Holiday in Ireland/Tour Ireland by car – (Part 3)
In earlier instalments I wrote about our time in Larne in Northern Ireland (Part 1) and then our time in Lisnabert in Donegal (Part 2). In this part, Part 3, there is more information and pictures from our wonderful time in Donegal finishing with our trip to Kenmare in County Kerry where we based ourselves for a week.
Within easy striking distance
I think we could easily have stayed longer in Larne and found plenty more to do. The same applies to Donegal. Despite having had a brilliant time we think we only really scratched the surface of what County Donegal has to offer.
There seemed to be any number of places within easy striking distance for us to visit, but before we explored County Donegal we actually headed back into Northern Ireland and to Derry.
Meeting the neighbours
The first task on our first full day there was to step outside and say hello to our neighbours.
Our four legged neighbours were delightful and were no bother at all. Once we had met them we checked out the garden and splendid views over the rolling countryside. It had been getting dark when we arrived the previous night, seeing the outside in daylight made for a pleasant start to the day.
Click any image to open and click/scroll through the picture gallery.
Free Derry Museum
Over the years we have been to a few places that have really highlighted horrors, injustices, and a lack of tolerance. and illustrated all too clearly what can simply and inadequately be described as wrong doing.
We’ve visited Dachau, The Dutch Resistance Museum, the Anne Frank House, The Danish Jewish Museum in Copenhagen, the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, The Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, The Berlin Wall Memorial and others and I have to say sadly that the Free Derry Museum now sits in that group of places that illustrate all too graphically what can happen when things go wrong.
I suppose Northern Ireland and ‘The Troubles’ were part of my everyday lexicon as I grew up in the 1960’s and 70′. Names like The Bogside and Creggan along with the names of the prominent groups and protagonists were part of the nightly news coverage and so it was with great interest that we visited Derry specifically to visit the Free Derry Museum to increase our knowledge and see and understand a different perspective on the events of Bloody Sunday.
It’s not the purpose of this blog to present a political thought piece, but what I would say is that if you ever get the opportunity to visit this museum and you are at all interested in seeing an alternate view of these traumatic events, this is a must see place.
I had never previously thought of some of the issues being framed within a human rights context, looking at it again like that was pretty thought provoking for me.
No room for doubt
The evidence (written, audio and video) is compelling, not only in telling the awful story of Bloody Sunday but also in presenting the backdrop and subsequent cover ups at the highest levels of British Government.
The story pretty much culminates with The Saville Enquiry and the subsequent apology by the British Prime Minister David Cameron. The apology left no room for doubt that what had happened was simply wrong.
A reading of the Wikipedia entry is a good place to start if it’s a subject you are new to.
A thought provoking picture gallery
Click any image to open the picture gallery of some the extraordinary ‘wall art’ located around the sight of the Bloody Sunday incident and the Free Derry Museum
Visiting the Guildhall
We popped into The Guildhall in Derry, as a visit here sort of squared the circle for us.
The Guildhall was used (as an extension of Parliament) when The Saville Enquiry report was published, so a wander around and then a stroll along the Peace Bridge across the River Foyle seemed a good thing to do.
Click any image to open the picture gallery below.
Fanad Head and Horn Head
The following day was a complete contrast to our time in Derry. We started our day by heading off for Fanad Head.
Fanad is a peninsula on the north coast of County Donegal and with a lighthouse perched on the clifftops. Fanad Head was only an hour or so drive from our accommodation and the coastline there is simply spectacular. Although we didn’t visit the lighthouse we did enjoy a coastal walk.
After Fanad we headed to Horn Head and it would be something of an understatement to say it was just remarkable.
In fact, Pat said it felt like the end of the world and I knew exactly what she meant.
The Horn Head Peninsula lies north of Donegal and a little less than 30 miles from Fanad and a very decent drive.
To be honest it’s beauty and ruggedness alone is enough to draw us back to that area to explore it some more at some future date. On the way to Horn Head we drove on some of the ‘dodgiest’ single track roads I have ever been on (but all good fun … sort of) and stumbled across some stunning locations.
We had enjoyed another excellent day, rounded off with a decent pint of Guinness in Raphoe.
Check out the picture gallery below and you’ll see what I mean.
Fanad and Horn Head picture gallery
Click any image to open a picture gallery.
Last day in County Donegal
Our last full day in Donegal was another really enjoyable day. Weather wise the morning had started a little grey and damp. We had no plans other than to head to the town of Donegal at the mouth of the River Eske and to find and check out the Assancara waterfall, that we had read about whilst doing some online research.
The weather was mixed when we arrived in Donegal. It had only been a half hour drive or so and we enjoyed a wander around the town and a decent coffee and cake.
To be honest the town was smaller than we had expected and although the weather brightened up we didn’t spend as much time there as we had anticipated.
