When Bond creator was snowed-in at Gartan

It was 1959 and the internationally acclaimed artist, Derek Hill, was hosting a family at his home in Gartan for Christmas.
A time of heavy snow that made travel virtually impossible and forced the visitors to remain on longer than they had anticipated.
No doubt, James Bond would have found a way to negotiate the treacherous conditions (though perhaps not in his Aston Martin) and donned, as he did in several of his films, his ski gear or took to the roads through Churchill and Glendoan on a snow mobile.
But for mere mortals, such as the family of that husband and wife and their son who were stranded in the picturesque surroundings of Gartan, a skyfall of heavy snow had put paid to their plans of vacating the artist’s home in the immediate aftermath of Christmas Day and facing a spectre of a longer stay.
Not that it bothered the young boy too much for the climatic conditions had helped create a winter wonderland for him.
“They were able to skate on Gartan Lake which was frozen over. They had all come to spend Christmas with Derek and here they were skating on the ice and enjoying every minute of their extended break,” says Sally Blake who in later years would become firm friends with the artist who, between Gartan and Tory Island, would make Donegal his home.
And the identity of the family of four who had come to spend Christmas at the Hill residence?
None other than the writer, Ian Fleming, and his spouse, Ann Charteris and son, Caspar – the author the creator of one of the most famous fictional characters in literary and film history, 007, otherwise known as James Bond!
This week, the latest Bond movie to hit cinema screens, ‘No Time to Die’, has finally been premiered after an eighteen month delay due to the pandemic.
Fleming had written a number of the Bond books before his visit to Donegal in the late fifties and indeed may even have been working on ‘For Your Eyes Only’ (published in 1960) during his extended stay in Gartan.
A heavy smoker and drinker, he succumbed to heart disease at the age of 56, just five years after his and his family’s visit to Donegal.
But not before truly forging a Bond with the county….

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