The Wild Atlantic Way holds so many little gems – not least of which are the bubbly, helpful hosts of the various b&bs.
Now I have avoided comparisons with Australia thus far, but when our day’s drive threw up the coastal holiday resorts of Bundoran and Ballyshannon as exciting surf destinations…….well! But, hey, the drive is worth a million dollars and the friendly greetings in every place we have visited have outshone the grey skies. So what if the surf is almost invisible and the water freezing, the tides are way out and the wet suits compulsory?
There are flowers everywhere and apparently the reef breaks are world class…….so the WAW holds something for everyone. And more shades of green. The museum at Ballyshannon is upstairs in Slevin’s furniture store, and holds a huge amount of the town’s history, particularly medieval, and its heroes…..as well as the chance to buy a new bed on the way out. 🤣
The Spanish Armada plied their way up and down this section of the west coast……and lost many ships in the process. The monument to the wrecks is #simple in shape and sentiment.
Our current pursuit of family history in Ireland means we are always on the lookout for links and little connections to boost our 40 year obsession. To share our finds for the Carney line, we detoured to the very picturesque village of Carney full of civic pride and begonias to die for.
Then it was on to Donegal Town where we were housed up the steep narrow winding bright red staircase at the Diamond Lodgings in the very centre. The well-equipped and knowledgeable Visitor Centre kick-started the hope of Forsyth and McNutt family treasures being uncovered once we arrive in Letterkenny. The Four Masters Bookstore had the exact Ordinance Map we need! Quite a find!
Donegal Castle was a treat – the banqueting hall with its amazing fire place and the tapestries brought the bygone era to life. Quite apparent was the much shorter size of the people a few hundred years ago. Made me feel quite tall. The small but vibrant railway museum also shone. Green # 15-20.
And the strawberry sugar-loaded meringue was superb! We even found a Mexican restaurant to throw in a bit of a change from the pub fare….fiesta!
On rainy days the early morning walk leaves a bit to be desired in terms of photos, but the walk along the Donegal Town pier, and through the cemetery with its abandoned friary was very peaceful.
Linda’s Diner was a break with local custom of the days slowly crankings up around 10am….it opened at the ungodly hour of 8am for the tradie traffic. Yep, another small Irish brekky was enjoyed, and we then set off with wipers happily flapping for more adventures – indoors was preferable.
Yesterday’s first stop was at the Hand Knitters and Weavers centre at Killybegs. We were made very welcome and were allowed to chat with the master craftsmen at their looms. Beautiful designs and colours – Australian wool being used.
A break in the weather meant we walked the cliffs of Slieve League. Stunning! Steep (though Muz made it to the first lookout); a bit of vertigo close to the edge at times; woolly heads and sheep; the Standing Towers warning of ships or smugglers; sheep strategically ignoring the foot traffic; steeper; then the views……..the cliffs with a cotton wool blanket on top. Worth every minute of the 50 minute hike. Just wish the fresh lobster van had been open at the top. Going down was a much quicker affair.
The Glen Cholm Cille Heritage Village (not as touristy as it sounds) was a lunchtime meander in to the 7 cottages showing the life and times of the mid 1800s. This held a fair bit of interest as it coincided with the time when our Irish ancestors started to leave and seek a better life in Queensland. The open fireplace, the fishing gear, peat for the fires and the incredible belief in both religion and the influence of fairies were all fascinating. Even had the old wooden desks and slates which many of my era would remember. The vegetable soup was deliciously filling.
Driving through the Glengesh Valley and Pass in and around Ardara, and seeing the Asansara Falls, and the truck bringing the bags of shells to plant out in the extensive oyster and mussel beds, and the general coastal scenery was a really special way to end the day as we rolled in to Glenties and Marguerite’s b&b.
This gentle town barely had anything open after 6pm, but the Highland Hotel offered a very welcome salmon risotto. We ambled back to find the sheep grazing over the back fence and another night of extraordinarily little choice on tv. Luckily our reading material fills the void.