Ireland
Donegal

Here you’ll find travel reports about Donegal. Discover travel destinations in Ireland of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

55 travelers at this place:

  • Day33

    Glenveagh National Park

    October 6, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ 🌙 4 °C

    Today started with a trip to Cruit Island, as recommended to me. On the way I stopped off at a boat ramp for a look. There was a bloke there, who on hearing my accent showed me his boat. It is called the Cootamundra Wattle. He said that he used to hear the song on the radio every day on his way to work and finally looked up what it was. He did ask me if I was related to the Boyds as seven sons had gone to New Zealand years ago. One had never been more than three miles from home and then he went all the way to Christchurch.

    Cruit Island was beautiful. It is connected to the mainland via a bridge so easy to get to. There were a lot of reeds along the road and after seeing a video at the museum yesterday I could see it being harvested to use for weaving. I went out to the golf course (mainly because that’s all my GPS would recognise when I was looking for directions) and it is on the western edge of the island looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean. The sun was shining and the ocean was such a deep blue. The photos just don’t capture it well enough.

    From there I went down to Burtonport planning to catch the car ferry to Arranmore. Unfortunately I hadn’t booked and they didn’t have anymore availability for cars today. I booked for tomorrow and headed out to the Glenveagh National Park. Like a lot of National Parks over here it is different to our National Parks. There were houses/farms in it. At one point a had to drive through a small flock of sheep. I also saw donkeys!

    I always ask the GPS for two routes and I chose the long route which I think took me around the outside on the east side. I finally got there though and it was worth it. There is a castle there - Glenveagh Castle and the gardens are gorgeous. There is a walled garden with fruit trees and vegetables and then acreage with plants from around the world. I even found a gum tree! The trees all out in their autumn splendour.
    To get from the car park to the castle I took a shuttle bus. I got the same driver both there and back and I’m pretty sure he was speaking Gaelic to his mate who came back with him. Obviously it could be any number of languages that I’m not familiar with but I like to think that as I’m in an Gaelic speaking area it was Gaelic. We also saw a couple of deer on the way back to the car park.

    I spent quite a while there so headed back to my hotel when I was done. I’m writing this in the bar. I ate here last night and tonight - it’s much easier when I don’t have to go and find somewhere to eat. They have some good seafood here. Last night I had crab claws and kippers, tonight smoked salmon and scampi. Turns out I didn’t realise kippers were smoked herring. It was very rich and I think it will be be a long time until I try it again.
    There is apparently live music her tonight but it doesn’t start until 9:30. Hopefully I can stay awake that long!
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  • Day34

    The Wild Atlantic Way

    October 7, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Today’s weather wasn’t great to say the least. If you are interested take a look at the radar or satellite for Ireland at the moment and you’ll see what I mean. It was with some misgivings that I decided to stick to my original plan and go to Arranmore.
    From east of Kerry to near Londonderry the road along the coast is known and signposted as The Wild Atlantic Way. If I’d had the time if would have been wonderful to drive all 2500km of it. Up until today I’ve taken the wild to mean the wild beauty of the lamdscape. Today though I got to experience the wild weather.

    Unlike other ferries that I’ve taken this one wasn’t a “roll on roll off” in which you drive on one end and drive off the other. This one you backed onto it and drove off. The tide was low and it was quite steep reversing down the ramp. I obviously didn’t look to confident as one of the ferry guys came and offered to reverse the car for me. I gladly accepted his offer.

    The crossing itself was okay. The route is relatively sheltered as it finds it’s way through some small islands before arriving on the east side of Arranmore.
    I set off to drive to the lighthouse but took a wrong turn and ended up on some really narrow roads where a lot of the bitumen had washed away in parts. I found my way back to Leabgarrow which is where the ferry came in. There weren’t a lot of options for lunch as nothing looked open but I found a pub that did ham and cheese toasted sandwiches (and that’s all they did) but it was fine for lunch.
    After lunch I set out again to find the lighthouse. It’s on the northwestern tip of the island and the weather there was quite ferocious. The rain was coming in horizontally and quite hard. I didn’t take a lot of photos as I didn’t want to get out of the car and even winding the window down sent in stinging rain. I could barely see the ocean through the rain. I’m sure it would be amazing on a fine day. I tried to take the ring road around the island but the weather got worse and so did the road so I went back to Leabgarrow. I was concerned that the ferry might be cancelled but on the other side of the island the wind was much calmer.

