My Travel Map

My Travel Map

04 September 2008

Ireland: Counties Sligo and Donegal

This picture is totally out of place, but I wanted to start out with a good one. So on this day, we drove from Galway city to Derry in N. Ireland, but we decided to take a little bit of a roundabout route (see map in previous post) to explore a bit of County Donegal, which is famous for its beauty. At this point though, we were well aware that practically the whole island is famous for its beauty, but we just didn't want to miss out on this, especially since Donegal is the birthplace of my now infamous patchwork cap.

This was actually taken in county Sligo. We pulled off to see a waterfall shortly after the town of Drumcliffe. The body of water is Glencar Lough, which sits beautifully between the tree-lined slopes of the Dartry Mountains. It was a beautiful setting. The waterfall was nice too!

We zipped pretty quickly through County Sligo and up into Donegal. When we got into Donegal town, we were expecting to stop for lunch, but were met by some heavily armed military personnel (and I do mean heavily armed...these guys had fully automatic assault rifles) in the town-square, which seemed lovely. We were quite intimidated and figured there must be something special or dangerous going on and just passed through. It seemed like a nice town though! Anyway, we ended up stopping at this beach slightly west of town to picnic.

Looking west along the Donegal coastline.

After our disappointing day at the Cliffs of Moher and our unfortunate bit of luck with the cliffs in County Kerry, we really wanted to see some of Ireland's famous west-coast cliffs in full sun. Donegal happens to have reputedly the highest cliffs in Europe! It just turns out they were hard to find...we knew where they were, but couldn't find the road (turnoff really) to get to them! Anyway, these cliffs lie on the southernmost peninsula in the county, almost at the very tip. We ended up driving around their backside, which were still scenic, but not what we wanted, through a very country-side setting with a lot, and I mean a lot, of peat extraction by the locals. We drove out to the very tip, to a small community called Malinbeg, and found this little gem. This beach was boxed in on three sides by these cliffs...and though the pictures do little justice, this beach is one of the most beautiful I've seen thanks to this setting.

A steep staircase takes visitors down to the sand. It's a huge strip and walking around you are surrounded on three sides by steep, emerald green cliffsides with the odd crags sticking out here and there, and on the remaining side by the beautifully blue (when fully sunlit) North Atlantic Ocean. There is even a waterfall! Truly amazing setting.

And don't forget the sheep...they were all over the cliff-tops too.

Anyway, we finally found the turnout (on the other side of the cliffs from where we started), and here they are. The Bunglass Cliffs shoot up over 600 meters from the ocean below...3 times the height of the Cliffs of Moher. From up there, the ocean below seems unbelievably distant and leaves one with the false sense that you are too high and too far separated from the waves below for anything to go wrong...weird feeling. Anyway, once again, these pictures don't do justice to the real setting...but they will have to do until you see them yourselves.

A "road" brings you quite a ways up the cliffs. It was pretty sketchy at times since they apparently don't believe in guardrails...or two lanes...or warning signs.

Visitors can hike all the way around to the top of the cliffs....actually they can go all the way around to Malinbeg if they really want (we saw a couple returning from such a hike while we were lounging on the beach). Missy and I hiked part of the way up, but were forced to turn back due to time. At least we finally got to see some cliffs in pleasant weather though!

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