The Wild Atlantic Way
I am part of the the Tullamore Camera Club and at the beginning of September we took a club trip to Letterkenny along the Wild Atlantic Way. This was going to be my first weekend trip away with the club and my first trip to Letterkenny, and neither will be my last!!! A few of us carpooled and decided to go via Carrick on Shannon through Sligo and on up to Letterkenny, taking in a few sights along the way.
Friday: Tullamore to Letterkenny
Friday started off fairly dull but we remained hopefull as we took off from Tullamore that morning to head north to Letterkenny. We first stopped off in Carrick on Shannon in The Landmark hotel. I would highly recommend this hotel. We had coffee and scones in the conservatory and it felt like something out of Downton Abbey (helped by the Downton abbey theme song comming on the radio!!!)
After Carrick on Shannon we headed for Glencar waterfall in Leitrim, only 20mins outside of Sligo town. This was on my bucket list for sometime so I was delighted to get the chance to visit. This is a fabulous waterfall and is so easily accessible for everyone compared to some waterfalls. Its not far in from the road and there is a footpath all the way up to the waterfall, and a lovely little tea shop at the entrance to the waterfall. It makes a great stop off for any journey.
As we were leaving Glencar the weather started to get bad so we couldnt make any further photography stops along the way. We did however make a food stop in Yeats Tavern, Drumcliff. A lovely spot to eat some lunch and broke up the journey from Sligo to Letterkenny. We arrived in Letterkenny that evening and met with our fellow Club members for dinner. We stayed in the Mount Errigal hotel, which I would highly recommend. We ate in the restaurant and the food was divine, and staff were friendly and helpfull, an excellent base to discover Donegal and the Wild Atlantic Way.
Saturday: Inishowen Peninsula and Malin Head
On Saturday, after a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we headed for the Inishowen Peninsula and Malin head. The weather was looking dull but the forecast looked good for the afternoon so we remained hopeful.
Our first stop on the peninsula was at Grianan of Aileach, which sits on a hilltop above the village of Burt. Grianan of Aileach is a ringfort thought to be from the 6th/7th century. The views from the fort are fantastic, you can see a full 360° with Lough Swilly to the front and the hills around Derry to the back.
After the fort we headed up the peninsula passing through Buncrana, Dunree Head and stopped at the top of the Mamore Gap.
After navigating down the twisty narrow road of the Mamore gap we then headed for Doagh Famine Village outside Ballyliffin. I Would highly recommend stopping off at the famine village. It sits looking over a beautiful golden sandy beach, and there is so much history of the area and the families that lived there up until 1984. There is a guided tour of the village where you hear stories of the area and how the inhabitants lived such a simply life and lived off the land and sea. You are told old folklore stories and the origins of some of our well known phrases and traditions. During the tour you get to sample some poitín in one of the many síbíns that were in the area and learn about the residents being “away with the fairies”. After wetting your whistle with some poitín you then visit a wake and learn about the tradition of waking the dead for 3 days! you then walk through the famine times and see the horrors of the potato blight and the evictions. There is also an exhibition on the troubles in Northern Ireland. After the guided tour you are then free to wander around the village and take it all in, in your own time. It really is a tour like no other! It was so informative and so enjoyable. There is also a lovely coffee shop newly build in the carpark, where you can enjoy tea/coffee and a scone before or after your tour, all included in the price of your ticket!!!
After the famine village we then headed straight for Malin head, along more of the wild atlantic way. Malin head is another fabulous spot. I would love have spent longer up there exploring more of the area and i will definitely be back up there. I also had the best coffee and brownie at Malin Head! A long way to go for it but so worth it, and what made it all the better was the weather cleared as we arrived at Malin head with hardly a breeze.
Sunday: The return journey
Sunday again was looking dull, we had originally planned to head towards Slieve League on the way back but we decided with the weather against us and a long drive ahead that we would be best to leave it for another time. Instead we headed for Mullaghmore in Sligo, stopping off at Rossnowlagh beach along the way.
Rossnowlagh is a lovely beach along the Donegal coastline. A beautiful sandy beach which seamed to be a hotspot for surfers.
After Rossnowlagh we headed for Mullaghmore, which is a lovely little fishing village not far for Bundoran. One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Mullaghmore was to get the iconic picture of Classiebawn castle. Classiebawn castle is famous for being the home of Prince Charles’s uncle Lord Mountbatten. The castle sits overlooking the Atlantic ocean with Ben Bulbin in the background. Unfortunately on the day the cloud was low so Ben Bulbin wasn’t as distinctive as i hoped, but it’s still a fabulous location and on a clear day the shots would be amazing.
We finished off our trip in strandhill. The waves were quiet so not many surfers out that day, but we still got to snap a few riding the waves. We had a lovely dinner in the Strand pup, which was such a lovely spot to eat, real old Irish charm with flagstone floors and low beams and little nooks to hide away in, it was the perfect way to end our weekend trip.
I can’t wait to do more of the Wild Atlantic Way, especially Donegal. It is such a beautiful county with so much to offer so i will definitely return to see more in the spring time.