Strand Passes

By John C McTernan

To the west of Carrigeenfada in Ballisodare Bay, was the ancient Fearsat or Strand Pass, linking Tireragh with Coolera and North Sligo. Before the advent of roads and bridges Strand Passes were much used by armies on the march who usually sought the shortest route for their military errands. As late as 1536 O'Donnell, leading his army from Donegal into Lower Connacht. Camped overnight at Lisheen before crossing Ballisodare Bay to Streamstown on the opposite shore. The point at which they entered upon the Strand at Carrowcrin was known as Beal an Fearsat. anglised as Belfersdy on 17th century maps.

Strand Passes were also used for crossing Sligo Bay on the north side of the peninsula. The usual routes here were from Scardan, Gibralter or Finisklin to either Ballincar or Stand-Alone-Point on the opposite side and vice versa. As late as the 17th and 18th centuries, before the channel between Sligo and Rosses Point was opened up to shipping, the Ormsbys of Cummin House regularly crossed the Bay on horseback on their way to fulfill social engagements in North Sligo.