We awoke to drizzle at our parking spot behind the Singing Pub so there is one thing for it, we go with the s recommendation of the barman and head to McNutts in Downings for a proper Irish breakfast, 2 large breakfast baps containing a whole breakfast with white pudding and coffees overlooking the harbour soon sorted us out!
We are heading down to Donegal town but on the way we stopped for a few hours in Letterkenny to meet Sheila whom we first met in Potsdam on our previous European Tour 2018, caught up on her travels as she spends her time between Ireland & Spain, after scones, jam and tea we said goodbye with plans to meet in Spain one day and set off for our evening drive,
arriving in Donegal town harbour and abbey car park where we joined several other motorhomes for the night.
Dave popped out the next morning to get an all-day parking ticket, great value at €2.70! The car park also housed a tourist info centre so we availed ourselves of several maps and made our way the few metres to the ruined abbey at the edge of the harbour founded in 1474, then it was turned in to a fortress in 1601, there wasn’t much left of it but we walked around the graveyard which itself was pretty ancient, one grave was dated 1740! We think there were older ones, but we couldn’t read the words.
Deciding to skip paying to go into the castle as we’re being budget conscious, we walked through town and came across a famine graveyard it stated that countless people, yes countless ?! were buried here between 1845 and 1848, it was a bleak spot, just 1 small plaque, no headstones or list of names, it was a plot of land without any markings as its unknown who was buried there, there was a huge iron or copper famine pot said to have fed 800 people a day ironically donated by the English government! Pity there wasn’t more help given at the time before it got to that stage, we felt very uncomfortable here, I had to read up a little on the famine and between 1845 and 1851 the years of the great famine there had been a surge in population from 2.6m to 8.5m by 1845, a blight from an unknown fungal disease hit the potato crops, this was a staple food for the poor and peasants 80% of whom worked on the land mostly owned by English Landlords and run by Irish middlemen for very low wages or no wages at all, just a patch of land given to grow their own potatoes and with only the potato for sustenance, food was plentiful for those who could afford it, whilst many starved Ireland was exporting meat and grains in large quantities mostly to Britain.
It was the most populated place in Europe between 1845 and 1849 and as 3 out of 4 consecutive seasons of crops failed starvation spread, dysentery, typhus and cholera were rife and 1 million died of hunger or disease and more than 1 million emigrated to the USA, the irony being that the irish poor had been better nourished than other European countries as the potato diet was rich in vitamins and minerals.
Heading south from Donegal we followed the WAW passing through several coastal villages and stopping for a nice walk at Murvagh beach, it was only a stroll but a nice breath of fresh air
Back on the road we drove past Ballyshannon taking in Bundorran cliffs, it was a great road trip with some austere and dramatic headland to see along the way, In our opinion Ireland, both Northern and the Republic is the cleanest most well-kept place we have ever seen! The pride in the houses, all freshly painted, lawns and gardens plain but tidy, the churches are quite literally spotless, fresh paint, flower pots, no crumbling walls or rotting window frames here! The graveyards are spotless and so well-kept, I asked a local in the pub about the immaculate graveyards and what drives generations of people to maintain them, his answer was ‘’fear and redemption’’! but I think there is a lot of pride too.
Arriving at Mullaghmore a small peninsular and harbour which dramatically juts out at Sligos north-westerly edge, we plan to stay here tonight but no sooner do we arrive then so does storm Ali!
Oh, my goodness it was rough, Pogo was rocking from side to side the bike rack cover flapping like crazy, the wind was literally whipping under the window frame and leaking inside on the frame, the skylight previously fixed by Dave also allowed a tiny bit of water in! Dave braved the elements and went to see where else we could park, he came back and said the pier head hotel will let us park in their car park for €10, well beggars can’t be choosers! We moved into a more sheltered spot for the night, it was still a bit rough but nowhere as bad as the harbour.
Early next morning we donned our warm weather gear! And headed away from the harbour for a 3.5 miles loop of Mullaghmore head, the views were outstanding and the best we have seen yet, dramatic drops to the ocean with many warning signs not to get too near the edge, the sounds of the waves crashing heard easily over the strong breeze. Along the way there were several personal monuments to people who had lost their lives to the sea.
Mullaghmore has waves that attract international surfers, Prowlers are what they come for, 50 foot waves that rival those of places like Hawaii.
In the distance standing fairytale like stood Classiebawn castle with the brooding Monolithic Mountain of Benbulben looking down on it, Classiebawn had once been home to Lord Mountbatten until 1979 until his death at the hands of the IRA when his boat was bombed killing him, his grandson Nicholas and a local boy Paul Maxwell who worked for him on his boats and in the castle.
The sun finally arrived and warmed us for the rest of the walk taking in the Dartry mountain range and casting our eyes far out onto the horizon of the Atlantic Ocean, only the Island of Innishmurray to be seen between us and America.
GPS Singing Pub Downings Co Donegal, free parking N55.20929,W007.81985
The Singing Pub with free parking & services www.thesingingpub.ie
GPS McNutts Coffee House at Downings, breakfast cost 13.90 N55.19145,W007.84416
GPS Donegal Town Car Park, €2.70 for day parking from 9am until 6pm, free after 6pm until 9am, N54.65137,W008.11345
GPS Murvagh Beach, free parking, N54.59591,W008.16299
GPS Mullaghmore, free parking, N54.46637,W008.44847