by Joseph Ryan Glover

"BarnesmoreGap" by Detroit Photographic Company - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Via Wikipedia -

“BarnesmoreGap” by Detroit Photographic Company – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Via Wikipedia –

I found the following story in my grandfather’s climbing papers. The David in the story is David Ballantine Glover, my late father. The Alyson is Alyson Glover nee Bolton, my late grandmother. Kim is my grandfather’s faithful dog and climbing companion. Also, I assume, late. Editorially, I have added some paragraph breaks to the first part of the story to make it read better; I believe my grandfather would forgive me this indulgence as I have not otherwise changed the text. I find this story amusing because, at the time of this blog post, I have a 7-year old son. I suspect that my city boy would not fare as well as my father did in this story, if I could get him off his Nintendo and out to a mountain in the first place. Also: ‘Consternation!!’ is my new curse word in polite company.

SATURDAY, 28th July, 1956.



Shortly after lunchtime, Barbara, Liz, Edgar and Joey set out for a climbing expedition in Barnesmore Gap. A last minute addition to the party was Joey’s offspring David, aged seven. The A.50 proceeded uneventfully via Strabane and Ballybofey and came to rest as the west end of the Gap and in a short time all five were straggled out on the slopes of Croagconnellagh.

Before long Barbara stopped at a climb which she and Denis had tried out unsuccessfully last year. Joey went to the top to bring her up on the rope but first he instructed David to head on quietly upwards and to stop at the cairn if he was first to arrive at the summit. With Edgar’s help Joey then proceeded to bring Barbara up but the climb proved a tough nut to crack and Barbara was eventually hauled up by the combined efforts of J. E. and L.

Joey then decided it was high time to get a sight of David and dropping the rope he headed off the top at high speed. He was horrified to see how much mountain there was but relieved to see young David going over the skyline accompanied by Kim – though he was not heading for the cairn but heading N.W. along the top. Soon J. passed over the skyline also and strolled over to the cairn. No. David! Consternation!!

Shouts were unavailing as the high and cold wind carried them away. Joey now sped off N.W. along the top but saw nothing. After half an hour or so he dropped down along the S. side to contact the others. Barbara promptly organized the quartet into a search party but two hours of assiduous searching produced no David – or Kim. It now being past 6.00 p.m. it was resolved to organize a proper search party so Barbara and Liz descended to the A.50 (and Joey also for his boots – he had been in tennis shoes) and these two sped into Dongeal town to contact the Garda.

Meantime Joey climbed up once again to the rejoin Edgar and continue the fruitless search. The clouds had now descended and the weather was steadily deteriorating and about 9.30 p.m. they were about to give up when long blasts of the horn on the A.50 from the Gap attracted their attention. On descending they heard that David was safe and well and was in the Central Hotel. The search now appeared to be for Joey and Edgar!

Later, the details of this horrible afternoon were pieced together and it appeared that David had reached the cairn but fearing the clouds were about to come down he had headed off, not towards the Gap and the main party, but northwards towards Croaghaniwore. Descending to the Barnesmore River he had eventually followed Kim when he turned left and reached a rough bog road which led to a cottage. Here he accosted a Mrs. Martin and explained that he was lost and that lady and her husband drove him into Donegal town where he was delivered to the Garda Barracks.

While all this was going on, and while Joey and Edgar were floundering about Croagconnellagh, Barbara and Liz had contacted the Garda after some difficulty. Sergeant Martin Hughes took complete charge and in a very short time had got together several carloads of searchers. Almost immediately after these had set out David arrived and the search was called off. Those heading for the north and west of Croaghconnellagh searched for some time before they were contacted but eventually the question was “are Joey and Edgar now lost?”. However, all ended well and about 10.00 p.m. Joey and David were reunited and the whole party headed for Derry where they arrived at 12.50 a.m. on Sunday to find that Alyson had been busy ringing up various hospitals!

N.B. The Club Members may be in need of practice at searching for “lost” members but Joey feels that realism is not called for to this extent! However, this will teach him to keep an eye on his offspring!!