Ireland 2015, Day 6: Westport

I love sleeping late. Love it. Even in Ireand. We didn’t even go down for breakfast until nearly 9 and then spent time walking through the shops in Donegal. 

Before heading out of town we stopped for a latte at a wee tea room. Caffeine wasn’t our only coffee shop priority. We needed wifi to get in touch with our fabulous friends at the Adelphi again. Nicola was very kind to have a shirt and jacket we left sent ahead to Dingle for us. 

We’re all feeling very relaxed despite covering a lot of ground working our way from Dublin, up the east coast, through the North and Northwest in just six days. I certainly have developed a love for the north. Antrim is stunning and Donegal is remote and wild. There were long sections that were trickier than normal to navigate as the signs were only in Gaelic. 

Tonight we’ve landed in Westport, Co. Mayo. I’m writing from the back room of Matt Molloy’s pub in the center of town. Molloy is the flutist for the Chieftans and every guide book (and our B&B keeper) said this is the place to be for trad (traditional) music. It shouldn’t start for an hour or so and we’re resting and hiding from the rain. 

       A few other highlights:

  • Lovely drive though Mullaghmore’s country side. My history-loving husband was enamored by a castle on a hill. Turns out it was most recently the home of the ill-fated Lord Mountbatten. Stunning from a distance, but still closed to the public.
  • Sligo! Busy city, home of Yeats. We just did a drive through.
  • Tubbercurry for lunch at a small, lovely hotel.
  • Foxford Woolen Mills shop in Foxford.
  • Exploring Westport! 
  • Talking to a local jeweler about the Claddagh ring Scott bought me in Connemara several years ago. Turns out that it is very rare because the center heart is carved from Connemara marble, which I did not know is rather difficult to do.
  • Dinner with the family at Wyatt’s Hotel. Delish.
  • Checking in to our B&B, Willow Lodge, which is fantastic. More on that tomorrow.

   

    


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Ireland 2015, Day 5: Ardara, Donegal town

The mist was thick over the bay when we woke up Thursday morning. At least at Rockhaven House we were warm and dry. 

I rely on Trip Advisor for our B&B bookings and it hasn’t steered us wrong yet. Rockhaven was spotlessly clean, comfortable and cheerful. We loved meeting Heather and her husband. Check out the lovely views from their home!

  
    We enjoyed walking around Dunfanaghy before heading out of town again on the Wild Atlantic Way. The first town we visited was lovely Ardara, a stunning village know for its history in the weaving tradition. 

First stop in Ardara was lunch at Nancy’s Bar which was an absolutely precious pub with a fenced in garden in the back. We also visited weaver Eddie Doherty‘s shop and got to watch him handweaving on the loom. 

     

We spent the rest of the afternoon driving to some of the great view points along County Donegal, including Slieve League, the highest sea cliffs in Europe. They were equally parts stunning and terrifying. All of the views today were incredible and among the prettiest any of us had seen in Ireland.

   

 Our final stop was Abbey Hotel in Donegal Town. The hotel and our rooms are lovely with old almost antique-looking furniture. After getting checked in we walked to the Olde Castle Bar for dinner, took a walk and went to hear the music at the Reel Inn

   
  

 

Ireland 2015, Day 4: Bushmills and Dunfanaghy

Day 4! I need time to slow down, especially now that I am starting to feel like myself again. 

We were greeted with another bright morning in County Antrim and put our last few hours in Northern Ireland to good use. We stopped by Dunluce Castle again to give Scott an opportunity to properly look around and explore. I picked up some treats for our little nieces (Wee nieces! Everyone says wee here. Am adding it to my vocabulary now.) at the gift shop. 

Next stop was Bushmills Distillery. Scott LOVED it. The tour was very interesting and definitely gave me a new appreciation for Irish whiskey. The first distillery license granted to Bushmills was in 1608. All Bushmills whiskey is made at Bushmills, triple-distilled and aged from one-to-five years. Bushmills uses madiera, sherry and bourbon barrels for aging its whiskey. All the bourbon barrels are from Jim Beam. Lucky Scott got to enjoy triple samples as Mom doesn’t care for whiskey and I don’t care for drinking it straight. We also got to take a few minutes and FaceTime with Brooke, Houston, Jackson and Lucy! Scott was excited to show Houston part of Bushmills. 

Somehow I feel like it is very appropriate that my father’s family descends from a land of giants and whiskey. 🍀💗

We hit the road to County Donegal after the tour, taking us from the Causeway Coastal Route to the Wild Atlantic Way as we traveled from Antrim to Letterkenny to Dunfanaghy, a small town by the sea. Our first stop in Dunfanaghy was lunch at Muck n’ Muffins — muck for the pottery shop downstairs, muffins for the delicious cafe upstairs. I got vegetable soup, Scott and mom had ham and Brie sandwiches. Delicious meal. Scott got us a beautiful piece of pottery to take home.

   
    Our family checked in to Rockhaven B&B for the night. The rooms are all en suite, very, very nice and incredibly clean and the view from the sitting areas and dining room is beautiful.

B&B proprietor Heather greeted us very warmly and gave us suggestions about dinner and what to do. 

After walking around town we spent some time exploring the area around Dunfanaghy. My favorite part was probably my close encounter with these guys…

   
   We decided to drive up to the famous Horn Head after we checked in. The scenery at Horn Head and the north of Ireland feels different from other parts of the country. Different, but not at all in a bad way. Our favorite guide book calls Donegal’s landscape dramatic and I think that’s fair. Our view switched from rocky to forestland to mountains to rolling green hills in the span of an hour’s drive. 

Horn Head is famous for its views and 600-foot drop to the Atlantic. Today we could only see a few heather-covered yards in front of us. A thick mist was rolling in over the hills. Really, a rolling most.  Mom aptly called it “Jane Eyre-esque.” 

  

We stopped at the Oyster Bar and enjoyed some awesome traditional Irish music and drinks before heading over to the restaurant at Arnold’s Hotel for dinner. Great food and at 9:30 … More traditional Irish music. Such a good day.