Whispering Fairies, Rivers of Beer and elusive Precious Stones

Letterkenny welcomed us with a lot of pouring and incessant rain. This was the very first time on our trip so far that we just had no desire at all to do anything. No sight-seeing, no eating out. Nothing. Null. Nada. The rain and gloomy weather just got to us somehow. We did, however, need a pharmacy, as well as something to eat and drink, so that is why, after checking into our semi-posh hotel, we ventured out into the wetlands. After slish-sloshing into a miniscule shopping mall, seeing nothing, buying nothing, we managed to find the only Catholic cathedral in the county of Donegal, the Cathedral of St. Eunan. Oh, did I say that we had no desire for sight-seeing? Really? We also managed to have lunch at a Brewery Bar, shop at a supermarket and browse in a clothing store. We were also the only ones leaving big puddles of water everywhere! Geez, we were soaking wet. Umbrellas?Useless! It was far too windy. We did intend to go to a pub later in the evening, to listen to some Irish musicians, but after “resting for an hour or two” in a warm bed, that idea was trashed. The next day we simply had breakfast, stayed in bed, ate chocolates, crisps and biscuits for lunch and supper, watched TV. No guilt whatsoever 😛

We felt really good after our do-nothing day, full of energy and blind to all the rain. We had a lot to see and do today. We were heading off to Malin Head, via and via and via… 😉 Our first stop was at the Buncrana Castle, situated at the mouth of the Crana river. It is actually a large manor house, but in the 18th century it was normal to call them castles. It is also a private residence and can only be seen from afar, and through a closed iron gate.

The mouth of the Crana river, which flows into Lough Swilly, one of only three glacial fjords (or sea inlets) in Ireland.

The Crana river, with the six arched Castle Bridge spanning it, holds a lot of salmon and sea trout, which makes it a popular fishing area.

Aah, flowing beer…glug-glug-glug. That was the first thing that came to mind when seeing how brown this river was, which also boasted some teeny-weeny bits of froth on top. The water was amazingly clean and clear, but brown. Looked just like a freshly tapped (slurp) Guinness! Why is it brown though? Peat? Tannins?

When you cross the Castle bridge, to the right of the manor house is the wonderfully serene Swan Park. No, no swans. It was named after Henry P. Swan (Harry) who lived in Buncrana, and was a renowned author, collecter and historian. He donated the park to the citizens of Buncrana. The park is quite small, (if you rush or run, you’re out in fifteen minutes) but sooo beautiful, with the river running right through it, a lot of amazing trees, birds and butterflies, and a wee waterfall or two. The best part though, for that inner child in you, is the magical fairy land. There’s a fairy bed-&-breakfast, a fairy post office, library and a few fairy homes. Did I mention magical? Take your time, explore and feel the calmness of this lovely park. It is worth every slow step you take!

After whispering our farewells to the fairies, we headed northwards, driving along the coast of Lough Swilly, towards Fort Dunree, which also boasts a Military Museum. There’s also some abandoned buidlings nearby which are very interesting, but sort of odd. The views from this part of the coast overlooking the Lough are simply incredible.

This little fella calmly crossed the road in front of us! The one and only time we’ve sighted a ring-necked pheasant on this trip. A pleasant change from seeing so much sheep 🙂

The beautiful countryside, which never ceases to amaze! We made a slight detour, what else, driving “cross country” instead of along the coast, on this very long and lonesome road to see a waterfall. On and on the road goes, without seeming to end, and as usual, no other cars or people anywhere. Did we mention AMAZING?

We’ve arrived! The Glenevin Waterpark in Clonmany. Do not be daunted by having to walk some before you actually see the waterfall. It is not very far away from the entrance, nor is it strenuous. You walk almost entirely on a wooden footbridge, criss-crossing a babbling stream, which is also brown 😀 It also seems as though you’re walking through a canyon, so look up and you will see quite a few goats and sheep chewing grass above your head!! Before you enter the park, to the right of the parking area, you will see an enchanting rose tea-room, with pink and white decor, welcoming you to tea and scones. Unfortunately it was closed when we were there. Oh well, there’s a little shop too, where we bought a well deserved ice-cream!

Okay, so this is the waterfall…the 30 feet splashing bit in the background. Please ignore the silly hands-upper 😛 She is trying to stand in the Pohl-an-eas. Sensing a few ????’s now heehee…Okay, the frothy basin at the base of the waterfall is really called a Pohl-an-eas, which means “fermented pool”, and not that what you might have thought and no, definitely not fermented by the hands-upper’s feet…tsk-tsk 😉

So we’re back on track, that is, back on the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route. Be prepared to make many interesting stops on the way, because it just cannot be helped, or because you suddenly see a long-billed curlew with something unidentifiable in its mouth…

The road to Malin Head, which, being the northerly part of Ireland, is curvy, narrow and goes up, up, up. Definitely not for the weak-hearted. The most northerly point of the island though, is Banba’s Crown, named after a mythical Irish Queen, which can be accessed by car. We drove right up to the tower then walked around. We were pelted with rain and it was very windy, but that only lasted a few minutes, enough to get you soaked tee-hee, but then the sun came out again. Typical! The views from up there are FANTASTIC! The rugged coast, the fields, the Atlantic. Oh, and the air is fresher than anywhere else, either that or our noses were defunct from all those whistling winds. Whatever, stunning, superb, splendid and a must see. What we found cute was the word EIRE on the coast, made with stones.

Traditional 19th century thatched roof cottage

On our way down again, where we passed this cute little traditional 19th century thatched roof cottage.

 

We also stopped at a little pier called Portmore, where we scrambled down to the rocky beach, which had masses of colourful stones, and if you searched properly, you could find quite a few semi-precious stones. Okay, we simply had to try. Somewhere over here is a bling-blingy with our name on it. BUT, as the photos above show, it was like: Ooh, here’s a stone. Creaky-Bend. Oops, wave is coming. Creaky-Jump. Wave is here. CRASH!! Needless to say, we found nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

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