Lough Dhu
The gateway to the underworld

The Grey Man’s Path is said to run from the shore to the plateau above Fair Head, though many refer to it starting at Marconi’s Cottage and going on past Lough Dhu. There are lots of local stories surrounding the Grey Man’s Path – one of these tells of a Mary McAnulty who lived beyond Lough Dhu above Fair Head, she always used the Grey Man’s Path to come down to the shore for the purpose of collecting dulse at the base of Fair Head.

One evening, she was returning home as usual with a full bag of dulse; along the way she had regular favourite spots to stop and take a  rest from the hard climb, one of these was at the top of the gulley. As she rested there this evening she noticed in the twilight a figure of man approaching along the path, she noticed he had a limp, she paid no heed to him and started out on her way towards Lough Dhu where she would take another rest, the man caught up with her and walked beside her, in politeness Mary exchanged a few words with him about the weather, though she noticed his voice was different and not of the accents she was used too, she noticed too, in the falling light, that the his face was pale and expressionless below his coat hood. She did not want to stare but could almost swear that it was grey,  but paid no more heed to this only to wonder who he was and from where he had come and what ailed him.

When they reached Lough Dhu and as she sat to take another rest, the stranger sat beside her. It was then that Mary noticed that his hair in the fading light looked a greenish colour and she could not resist but ask him why, he told her it was due to him having lived beneath the waters of Lough Dhu for many years, now this alarmed Mary a wee bit, for she thought he was either intoxicated or deranged, and neither did she care much for.  The stranger said he was very tired and proceeded to rest his head on Mary’s dulse bag and his head half ways on her lap and he fell asleep.  Mary for a moment did not know what to do at this behaviour, bewildered she looked around as if to expect someone coming to her aid when she noticed that that the stranger had one foot in the shape of a broken horse hoof, now this  put the fear into her and she squeezed her leg low enough to slip it out from below the strangers head and took off, her quiet steps turning into the thumps of a fearful run as her heart pounded and her mind waiting to be grabbed from behind.  As she got a fair distance away and within sight of her home she heard a spine chilling neighing coming from Lough Dhu, then it fell silent.

Mary never came back along the Grey Man’s Path at twilight again and every time she passed Lough Dhu she remembered her close encounter. The story goes that she had encountered the devil-horse that lives in Lough Dhu and  wanders along the Grey Man’s Path at twilight disguised as a human, waiting to lure some unsuspecting human into the underworld of Lough Dhu. So…….. you’ve been warned! especially if you’ve take too long to walk round to Murlough Bay and twilight falls upon you…

Researched and written by:   Art Ward  http://www.causewaycoastalroute.com/mary-mcnulty.html