Dead Man's Point is the headland which juts out from the Rosses Point Village towards Coney Island. Local folklore attributes the name to an episode at the end of the last century when a foreign seaman died as his ship was entering the port and who was buried there by a ship's crew anxious not to miss the tide. The poet, Yeats, referring to his brother's painting Memory Harbour makes the following observation on the incident: As they were not sure if he was really dead, they buried him with a loaf of bread as the story runs.
In the old days, Dead Man's Point, with its secluded landing spot in front of Elsinore Lodge, was a favourite haunt of smugglers. In the 18th Century, according to the Historian Woodmartin: several people in a seemingly respectable sphere of life lived principally by his secret traffic, which was then carried on in a businesslike and wholesale manner.
Tobacco appears to have been the chief contraband. Coney Island has still a link with the days of the tobacco smuggling. On the northern side, under the beacons which face the strand at Rosses Point, is an area of shore called Poll a ' Tabac, Gaelic for the Tobacco Hole. A public inquiry in Sligo in 1880 established the existence of oath bound gangs of smugglers.
Elsinore Lodge was built by a successful smuggler named John Black. He set several cannons outside of it, as thought to command the channel. The Middletons believed the house was haunted by smugglers. They often listened for the three taps on the window pane. It is not surprising therefore that the young WB Yeats, who spent his summers at Elsinore Lodge, was filled with tales of fast Cutters and daring smugglers.
Photograph by Martin Parr