's actually been restored yet; that sculpture trail page is 2 years old).

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    2. Would this dude be the "Jerk with the Dirk"?

      Spindagger

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  3. 6 mile slog of a climb, eh! How did the DIY bike do?

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    1. Very well. Considering it is a good 5lb heavier than my Seven, this bike lags behind only a tad, as long as I don't try to accelerate or push my pace beyond my limit.

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    2. It's all in the engine.

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    3. Ah but when the engine remains constant it is fun to notice differences in the... oh darn, I am not sufficiently familiar with the anatomy of machinery to make analogies :)

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    4. Supermarine Spitfires and North American Mustangs both used the same basic motor- a Rolls Royce (or Packard- built) Merlin engine. The two designs yielded pretty different results.
      You could run with that, and I'm sure the resident aviator would approve.

      Apropos the comments downthread, a statue to a straight-up murderer is a fairly odd thing!

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  4. Another interesting tale and lovely photos - I would not want to be there alone :( I like the wind turbines in the background btw - much debate here about these, I find them quite majestic - are they popular where you live?

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    1. There were just starting to become common when I moved here, and now they are very much so. Here is an earlier post about them:

      Tilting at Windmills


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    2. Thank you for the link - very interesting - I also find them to be quite fascinating and not at all out of place in a natural landscape - I have seen in photos and on television, rows of these stationed along beaches- remarkable.

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  5. Replies
    1. Yes and again I can't help but worry that it is somewhat wasted here, no offense to your 5,500 daily readers. Perhaps a coffee table book, or a calendar, would be a good way to supplement your income?

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    2. Thank you, but purely in financial terms a coffee table book is actually a horrible way to supplement an income! I do think a calendar would be nice, just for fun, and keep meaning to offer one... but can never get it together in time for the calendar season : ) Who knows though, this year could be the year.

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    3. A calendar would be lovely and I agree your standard of photography and accompanying stories is very high - much appreciated.

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    4. No, please, no calendar. It'll only rob one of experience. These days it's so easy to go out and shoot photos, let's go out and make our own calendars. It's not that hard.

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  6. This reminds me of traveling through Bulgaria some years ago. I was given an "official tour" of a forest. "And here by the stream we have statue to National Hero So and So". I wonder what has happened to all those monuments now.

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    1. I used to often travel to Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania for work until 2010 or so and found it interesting how many Socialist-era statues were still around. It seems after the first wave of destroying them, the mood shifted to keeping them ironically. And sometimes even not so ironically.

      Funny enough the Limavady Trail sculptures - and others throughout Ireland - do seem to have a strangely Soviet vibe to them. I've gathered a photographic collection that I will put up some time.

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    2. "the mood shifted to keeping them ironically"

      Kind of like the "statues to the unknown rapist" in Germany? (please feel free to delete if too dark for this blog)

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    3. That too (and in Austria as well).

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  7. I'm amazed anyone would erect a statue of a murderer.

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    1. I know. And although one could argue that many political figures in whose honor statues have been erected were in fact pretty murdery also, this one was just a downright serial killer with no significance beyond those actions. Fascinates me that no one here seems to find this all that weird.

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    2. Here in Australia we have statues and various memorabilia/knick-knacks based on a local character Ned Kelly who operated outside the law - he was a bush ranger who has become a national symbol whom many admire. However - serial killers and rapists - that's a step too far - fail to understand how these could achieve the kind of status one would imagine necessary to elevation as a landmark.

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    3. It is similar with Jack the Ripper in London with tours, museums, memorabilia and the like. There have been some voices expressing unease that an "industry" is developing around a serial killer but it doesn't seem have had much effect.

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  8. My fav evening ride takes me up Windyhill from Coleraine, through the forest tracks passed the mast towers and back around through Downhill and home. Windyhill is great; a fine series of step ramps that leave you dumped in a landscape of relict agricultural activity barely masked by modern industrial land resource management. It's such a typical Irish juxtaposition.

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  9. the man with his knife scare me

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