This year was another ‘staycation’-year for us! As, I’m sure, for many of you who’ve just had summer holidays. And if you’re living on the green isle you’ll know by now that long stretches of sunshine during the summer is not the usual pattern. It is usually interspersed with rain. That is why so many – including us – love to holiday in one of the more southern Europe countries. But that was a bit problematic this year.
End of February it seems that Covid was not going to make our lives any easier this coming summer, so we decided to keep the holiday local, again. After all Ireland is a beautiful country, vast spaces, unspoilt nature, steeped in history and very green. To be close to the sea was the only prerequisite. Oh yes, and to go somewhere we haven’t been before. So, our destination of choice was county Donegal.
Also, we had a wedding end of June (and gained another son!) so we knew we’ll want to have time away shortly after that. Timing was everything it seems this year. As it happened we chose the week when Ireland was in a heatwave and experienced high temperatures, beach weather every day. It was just perfect, like being in sunny Spain.
The cottage we stayed in overlooks Towney Bay and has a spectacular view of Sliabh Liag. It is a traditional Irish cottage which would originally have been thatched. It is now modernised and extended, but still has a feeling of old world. We met the owner of the cottage and he told us his granddad lived in the original cottage when it still had three rooms. These three rooms housed nine children (and their parents)!
Beaches and Sliabh Liag
The weather did definitely not disappoint. Warm dry weather, beach weather, every day. And there are so many beaches to choose from. I haven’t done so much swimming in the sea since we came to Ireland all those years ago. Fabulous.
We also visited the magnificent Sliabh Liag. These are Ireland’s highest sea cliffs and located in south west Donegal. Spectacular, wild and a beautiful rugged coastline. We parked as close as possible to the starting point and walked up to the viewing area. The walk up is tough, (it was really warm that day) but totally worthwhile. There are also shuttle buses to take you up to the viewing point.
During the first lockdown in Ireland we followed a programme on television about Wild Ireland. This is a unique wild animal sanctuary located on one of Donegal’s largest peninsulas, Inishowen, close to the village Burnfoot. Located in some remaining Donegal woodlands you can have a look at some wild Brown Bears, European Wolves and Lynx where they live in their natural habitat.
Wild Ireland offers sanctuary to many animals which have been exploited and abused in places like circuses as well as roadside zoos. The park has recreated the natural habitats of these animals so they can now live, much as they do, in the wild. We were also very lucky in that we arrived exactly when the three wolves – Finn, Oisin and Fergus – were fed. Such an amazing park.
There is also a lake in the park where swans, ducks and otters make their homes. And you can see monkeys, wild boar, deer, wild birds (if you can spot them) and more.
The cottage where we stayed, is outside the little village of Kilcar, which is situated against the stunning backdrop of Sliabh Liag’s rugged natural beauty. This village is renowned for traditional hand-woven tweeds, knitwear and other cottage industries. Studio Donegal can also be found in this village. This studio has been designing, hand-weaving and garment making since 1979 and remains true to its original objective. We were allowed to take an informal tour of the works, but because of the heat on that day no one was busy weaving. All products bearing the Studio Donegal label are hand woven and made in the mill in Kilcar.
Other places we visited were Glencolmcille, a Gaeltacht village where we visited the Folk Village which was very interesting and sold the cheapest but yummiest ice cream, the Glencolmcille Woollen Mill, the beautiful heritage town, Ardara, Killybegs renowned for its fishing harbour, the Secret Waterfall and off course Donegal town as well.
Until the next time.