    As I turned the car around to reverse in the same guy as before came up to the car and I was again very happy to let him put the car on the ferry. I’m sure I could have done it but I’m equally sure he was a lot quicker than I would have been.

    Once back on the mainland I headed for Inishfree island (which isn’t an island) just for a look. Again the weather was quite wild.

    I finished up with a stop at a service station laundromat to do a wash before coming back to the hotel.
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  • Day35

    Ireland's North

    October 8, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ 🌬 14 °C

    Today’s goal was to visit the Giant’s Causeway. I got a bit sidetracked and didn’t make it up here in time. I set the GPS for Ballycastle which is where I’m staying and I should have been here about 1:30pm. The drive east took me back through the National Park and while the weather wasn’t as good as Saturday it was still a lovely drive.

    I got to Letterkenny and saw signs for Malin Head. Googling showed it was the most northerly point on the island of Ireland so I decided I needed to visit. It was a nice drive up there but oh so windy when I got there. On a fine day you can see the Scottish isles but I couldn’t see very far today at all. Fortunately it wasn’t raining while I was at Malin Head.

    I’m not really sure when I crossed into Northern Ireland. Somewhere around Muff I stopped at a service station and noticed the price was advertised in Euros and also pounds for cash. Shortly after that the GPS started giving me weird speed limits - 97km/hr, 48km/hr and I realised I must be in Northern Ireland. I didn’t see a sign at all.
    The other telltale sign was the increase in roundabouts. I took the A2 from Derry to Bushmills and there seemed to be roundabouts every couple of kilometres.

    I’m just here for the night, I see now that I could have spent 3 nights here but I’m still glad i spent those couple of nights in the Connemara area.
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  • Day9

    Donegal, Ireland

    August 28, 2017 in Ireland ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    We left Achill Island in the rain and wind this morning, we have been very fortunate so far with the weather. On our way we drove to the headland of Mullaghmore, we read the town was where Lord Mountbatten holidayed and had been assassinated whilst fishing off these shores, coincidentally the anniversary of his death had been on 27 August. The reason for our detour had been to view a Castle that is prominent on Mullaghmore's skyline, Classiebawn Castle which was formerly the holiday home of Lord Mountbatten.

    We then travelled along the banks of the Lower Lough Erne which took us into Northern Ireland on our way to Enniskillen. We were hoping for some scenery, but the roads are narrow and right up to the tree line so there is no room for stopping and we only had glimpses of the lake at times. Once we reached Enniskillen and had lunch we followed the opposite bank of the lake back to Ireland and onto Donegal. The rain had cleared by mid afternoon so we had a walk around town, our accommodation is right in the middle of town on Diamond Square. We walked along the banks of the Eske river which flows into Donegal Bay. The walk amongst the moss covered trees was like walking through an enchanted forest, there were fairy doors in the nooks of the trees and mushrooms and toadstools growing in the mossy banks.
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  • Day32

    Travel to Annagry

    October 5, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Today was a travel day and it took much longer than the 4 hours suggested by the GPS. It was closer to 8 hours. I’m not quite sure I’ve got the settings on the GPS correct as even from Clifden to Westport which should have been fairly straightforward along the one road but I was constantly turning off and on the various roads. Then as I got close to Annagry it took me on this really narrow road halfway up a hill just to rejoin the original road I turned off from.
    I did stop at the Museum of Country Life in Turlough which while small was interesting. It was a good reminder that a lot of the traditions were necessitated through poverty and not nearly as romantic as they may seem. They also had a small exhibition on Irish Travellers. It’s the first reference I’ve seen of Travellers since I’ve been here.

    The rest of the trip was pretty much just driving up. It’s a very pretty area and I’m looking forward to exploring it tomorrow.
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  • Day136

    Day 136: County Donegal

    July 1, 2017 in Ireland ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    Up and out a bit late today after another good conversation with our hosts. It was Saturday and they weren't in a hurry to get anywhere, while we only had a fairly short drive today and weren't in a huge hurry either.

