Recently my brother and I got the Foyle Ferry from Magilligan to Greencastle in Donegal on 2 separate occasions and had a great time as we both had our cameras, several hours to explore and no children!! After a very short sailing we arrive in another world, another country (I am not getting into the politics of Ireland, the history of Ireland, the partition of Ireland here). The fact of the matter is we were in Donegal and it’s different and that’s just a fact of life – the distances are in kilometres, the currency is Euros, there’s an Irish Customs office in the harbour… It got us talking about how things will change with Brexit. At the moment we can sit in Northern Ireland at the ferry terminal waiting for the ferry and there are no checks, no staff even and when the ferry arrives we just drive on and drive off on the other side. It is so easy. No one checks my car, no-one checks our ID. What will change? Will we not be able to make a spur of the moment decision to go over the border and go for a walk? Will we have to make sure we all have ID? I am dreading Brexit. There is so much uncertainty.
Anyway this post was not meant to be about Brexit. Is is about a lovely day out in beautiful Donegal. After getting off the ferry you turn left and follow the road as it hugs the coast for a few miles and you end up in the small village of Moville. In Moville you can park the car (there’s a car park down by the shore, with public toilets) and start the coastal path to Greencastle – the path is about 2km.
I love the shore walk because there are lots of little beaches and coves and therefore lots of opportunities to beach comb which is a bit of a hobby of mine – one of my favourite ways to relax is to walk along the beach and have a poke about. There are lots of seating areas along the way and lots of photographic opportunities if you are a keen photographer.
Lunch time for the local birds
We watched this fabulous heron for ages. It was quite close to us as we walked along the beach and it waited patiently for a while and then managed to catch a couple of fish – I could have sat and watched it for hours.
After the shore walk we headed inland. We knew there was a very old graveyard near Moville so we went in search of that. We had read that it was hard to find but we got there quite easily following sat nav on my brother’s phone. We were so glad we went because what a lovely site! It sits on a hill with spectacular views over Lough Foyle. It’s called Cooley Graveyard and there’s a high cross just at the entrance.
Very effective rope and pulley system
Some of the gravestones.
The High Cross
The Skull House
If you are ever in the North West area and have some time to spare or are looking for something new you should call in to the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady. It’s right in the town centre and there are car parks nearby and on street parking outside. Limavady is a busy wee town with some lovely independent shops and cafes. I find the people of Limavady to be friendly and chatty (no I’m not a resident lol).
The Roe Valley Centre us a little gem in the heart of the town. There’s always a free exhibition on and the offer a great range of classes for children, young people and adults. I would love to fit in some leisure courses and am going to make a real effort to try new things.
They have a theatre for music, plays and film too.
I’m going up next week to see the Louise McLean exhibition. Louise is a local willow artist who makes amazing sculptures and baskets. You might have heard of her because she has been on This Morning on ITV and was on RTE’s Craft Master. Anyway I’m looking forward to her new ‘bogland, branches and the beach’ exhibition. I will let you know all about it at a later date.
Here is a link to the Roe Valley Centre website –
We had a wee trip up to Belfast this week. We had intended to have a day on Rathlin Island but the morning ferries were fully booked for both days we wanted to go. I was a bit disappointed as I have never been over before and had our day planned out. Aw well, another time. So a trip to Crumlin Road Gaol (also know as The Crum) was the alternative. What a difference – wild and beautiful Rathlin versus a Victorian prison!
I booked the tickets online the night before. It was very reasonable – a family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children was £22 with an additional £1 booking fee.
The gaol and the courthouse across the road was designed by Charles Lanyon, an English architect who also designed many other buildings in Northern Ireland including the main building in Queens University. He also played a major part in the planning of the splendid Antrim Coast Road. The list of his works throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland is considerable. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Lanyon
I must say the tour was excellent. I wasn’t sure how my boys would find it but both really enjoyed it. The teenager said he thought it might be a bit boring but it wasn’t and he found it really interesting … yeah! Our tour guide, Eoghan, was very good and kept everyone interested with just the right amount to information and detail and was excellent with keeping the children engaged.
