Sunday, 17 July 2016

What we did in Ireland

This is pretty much how I was dressed the whole time!!  The weather wasn't kind to us but it didn't stop us enjoying our break.

Our first stop was Enniskillen, in Northern Ireland. This is Castle Coole a National Trust property.  Well worth a visit and free entry for us as we're members.  Nice grounds to explore too.  Then we headed over the border into Ireland to Sligo.  This was our base for 5 nights.  I'd picked a quiet scenic campsite but it had rather basic shower block facilities.  The site itself was rather windy as it was on a headland!  But it suited our needs as it was just a base.

Whilst in Sligo we went kayaking on Lough Gill and stand up paddling on the River Garavogue.  Both these activities we did with an experienced guide.  Expensive but amazing experiences.  We walked up hills, explored ruined abbeys and empty sandy beaches and enjoyed the beautiful scenery all for free.

I ate the biggest plate of seafood I've ever seen at Eithna's by the Sea a fab wee restaurant in Mullaghmore.  This was after the day of kayaking so I felt I'd earned it!!  Lobster, crab and prawns, yummm!

It's been a long held ambition of mine to catch a fish and cook it.  We went mackerel fishing and I caught loads of the wee beauties!  I also caught a pollock! :-)

Again the weather wasn't great.  OH was seasick and I held on to the side of the boat for dear life!!  But it was a great experience.

We then headed north with a quick stop in Donnegal.  We explored the castle and ate in the Olde Castle Bar.  I had the best Irish Lamb Stew I've ever eaten.  It was just delicious and exactly what my dodgy tummy needed. I have to say eating out was relatively easy as most places had menus that identified gluten, dairy, nuts etc.  I was very impressed.

We spent the next 3 nights on the Inishowen peninsula.  The campsite there was very basic and our neighbours were loud drunks.  We tried not to let them annoy us too much.

We went sea kayaking at Lenan Head in what can only be described as 'stormy seas.'  It was tough going but we did get to see some stunning coves, arches and waterfalls that few humans ever get to see.  Thankfully we were with a very experienced guide so it was reasonably safe!

Then we explored an abandoned army camp nearby (free!)  There were no keep out signs or safety warnings.  We scrambled over and in lots of ruined buildings.  Ireland was neutral during WW2 but the British had a few bases on the coast.  A huge gun had been in this spot.  There were 6 of these.

Standing on the roof here you can see the cliffs and bays in the background where we'd just been kayaking.  Don't be fooled by that patch of blue sky!! Look closely at the white waves on the sea!!!

We even went underground and explored the bunkers where the ammunition had been stored.  It was truly fascinating.

I really loved the way that nature was slowly reclaiming the land.  Most of the wooden structures on site had rotted and collapsed and only the brick structures remained.

 Very atmospheric!

Again we felt we'd earned a lovely meal so went to the famous McGrory's and I had yet another seafood platter. Different from the earlier one but every bit as delicious.  I even had a pudding as their menu catered for every allergy concern.

OH and his Teenogre tried some cliff climbing, again with a guide.  I knew I wouldn't be physically up to it so let the boys do their thing.  Afterwards we visited  Fort Dunree another defence base during WW2 but as it has a long history it has been made into a popular tourist attraction.  We preferred the abandoned one as we had more access but it was interesting nonetheless to find out a little more about why this coastline needed defending over the centuries.

We then headed over the border again into Northern Ireland with a quick stop in Derry to see the Maritime festival.  I ate a fab wild boar burger and sweet potato fries followed by a still warm coconut macaroon (not one of those wee fancy French macarons!!) We then spent time in our favourite place Balintoy harbour (one of the Game of Thrones locations!)  OH and his Teenogre went coasteering while I knitted and people watched.

It really is a beautiful place.  Unfortunately it was rather busy due to it being a public holiday but everyone was just enjoying the first dry day in weeks! We ended our holiday by having the best gluten free fish and chips in Ballycastle.

Like most holidays we spent a small fortune on some activities but did lots of free stuff too.  We ate out a couple times but mostly ate simple meals in the campervan.  The weather did affect us but didn't prevent us from doing the things we'd planned.  It would have been nice if the rain had stayed off though!

Next year we might venture into Europe.  I'm voting for the south of France!  At least there will be more chance of seeing some sun!!


  1. What a wonderful holiday, Ali, thank you for sharing the photos. I have never been to anywhere in Ireland apart from Dublin so it's all new to me. Shame about the weather but it's something we can't control. During our 10 days in Northumberland we had awful weather too, where has Summer gone?? Lovely garden produce BTW, our strawberries have been particularly good this year, all down to the rain I expect....

    1. Until last year I'd only ever been to Dublin too. Flew in, flew out. Def recommend Ireland especially along the North and West coasts. Just be prepared for all kinds of weather!

  2. Glad you had a great time - Action woman! lol Envious of the sea fishing, is one thing I would love to do :)

    1. Loved the fishing! We had a whole box of mackerel that sadly we couldn't use. The local lobster guys were able to use them for baiting their pots though. Would love to do it again and fill my freezer with fresh fish!