It’s probably worth a mention at this point of the Irish Tourist Information offices.
We called into the office in Donegal, just across from the harbour front, and the level of service, information and help we were given was just outstanding.
This wasn’t the first time I had called into one of these places and each time I had the service was quite brilliant – knowledgeable, professional and welcoming.
Donegal picture gallery
Click on any images below to open the picture gallery of Donegal town.
Assancara waterfall and a pretty beach
The Assancara waterfall couldn’t really be described as over ‘touristy’ but it really is worth checking out.
It is what it is, no one asking for payment, no souvenirs on sale just a beautiful natural site along with a reasonable amount of car parking directly in front of the waterfall.
After leaving the waterfall we found another quiet and empty beach which once again, just like so many other locations we had stumbled on was simply quite lovely.
Click on any of the images below to open the picture gallery.
Killybegs – an unexpected bonus
Although it hadn’t been part of our plan for the day, we made a fairly random decision to head to Killybegs before returning to our accommodation. This meant our route would take us back towards the town of Donegal after we had called to Killybegs.
The weather was lovely, as was wandering along the waterfront at this important fishing port.
I love the colour and activity at places like this, there always seems to be so much to see and photograph. As an aside Killybegs is actually the largest fishing port in Ireland.
Killybegs and its port are located on the south coast of County Donegal some 18 miles or so from Donegal Town.
From doing a little online research I gather that each summer there is an annual street festival that celebrates the fishing as well as involving a traditional ‘Blessing of the Boats’.
The location has a natural deep water harbour that can even accommodate visiting cruise liners. I’d say it’s well worth a stop and with the added bonus of us managing to get a decent ice cream, there was nothing not to like about our visit.
I can only imagine how lively and vibrant it must be in August when the summer festival is held.
Clicking on any image below will open the Killybegs picture gallery
Leaving Donegal and heading for Kenmare
Our time in Donegal had been excellent and I’m sure at some point we will be back. Carnowen cottage had been ideal, but like many other things in life all good things really do come to an end, and it was time for us to head to Kenmare in County Kerry to stay at our third and final accommodation on this trip.
A long drive
It was a lengthy drive probably the best part of 300 miles. It wasn’t a day for sightseeing more a day that was just about taking the most direct route from A to B which is pretty much what we did.
We were packed up and away early on a beautiful chill but crisp Saturday morning.
Our journey took us down through Sligo, in the direction of Galway, Limerick and Kilarney and past signs for many of the places I had visited when I had traveled in Ireland by motorcycle in July.
We stopped in Knock for a coffee and a bite to eat and then made just one more coffee stop before arriving in Kenmare.
To be honest until we stopped at Knock I had been blissfully unaware of the shrine at Knock and its place as a focal point for Catholic pilgrimages.
This fame followed claims of villagers who said they had seen an apparition on the gable wall of a Catholic church around 140 years ago. Additionally and to further put it on the map the town of Knock was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1979 and then by Pope Francis in 2018.
Clicking on any of the images below will open a picture gallery to click or scroll through.
I mentioned in Part 2 that you never really know what your accommodation is like until you get there.
You will know from reading this blog the first two properties we had stayed in had been absolutely ideal and we had been really happy with both of them.
Although we travelled with optimism that our third property would be just as good, we were of course very aware that sometimes it can be better to travel than to arrive.
I had chatted twice on the ‘phone with the owner Gail. This had been to sort out key collection arrangements and timing of arrival and Gail certainly sounded incredibly warm and helpful on the ‘phone.
Our hierarchy of needs was met
I guess many people will be familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s a theory that goes back to Abraham Maslow’s 1943 paper ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’ … add the need for a good Wi-Fi signal to that triangle and it was clear on arrival at Millfield that our hierarchy of needs on this trip had been more than met.
I don’t think Gail and her husband Dennis could have given us a warmer welcome. They were so friendly and warm it really was a delight for us to arrive at their property. It had been good to travel and just as good to arrive.
They took time out to show us around and make sure we knew how to work the heating, TV and so on and of course to make sure we had the all important Wi-Fi password.
So did the property meet our expectations?
Well the answer to that question is a resounding yes.
We absolutely loved our stay at Millfield in Kenmare. It’s such an ideal location for a driving, motorcycling, site seeing, touring type of holiday and the property really did have everything that we needed as well as a generous ‘welcome basket’ and probably the most comprehensive collection of tourist information you could imagine.
A look through the picture gallery below will give you an idea of the property in Kenmare.
Millfield picture gallery
Clicking any image will open a picture gallery that can be clicked or scrolled through.
Coming next …
Don’t forget to check the next post in this Holiday Ireland/Tour Ireland series. Part 4 has more information about our stay at Millfield in Kenmare as well as information and pictures on some magical days out, featuring visits to Gleninchaquin Park, Dingle, the Ring of Beara and the Healy Pass.
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