We learned so much about the goal from Victorian times right up until it was closed in the 1990’s. We heard about the children incarcerated in the prison in Victorian times, about the prison during the troubles and about the 17 executions that happened there (including the actual execution room) and how Ireland had no executioner so the hangman came over from England and did all the hangings in gaols throughout Ireland.
How many people have looked through this window and longed for freedom …
I also got to Paperchase so my day ended well. I love that shop.
I have dusted off the Fitbit in effort to get more active and fit. It is also in combination with a determined effort to start losing weight. I have become very very overweight and it is making me extremely unhappy. I am the only who can do anything about it. So this morning I went for a walk on the beach and am at 5.5k steps already so onwards and (weight) downwards!
There was a low tide this morning so we got to explore further along beach than usual.
Donegal in the distance.
Like most Northern Ireland mums it’s time to start thinking about the children going back to school in a little over 2 weeks. How time has flown again. When the 8 weeks of summer holidays first start I dream of long hot summer days and evenings at the beach, in the garden and it seems like such a long time we have. Then in the blink of an eye it’s nearly over and the dreams of long hot sunny days and evenings remained that … dreams. As with much of the summer the weather has played havoc with our plans for fun days out so we have just done bits and pieces in between the showers.
Yesterday we had a lovely day in Cushendun (for the second time this summer) which has become one of my favourite places for a day out. My brother and his family came along too so it was nice to spend quality time with them.
Cushendun is a little village on the coast of Co Antrim and most of it is maintained by the National Trust. It is very picturesque so bring a camera. The village was designed by Clough Williams-Ellis who also designed Portmeirion in Wales. Quaint it definitely is.
You can read all about it here:
We started off with a walk to the caves. We parked at the little car park at the beach (the entrance is beside The Corner House tea house). The caves are featured in Game of Thrones so might be recognizable to some readers.
After the caves we spent what felt like hours on the beach. The youngest children splashed about in the sea while we walked, talked and beach combed. It was lovely.
There’s a great little play park in the village at Glenmona House with a few picnic tables and public toilets. We had our picnic there and refreshed we headed along the coast to Kinabane Castle outside Ballycastle. The castle is just a ruin but what a spot!! It has a car park and toilets too. Access is down a long narrow road so be prepared for oncoming cars. There is a car park. The castle is accessed by a set of steps which are numerous and steep but worth the trip (I did feel like I was going to have a heart attack by the time I got back up the steps though – it is VERY steep).
Kinbane Castle with Rathlin Island in the background
The ruins of Kinbane
A Smuggler’s Cave?
I spent a pleasant couple of days in beautiful Donegal with my mum and sons. Donegal was recently voted the coolest place on earth (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/01/donegal-tourism-coolest-place-on-planet-national-geographic), this was not news for us because my family have been going to the same spot in Donegal for over 40 years. The part of Donegal we go to is very remote and not at all touristy. There a number of holiday homes in the area owned and rented by people from all over the world, who like us, have discovered this little piece of heaven on earth. It’s a two and a half hour drive from our home and we stop off at Aldi in Dungloe town to stock up on food for our stay. This is a bit of a treat as there are no Aldi in Northern Ireland as far as I know so it’s somewhere ‘different’ to shop. Dungloe is a vibrant little town with places to eat and a few shops which I will mention in later posts as we didn’t stop this time apart form Aldi. It is also home of the Mary from Dungloe festival ( http://maryfromdungloe.com/ ) and the Daniel O Donnell Visitor Centre ( http://www.danielodonnellvisitorcentre.com/ ) – Daniel is from nearby Kincasslagh. Dungloe has a new hotel which looks lovely and mum and I have promised ourselves a night there before the end of the year http://waterfronthoteldungloe.ie/ (a bit of a change from the caravan we normally stay in).
So we headed away to a place right beside the sea with no electricity so no WIFI and therefore no TV or PlayStation etc etc. Heaven. We only went for one night so the boys didn’t suffer too much from tech withdrawal!!
I took my new camera for the first time so was in heaven trying it out on the wild flowers, the beach etc. We went for walks, skimmed pebbles, talked, read and it was nice just to be together in a peaceful, quiet haven.