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A (Very) Rough Guide...
Donegal in General
Member Name: kfingleton
Donegal in General
Date: 04/03/03, updated on 22/05/05 (704 review reads)
Advantages: Finest county in Ireland
Disadvantages: A wee bit out of the way
Some of you may not know where Donegal is (heaven forbid that you?ve never heard of it!). It is situated in the North West of the country and borders Derry and evil Tyrone to the East and little Leitrim to the South. It's only a couple of degrees cooler than Dublin in the summer and so isn't that cold! It also offers some beautiful Atlantic beaches, fishing villages, vibrant inland towns and wonderful rural and coastal drives.
First thing you'll need to get to Donegal is a car. The public transport infrastructure is awful (trains, what trains?) but the roads aren't that bad, well, not extremely bad. The signposts can be a little confusing with Ireland?s lovely mix of European future and British past linked through the fact that signposts can be in kilometres or in miles. The roads can meander, twist and turn so bring a decent map with you too, lest you want to go and get yourself lost. Getting lost is sometimes a hell of a lot of fun in Donegal, as it happens. Also bring clothes for all weathers, 'cos you never know what you are going to get up there, the weather today is not necessarily any indication what it will be like tomorrow or even in five minutes time.
Inishowen is possible the most scenic part of Ireland and the tiny village of Malin, twice winner of the national Tidy Town award, provides a scenic base to explore the North of the county. The Malin Hotel is a small, friendly family hotel and perfect to stay in, certainly now under new management,. From Malin town you
can travel to Ireland's most Northerly point, Malin head, visit the cliffs and ?Hell's Hole? and the beautiful unspoilt Five Fingers beach at Lagg. The waterfall and glorious sandy beach near Clonmany are both gorgeous, though watch out for the midges at the waterfall in summer! Kinnagoe Bay provides a large slice of history with its Spanish Armada shipwreck, while the ancients aren?t too far away at Carndonagh Cross.
Further afield there is night-life aplenty in Buncrana, especially McRory's Bar. In fact there are countless pubs and restaurants throughout the county that offer great service and entertainment. Shopping is catered for at Ballybofey and Letterkenny, but who want's to go shopping anyway?
History is abound all over the county too. There is the Castle and O'Doherty's Keep in Buncrana, the ancient Grianan Aileach fort overlooking Lough Swilly and with views over six Northern Counties on a good day. Glenveagh Castle and its National Park provide those with an interest in both ?colonial? history and natural history with plenty to see and frankly, there are countless other places to visit that I?ve never been to!
Golfing fanatics have some fine course to choose from, including those at Ballyliffin and Buncrana and there are ample hill-walking tracks as well as stables for horse riding. If you need to exercise your drinking wrists you can always head to a sports bar to watch the latest live action on TV.
The capital, Donegal Town has quaint castle ruins and plenty of pubs to be going to. It provides a useful base to explore the more popular areas in the South of the county, of which my knowledge is somewhat lacking. Go anywhere round the county and you?ll find you can catch some folk music being played live in the pubs while the drinks flow. This may have turned somewhat into a clichéd view of Ireland, but it does hold water in Donegal.
For driving the roads may not be super-smooth,
but they are im
proving and the routes you can take on them are often beautiful. Try driving at least some of the Inishowen 100 drive. This offers spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and you can see for miles across to Northern Ireland and even Scotland if you?re lucky.
So many tourists come all the way to Ireland but don't travel that small distance to reach Donegal. So come on! Show a bit of imagination and you will be truly rewarded. In Donegal you can relax and soak in the scenery, enjoy sporting activities like canoeing and horse-riding, have your wild nights out in the pub or go for strolls along the beach. It has something for everyone and that something is pretty damn special.