    First stop was just nearby, an old Celtic ring fort from the 5th century or so. It had been restored rather poorly in the late 20th century so there's not a lot of heritage stuff there, but it was an interesting spot nonetheless. Fantastic views of the entire district from here, probably 30+ kilometres in all directions - no wonder it was used as a watch tower!

    Had a quick lunch at a sandwich shop in the town of Letterkenny, before continuing south-west across Donegal. Lots of great countryside and views here, grey slate mountains covered in moss and peat bogs. Very dramatic, roughly on par with the Scottish Highlands.

    Arrived at our main destination for the day at around 3pm, the cliffs of Slieve League. These are enormous cliffs, apparently the highest in Europe, dropping 300 metres sheer down to the water. We did a bit of hiking along the cliff edges, looking at various vantage points and taking some photos as it was very dramatic and picturesque. Not too many people around either which was nice.

    Eventually the slight drizzle got to us and we decided to call it a day, heading back to the car. As we drove back down to the lower carpark, hundreds of people were walking up the trail from the tour bus parking lot, so we'd definitely timed it well! It's sad, but nothing crushes my spirit quite like the sight of several coaches pulling up at the same time.

    Drove on to our accommodation on the southern coast of Donegal, just outside the eponymous capital city. This was a large modern country house, where we were staying in what was essentially the guest wing. We had our own bedroom and en suite, plus our own hallway, stairs and lounge room with huge windows and a fantastic view across the bay. Our host wasn't the lady of the house, but her 16 y/o daughter who ran the AirBNB as her summer job. Fair enough I guess!

    The room itself was great and it was really nice to stay in a modern place after so many old farmhouses and buildings. We were provided tea, coffee and biscuits on arrival, and she even offered to look after Schnitzel while we went out for dinner! Which we accepted of course.

    Drove into Donegal for dinner, where we went to Ye Olde Castle Inn. Fun fact: although we think of it as "yee", it's literally just "the". Earlier versions of English used the letter Y to denote a "TH" syllable. Digression aside, we had some good food and headed back to our house in time for the sunset over the water - though it's still around 10pm!
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  • Day135

    Day 135: Causeway Coast

    June 30, 2017 in Ireland ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Out of Belfast and back on the road again. Slightly late getting on the road as Belfast's confusing streets did another number on us, but we soon made it out of the northern suburbs and onto the coast. Today's plan was to drive around the north-eastern coast of Northern Ireland, visiting a few famous spots along the way, then eventually crossing into the Republic of Ireland near Londonderry/Derry and on to our accommodation nearby.

    So we headed north for a couple of hours, stopping here and there as we fancied. At the first stop, a cute little harbour, we found an information board showing that a Game of Thrones scene featuring Arya had been filmed on the harbour steps in front of us! Unexpected bonus. Stopped at a couple of other points as well, with nice views or interesting towns. Also stopped at one point in a narrow road as there had been a rockfall from a cliff above! Cleared the rocks with the help of a couple of other drivers and set off again.

    First main stop was the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, which is (obviously) a rope bridge out to a small fishing island. It spans about 20 metres, 100 feet above churning waters, with dramatic cliffs and buffeting winds thrown in for good measure. We bought our tickets and walked down to find a gorgeous spot, and the beauty was probably even added to slightly by the drizzle and wind.

    I crossed the bridge no problems, though Shandos was pretty scared and held on very tightly. Spent some time exploring the small island while taking photos, then headed back across the bridge up to the car park.

    Although our next stop was to be the Giant's Causeway, since we'd stopped more than we were expecting during the day, and had taken far longer than anticipated at the rope bridge, we decided to do lunch first since it was by now after 2pm. We drove over to the town of Bushmills (home to a famous Irish whiskey distillery of the same name), and had lunch at the inn there. Very tasty food, though a little pricey.

    So it was that after doubling-back a bit, we didn't arrive at the Giant's Causeway until nearly 4pm. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site so I had to do a video, but of course managed to forget my microphone in the car! Hopefully the speakerphone audio works OK. We'd read online that although the site itself is free, parking isn't, and they charge you per person rather than per car. And it's 10.50 per head, which is kind of outrageous. So we parked a few hundred metres up the road, walked down through the carpark, dodged the visitors centre and headed down to the site itself, all free of charge.

