Sunday 8 December 2013

Donegal Castle and Out and About in Donegal

Even in chilly late November a trip to Donegal in the west of Ireland is magical. The loughs and the coast, the valleys and the mountains have a sense of late Autumnal wistfulness. Tower house castles are of particular fascination to any tourist, historian or writer interested in Ireland's history. Donegal is where I spent many childhood holidays. Returning to the area for a four day trip, before continuing to Derry for a fire and light festival to celebrate the historical city's year as 2013 European city of Culture, was to see Donegal with a fresh vision.

We based ourselves in two locations , both beautiful. We stayed, first of all, at Harvey's Point on Lough Eske. It is a pleasant country hotel where the service is fabulous and the rooms comfortable. Our second location was a small hotel, Castle Murray, which looks over the inlet at St John's Point. Castle Murray is well-known for its excellent cuisine and romantic setting. This restaurant 'with rooms' is situated beside a Tower House Keep. The tower is now a ruin but it is atmospherically lit up at night.

I am going to allow the pictures to tell the story, though I shall leave Derry until another time as the city is deserving of its own pictorial story.

Loch Eske where we begin.
Our hotel is visible in the distance.
There are beautiful nature walks here.
Long strands, big skies, bracing waves and a surfer's paradise

Donegal Castle is beautifully restored late medieval tower house
It also has a Jacobean manor house.

The Tower House is beautiful, as if it steps from a fairy-tale.

The Manor House dates from the Plantation era, early 17th C

Inside the Tower

The Great Hall has a Jacobean fireplace

Elegant windows grace this Hall

The castle as it was in medieval times

Portnoo Harbour where I spent my childhood holidays.

The island was reached from a strand when the tide was out.
We made up many adventure stories around this place.

The Bay at Portnoo Harbour.
  Lobster and crab were fished by locals and sold at the harbour.

Occasionally we stayed in the bed and breakfast above.
 Sometimes we rented a cottage for the month of July.
Castle Murray Hotel at St John's Point has a French chef.
Bloody Foreland
 where many ships from The Spanish Armada were wrecked.
Another Tower House Castle. Castle Doe near Sheephaven


Finally, Derry. But this is for another time

Carol McGrath is the author of The Handfasted Wife published by Accent Press and available from amazon as an e book and as a paperback.