There was no sentry box, no barrier, not even a camera – but we had definitely crossed the border. I knew it because the sign said ‘kms’ instead of ‘miles’.
We had crossed the bridge from Belcoo, County Fermanagh into Blacklion, County Cavan. We then turned left towards Cladagh Glen. The road less travelled? Perhaps, but it’s a lovely part of the country, with limestone cliffs, ancient Ash woodland and cascading waterfalls.
“Fair fa’ ye”, the sign said, Ulster Scots for “Greetings”, or “You are welcome”. It was also written in Irish, English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Chinese. Now, that’s what I call a lovely Irish welcome!
And we spent the weekend crossing back and forth – over that invisible border – between the Republic and Northern Ireland. The curious thing was that we were supposedly crossing from the North to the South and back but mostly, we were simply travelling along these winding country lanes that crisscross the landscape.
And everyone we talked to said that Brexit would be terrible.
A hard border would completely change the story around here. It would be so disruptive, so inconvenient, so aggravating, so provocative, so damn dangerous… Ah, it makes no sense whatsoever.
It is a quiet, natural landscape, and it’s a UNESCO Geopark. It is internationally recognised as having an exceptional geological heritage and is important for highlighting the culture, archaeology, wildlife and history of the area along the county border between Fermanagh and Cavan.
And it was a North/South Peace initiative. Don’t mess it up!