Ireland has been invaded for centuries, so perhaps the Irish psyche is hardwired to point strangers in the wrong direction – in the most agreeable way, of course.
Puzzling over our hiking directions in Donegal’s Bluestack Mountains, we share our proposed route to the top of Banagher Hill for a view of Lough Eske with local foragers, their buckets brimming with chanterelles and hedgehog mushrooms.
“Oh no, there’s nothing up there,” they twinkle, pointing the other way. Five hours later, in lashing rain, the lough has disappeared, the sheep have disappeared, the signposts have disappeared and we’re knee deep in mud and misty mountains.
The next day, we meet some Irish hikers admiring a rainbow. We agree to share the pot of gold before they proffer directions. “Donegal Town – that way,” they dimple.