On Saturday morning we woke up early, ate the muffins we bought the night before and called for a taxi to Dublin airport. The cab driver was there before we finished paying the hotel bill. He was very friendly and chatty. We found the desk for Dan Dooley and everything went smoothly getting the rental. I had already paid for it online. We took the shuttle bus to the car depot. Our car was a Nissan Micra. It was a bit smaller than the KIA we had in Scotland. It had also seen better days! The hub caps and tires were all scratched up. It had over 100,000 kilometres on it.
We made our way to the highway without any trouble. I wanted to drive through County Monaghan because that is where my grandfather's family had originally come from. It actually looked very much like home. We drove up through Emyvale, into County Tyrone and then over to County Fermanagh and through Enniskillin, onto County Donegal. We had booked a B&B just outside Ardara. We left the Dublin Airport at 9:15 and made it to the B&B by 3:00. It rained lightly all the way so we didn't stop. Our B&B was called Inis Failin. Our hostess, Bernadette, was very friendly. She offered us tea and biscuits upon our arrival and we chatted for a bit. Our room had a view over the estuary and the hills. We could see a large waterfall as well that I wanted to check out later.
We rested for a couple of hours and then went out for dinner at Nancy's, a 300 year old pub which had been recommended. I had fish chowder and Mike had mackerel. They were both good.
Then the sun came out. We went for a drive down the other side of the estuary (Loughros Point). We found the waterfall and then headed out farther, finding the parking lot for Maghera Caves. We decided to come back and see the caves the next day.
Sunday morning we woke up to sunshine! Across the estuary looked very much like parts of the Scottish highlands. We had poached eggs and bacon for breakfast. Our destination this day was Slieve League cliffs. We went to Killybegs first to see the harbour. Mike is interested in places that the Spanish Armada landed or wrecked and Killybegs Harbour is one of them.
We found the cliffs without a problem and took the long narrow road up to the top for a view. We met some sheep on the road. There were a couple of small mini buses with tourists there. I didn't know that tour buses came this way. Although it was sunny, it was extremely windy. A lot of the tourists off the buses stood with their backs to the cliffs because of the wind. I took a video which showed the wind. We didn't dare climb farther up the cliff because we were being blown around and it didn't seem safe.
We left the cliffs and headed to Glencolumbkille, stopping across from the Folk Village to take photos of the beach. We followed the road that took us through Glengesh Pass. It was very beautiful.
Back in Ardara, we went out for Sunday lunch at the Nesbitts Arms hotel. It was crowded and there weren't any tables left, but the Anglican minister and his wife offered to share their table with us. We had a nice chat with them. Sunday lunch was a roast beef dinner or turkey and ham dinner. Mike had the roast beef and I had the turkey & ham. I also had ice cream and jelly for dessert. €27.30
We then went back to the Maghera Caves since the tide was out and you can't get to them otherwise. Well, the tide wasn't out quite enough to enter one of the caves but we did get far out onto the beach. They were interesting.
We then stopped at the waterfall again. I wanted to try some slow shutter speed photos on it. They turned out pretty good.
Since we had a full dinner at lunchtime, we decided to just get some buns, cheese and meat from the store at the petrol station for supper.
All Sunday night it was very windy. You could hear the windows rattle. When we woke up Monday morning it was still extremely windy with intermittent rain storms. We wanted to head out to Tramore Beach, north of Ardara near Rosbeg, to see where one of the Spanish Armada ships wrecked and then go for a drive up along the coast to Horn Head. But when we arrived at Tramore Beach, it was so windy that as soon as we opened the car door, lots of sand blew in. We only made it a couple of yards to the beach when we turned back. It was just too windy. So we went on to the Dolmen Centre at Narin but couldn't get close to see the dolmen since the field was very wet.
We decided the weather wasn't good enough for a drive all the way to Horn Head, so we drove to Dungaron then over to Fintown, the Glenties and then back to Ardara. It was pretty barren along that way, nothing but peat fields.
We were back at the B&B by lunchtime and just had more of our buns and meat in the conservatory. Bernadette made us a cup of tea to warm us up after our stormy drive. Then Mike went upstairs for a nap and I stayed in the conservatory to download photos on my netbook. It was when I went on the internet I found that we were in the middle of a class 10 storm with winds up to 140 kph! The storm was named UGO. Also, a volcano had erupted in Iceland creating havoc with flights which ended up lasting a week.
We ventured out for supper, going back to the Nesbitt Arms. Mike had Hot Pot and I had spinach and ricotta cannelloni. On the TV was the broadcast of President Obama's visit to Dublin.
The rain and wind subsided somewhat after supper, so we decided to try to go back to Tramore Beach. This time we had better luck. We were now able to walk out onto the beach without sand in our face. The wind was still very strong, pushing the water back onto the shore even as the tide was going out. We found the rocks where we think the spanish ship beached and got some photos. The sun was out for a bit.
We then drove back to the Dolmen Centre. We could see the dolmen in the middle of the field, but it was in a bog field and no path on the one side of the church it was behind. We went to the other side of the church and found a path, but it started to rain. We tried to wait out the rain, but it didn't want to stop so we headed back to our B&B.
We left Inis Failin on Tuesday morning after spending 3 nights there. Bernadette has a 3 night special of €80 pp. We enjoyed it there. The family was very friendly. We left around 8:30 and were heading to Derry. But first we decided to give the Dolmen one last try. This time we were successful. We found the right path which started between the church and a house. When we got up to the path a big black dog came to meet us. After saying hello, he proceeded to guide us up to the Dolmen. He knew exactly where we were heading! He decided since he showed us the way, we should play with him. He found a big rock and wanted me to throw it for him to catch. So I did, in between taking photos of the dolmen. The sun was shining and there were some white clouds in the sky. But then, looking west we could see some darker clouds coming. We decided to head back to the car. But we had only gone a few steps when the skies opened up. It rained and then hailed all in the few minutes it took us to run to the car. Our pants were soaked and now we had a 2 hour drive to Derry! We put the heat up high and hoped it would help.
By the time we reached Derry, we were mostly dry. We found some indoor parking and then walked to the walled city. Our destination was the Tower Museum. It has a display of artifacts found from one of the Spanish Armada ships. Mike was disappointed when told that photography was not allowed, but when we went in, we found that everything was kept in very low light so photos wouldn't have turned out very well,anyway. But the exhibit was interesting and worth going to.
Then we decided to walk over to see the Murals in Bogside. While we were there, it started to rain again, so we headed back and found a little diner to have lunch in. After a hamburger, it had stopped raining so we went back and took a few photos of the murals before heading back to our car.
Back in County Donegal, we stopped at Grainan of Aileach, a large stone fort. It was way up on a hill overlooking Lough Swilly. It was a great view! I'm glad we stopped.
We continued on down until we got to Lough Eske, where our next B&B was located. We were staying one night at The Arches B&B. It was a large place and our window overlooked the lough. The Bluestack mountains were beside. We were only a few minutes away from Donegal Town so that is where we went for supper. After looking at a few places, we chose the Harbour Restaurant. I had seafood chowder and Mike had the early bird special of lasagna. For dessert, I had chocolate pudding with Belgian chocolate sauce and ice cream. It was absolutely delicious! €29.90