    The Causeway itself is very impressive. It's a collection of thousands of basalt rock columns of varying heights, formed when a lava flow from 40-60 million years ago cooled and dried (think of the way mud cracks into regular shapes when it dries and you get the picture). Although the local explanation is that a giant named Finn McCool wanted to fight a Scottish giant, and so to go and confront his rival he started building a causeway across the Irish Sea. I think I know which one I prefer!

    Anyway it was a very impressive site, though there were hordes of tourists around. I don't begrudge anyone being there because they aren't doing anything I'm not doing, but it's hard to see the site existing in its current form for a whole lot longer. Although basalt is pretty hardy as rocks go, you can see where they're being worn and smoothed out by gaudy sneakers and hiking boots all day. We'd hoped that by arriving a bit later in the day it wouldn't be crowded, but no such luck!

    Ended up getting the shuttle bus for the mile or so back to the visitor's centre, where we got chatting to an older couple from Camden. They struck up a conversation because they patted Schnitzel, then told us they have a dachshund at home (amongst other dogs). Such a small world sometimes!

    Back in the car where we drove for another 30 minutes to our final stop for the day - the Dark Glades! This is a narrow country lane edged by twin rows of enormous beech trees planted in the 19th century, a very beautiful sight. They're now suddenly famous because a couple of scenes from GoT were filmed there (scenes from the Kingsroad in seasons 1 and 2). We managed some good timing here, as a tour bus just left as we arrived, and another one pulled up as we were leaving. Strange that a narrow lane with tall trees now attracts busloads of people from across the world, but that's mass tourism for you.

    Finally to the car, where we drove the last couple of hours westward now, eventually crossing the border into the Republic of Ireland. Country #6 for this trip! A little more challenging to drive since all of the speed limit signs are now in KPH, whereas my speedo is in MPH (albeit with KPH in small numbers in the centre). Found our way to the farmhouse that is our accommodation for the night, where we're staying with a fairly young couple. Had a good chat with them before they headed out to the movies for the evening, while we enjoyed our supermarket pizza and played with laptops!
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  • Day1

    The West

    September 24, 2017 in Ireland ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    Mild weather,a really strong "breeze" friendly horses, a band playing music in the book shop, fans celebrating the win, really good seafood chowder and brown bread, and the always stunning scenery. I like the West of Ireland.

  • Day46

    Bailieborough to Letterkenny

    August 16, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ 🌧 55 °F

    Our man to meet this morning was called out by a sick friend but talked to him on the phone, he did a little ‘ferreting’ around last night and is going to continue so we have exchanged details. We will see what happens if anything!!! I think he is like a ‘dog with a bone’ though. We decided to do a ‘roadie’ having never been to Northern Island we thought, why not, so off we went. We wanted to visit some ruins on an island in a lake. Devinish Island had been a monastery, so off we went. Had a private trip in the ferry, skipper so helpful and what a great place. The ruins and where it is situated is amazing. Went up into High country again to Mount Errigal. Very barren countryside, amazing views. Reached our bnb, and is ok. Dinner in a local pub. Back in Ireland but tomorrow in to Northern Ireland, should be interesting. Doing lots of miles and seeing lots of countryside via mainly little roads.Read more

  • Day13

    The far north of Ireland

    October 15, 2018 in Ireland ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

    It was cold but dry when we left Swinford. We headed up towards Sligo, but bypassed it and started following the Wild Atlantic Way, hereinafter called the WAW. This is a scheme whereby little, not so little and some big roads are linked so that travellers can follow the coast. It has been good for business for smaller towns that would otherwise be missed by tourists.
    Our first stop was Strandhill Beach where swimming and canoeing are banned. It allows surfing and we did see a few hardy souls, but why you would bother is beyond us.
    An interesting sign led us to walking along a path that traversed beach and dunes, and around an airport runway, taking us to the ruins of Killaspugbrone Church. It was in a beautiful spot, and Robyn joked that the graves there enjoyed a better view than Gerringong Cemetery where Uncle Jock is buried.
    We took a few other little sojourns, but all of a sudden we found that we were running out of time. Nevertheless we made it to Malin Head just on 4pm, in time to meet Mary, our host.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

County Donegal, Donegal, Dún na nGall

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