We're just back from a really special four days in the most beautiful Irish county of Donegal. I hadn't really ever spent any time in Donegal before but since we decided to stay local for the summer, we though we'd take a trip up there for a break.
The weather wasn't massively kind to us (a bit wet and a lot windy), but we made the best of it each day. I think the locals are used to the weather being temperamental and just get on with it. So we did too.
We booked to stay at a cottage that we found on Under The Thatch. When the description said it was in a remote area it wasn't kidding around! As we drove up through the mountains, following the email directions, the roads just kept getting smaller and smaller. Finally we arrived at the most beautiful renovated stone cottage, with just a field of donkeys beside to keep an eye on us.
The cottage itself was exactly what we were after: cozy and secluded. The bonus was that it was finished to a really high standard of decor and was renovated to be very eco-friendly. It blended the really really old stonework so effortlessly with the new, modern interiors. I've watched enough Grand Designs to know that's not always easy to get right. Levi made great pals with Kylie the dog who belongs to cottage owners Keith & Pat. They stopped by to check we were settling in and gave us lots of top tips of things to see and the best beaches to visit. They were really welcoming folk and live just nearby (down the lane) in the most beautiful property I've ever been in. More on that another time...it's pretty special.Lego in the shower? Absolutely, kid.Pat was also kind enough to have a bottle of wine and some locally made soaps waiting for us when we arrived.The windows! The stonework! The log fire! It was all just so beautiful. Dave and I talked a lot about how great it would be to have a home like it when we're old and retired where we could live simply with no fuss. It was a real haven. Every night when Levi was snoring, Dave and I took slobbing out to all kinds of new levels in front of the turf fire (it was chilly up the mountain, actually!) reading & watching movies on the laptop. No TV, wifi or signal was (eventually) quite liberating. No checking phones in between episodes etc - I didn't miss the distraction.
On the first night, we had a wander into Dungloe town and to our bemusement, we happened to arrive on the opening day of the 'Mary From Dungloe' Festival. If you don't know what it is, you haven't watched enough Father Ted. The only way I can describe it is as a community festival/beauty pageant that came about from an old Irish folklore that has nothing to do with beauty or pageants. It attracts people from all over the world and there are even 'Mary's' that come and compete from England and the USA. Odd, but it gave us some entertainment. Our four days in Dungloe went quickly in a succession of eating, playing on the beach, eating some more and crashing out in the cottage. Donegal's beaches have always been raved about and it's only now that I can see why. They are simply stunning. Every turn in the road reveals another stretch of perfect sand, clear water with rock pools and landscape to explore. I've been to lots of beaches around the world, but the ones we visited (despite the weather) in this area are up at the top of my list for sure. So clean and so rugged.
Below are some snaps from our day at Carrickfinn Beach. And beneath is the most amazing beach we stumbled across on Cruit Island, about 20 mins from Dungloe (also the location where our good friends got engaged once upon a time!). If you are considering a trip within Ireland and want to see it in all it's outstanding natural beauty, this part of Donegal will not disappoint.