Incredible Donegal

Boy, we sure do know how to squeeze out the most from a day!  Our hostess made it clear to us that she would serve us breakfast at any time during the morning.  We needed a bit of a sleep in so that was welcomed.  When we finally made the quick walk from our room to the main house, Paula and Robert (the dog) greeted us warmly.  Paula make one killer breakfast!  We enjoyed fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, bacon, coffee and toast.  She also mixes her own granola that is addictive.  

Paula is such a conversationalist.  She knows the area like the back of her hand and was quick to loan us a map with her favorite places highlighted.  I had done a little research before we left for Ireland, but other than a couple “must do’s” we were prepared to be flexible in case of inclement weather.  We enjoyed the hospitality and did not even leave The Green Gate until after noon.  We had first intended to visited the Assaranca Waterfall southwest of Ardara.  We thought we were quite well on our way until we looked across an inlet and saw the waterfall on the other side.  Oops.  Rather than backtrack and head around, we changed gears and headed instead toward Kilclooney Dolmen.

Kilclooney Dolmen is not well marked.  To reach it we parked at in a church parking lot and then headed around the church to the left.  My directions indicated that we would walk between the church and a farmhouse.  We saw what looked to be a lightly used path through the grass that took us to a new house, and freshly painted gate.  For all practical purposes, it appeared we’d have to walk through this homeowner’s yard to get to the dolmen.  We could see a warning sign on the other side of the yard and presumed perhaps that was a no trespass sign.

We walked up the road a short distance and then I thought there must be a way to get to that dolmen.  Paula had even mentioned it to us.  We headed back in the direction of the church as we observed a group of hikers coming through the afore mentioned yard toward us.  We asked if they’d been to the dolmen and they were excited to say they had.  Turns out the sign was not a “keep out” sign but just a claim of no responsibility if anyone on the land were injured.  We had to go through several gates and over two stiles.  Cool!  Once the dolmen came into view we had to deal with The Dolmen Guards.  They were not very ferocious and the only delays were caused by my picture taking.

The Kilclooney Dolmen dates to between 4,000 – 3,000 B.C. and is just beautiful.  You can walk all around it without obstruction.  Nearby is a collapsed Dolmen.  It is amazing to me how this large capstone balances so delicately on the portal stones.  There is a backstone on which the cap stone rests with a smaller chocking stone above it.  It is speculated that this chocking stone was put in place to adjust the angel of the capstone.  We felt like real adventurers making our way to that site.  

We were met by attack sheep on our way to the car.  They ran to us shortly before they literally turned tail and ran away from us!

Next we decided to head up the Gweedore Peninsula to check out The Bloody Foreland.  The name is not attributed to some horrific battle, but to the color of the rock that seems red, particularly at sunset.  It was a lovely spot and we were the only folks visiting at that time.  We tramped around for a while before hopping back in the car and review our maps. 

The Bloody Foreland

 The driving had not been taking the time I had thought it would.  Since the day was clear and sunset wouldn’t come for hours, we decided to head toward Horn Head.  This is also on the Wild Atlantic Way just outside of Dunfanaghy.  We approached from the south and did not get the stunning views we would have, had we gone in a counter-clockwise direction.  That being said, we saw plenty!  We stopped and clambered around for a while and even caught a small rainbow skitter across the bay.

That should have been enough for one day but we were so close to Crohy Head.  Before we knew it we were headed down a two track up another narrow, twisting road.  Although we were driving a station wagon, I felt like I was driving an ATV!  We climbed and climbed, passing abandoned homesteads, loads of sheep and beautiful vistas.  It’s recommended to visit Crohy Head at sunset.  I don’t think it’s recommended to take our route at sunset! 

Bill and I so love to explore!  I thank him all the time for not stopping me when I want to head down some strange road.  He is a perfect travel companion.

When we returned to Ardara we decided to have dinner at the Nesbitt Arms Hotel.  I ordered a chicken Caesar salad and Bill ordered the roast beef dinner.  I gave him a little bit of a hard time because the last time he ordered a roast beef sandwich in Ireland, he compared the texture to shoe leather.  Bill said that the potatoes and gravy were excellent.  He left a stack of sliced beef on his plate.  He couldn’t even stab it with a fork.  He told the waiter, “I know if wasn’t the cow’s fault.”

We ended our evening back at the Corner House pub.  There were a couple soloists this night and also a mandolin player.  I sat next to a woman who had moved there from America after having spent several years establishing dual citizenship.  She had come from Alaska and absolutely loves living in Ireland.  Katherine (her name) gave me some tips on what Americans tend to miss in Ireland:  There is no root beer or root beer flavored candies, tortilla shells are also hard to come by.  She told me more than that but alas, I cannot recall.  We headed back to The Green Gate in complete darkness to settle into our cozy bed. 

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