It has been said that you can never really leave Donegal for good and after the last week I can confirm a little piece of me will always remain there, calling me back. This is a northern country where the mountains, glens, sea cliffs and moors contrast with sinuous blue inlets.
This is a place where Irish culture is nurtured. Once part of the old Irish Kingdom of Ulster, the hilltops are marked by Iron Age forts and historic burial cairns. The Gaeltacht movement is strong here and this is reflected in the road signs.
There many places to experience the beauty of Donegal, one of my favourites was from the top of the Horn Head peninsula. Tory Island was floating like a dream in a silver sea, while a ruined stone croft stood at the lip of the fields sloping steeply to the sea cliffs. Far, far to the north was the northern tip of Ireland – Malin Head.
The ‘Seven Sisters’ mountains of Donegal were spread out before us under a cloudless blue sky. From Muckish to Errigal, these volcanic profile mountains are modestly-sized but none-the-less scenic.
And the beaches! Fine, white sand rims Ards Forest Park, Marblehill Strand and Killahoey Strand. These are all near the cheery seaside town of Dunfanaghy, where you will find a selection of accommodation, cafes and of course pubs.
Cosy and welcoming, from those with extensive facilities to some no bigger than a person’s front room, there’s nothing like a real Irish pub. They were family-friendly too and my favourite was Patsy Dan’s in Dunfanaghy.
Donegal is doubtless beautiful but my guilty reason for longing to return is that I’m desperate for another scoop of the famous Yellow Man honeycomb ice cream.
By Natasha von Geldern