Oliver Tweedy

Oliver Tweedy, the traveller and writer, knew quite a bit about beauty spots, having seen much of the world, so that when he uses the word "delectable" to describe a place then it must be something really special.

That is how he thought of Coney Island: "I have the same sort of feeling here that I've had when looking at the pyramids - of something which has seen a lot. Perhaps it's because it's so perfect a setting, it is a delectable island."

St. Patrick would not have agreed for an Island woman once served him up a cat instead of a rabbit for his dinner and he took an immediate dislike to the place.

St. Patrick it was too, who first thought of building a causeway from the Island to Cummeen Strand so that Islanders could get across to Mass at Killaspugbrone.

The incident with the cat put an end to that, although a kind of road was later constructed, parts of which survive today. It is still driveable. It is marked by 14 stone pillars which were errected in the early 1800's and have saved the lives of many unwary travellers caught by the tide.

There are many good reasons to believe that it was this Island which gave its name to the one in New York Harbour. The fact that there are three towns in North America called Sligo adds weight to this. It is said that the name was given to the Island by a man called Peter O'Connor who was the Captain of a vessel called "The Arethusa" which sailed between Sligo and the United States in the 19th century at a time when Coney Island in New York was not named and was inhabited only by rabbits. St. Patrick might have preferred it.

On a calm day, the scene is captivating, dominated by the sweep of Benbulben to the north east and the hunched shoulders of Knocknarea to the south.

They say, of course, that there are fairies on Coney Island and mermaids in these parts too.

In Woodmartin's "History of Sligo" we are told: "There is a fort on the edge of the cliff close to a locality named Pollnamadda on Coney Island and here an old islander swears that many years ago he saw lights in the place one night and heard the sounds of fairy festivities."

Stories of a fairy mowing machine and a mermaid who almost fell foul of the local fishermen do exist.

Persistent talk of silver and lead deposits on the Island fails to get anybody particularly excited. St. Patrick, after all, might not approve.

He is said to have left his mark, litterally, on the stones forming the "Wishing Chair" where, if you sit and make a wish, it will be granted, provided that it is your only wish of the year.

A wish to return there once a year would be a good idea, for this is a magical place indeed.