Monday 11 August 2014

Ireland, part 2

When I spoke to the owner of the cottage, she said, go into the village, turn left at the bicycle and you are the 8th house on the left. I love directions like that.
It turned out that bikes had quite a significance on the holiday. My holiday companions are all regular and accomplished cyclists, and they took the decision to hire bikes. I ended up doing 35 miles up and down the mountains.  I brought up the rear by a long way, but it felt like a major accomplishment nonetheless. It was a stunning ride.
The uphill slope was called Granny. A wolf in sheep's clothing!
My favourite bit was the thrilling downhill ride into Ardara, and along the sand banks of the estuary.
Ghost houses pepper the landscape. I love these old houses and what they represent of the old way of life. All over the hillside you see piles of peat drying, ready to be burned. In the air, everywhere, the smell of peat fires.

The water is black from the rain which runs down the peat soil off the mountains. The rivers with their black water and white froth, reminded me of a pint of Guiness. Beautiful and so fitting.

The landscape seems to sweep away all thoughts, instilling a great calm and leaving the mind empty, so you can just be. It's like a meditation.
The folk village at Glencolmcille, where there are reconstructions of cottages through the ages, showing the everyday life of villagers from 1700 onwards. This little corner of Ireland is designated as Gaeltacht, which denotes an area where Gaelic is the main language spoken. The Irish are rightly proud of their language, culture and legacy and are working to preserve it. In Glencolmcille, there is a school where people come from all over the world to learn Gaelic.
Religion still plays a big role in Ireland. This village was the brainchild of a priest, whose mission became to try to fight the desperate poverty, to help the hungry and the homeless by giving them some employment and something to work towards and believe in, at a difficult time in Irish history. Although not religious myself, that seems to me to be a man and a mission to admire.

The people of Co Donegal want tourism, they want people to go and visit and discover their heritage, because that is what will help to keep it alive. If you ever fancy it, I recommend it wholeheartedly.


Helga said...

Biking is certainly a great way to really enjoy the scenery and get about. Good for yer arse, too!
It's all so lush and green and MOIST. What was the food like?!

Curtise said...

Your directions to your cottage sound rather like "second star on the right, and straight on till morning"! And you went HOW far on your bike? My goodness, Tania, I am mightily impressed!
Your descriptions of Donegal, the ghost houses, the smell of the peat, and the rivers like Guiness, are suitably poetic - it must be your Irish family history, you've inherited the gift of the gab! And such great photos, as always. It looks like a wonderful trip, soothing to the soul.
Slainte! xxxx

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Seeing these pictures makes me realize why I am so excited to see Ireland someday :)

Vix said...

That's the kind of religion I can admire, one that actually helps people (and has some groovy statuary!)
What great directions to the cottage. Well done on the bike ride, i think I'd resemble a granny if I cycled 35 miles! xxxx

Anonymous said...

That is one epic bike ride. Well done you for managing it in the heat. Seriously!
Love the folk village and its history.
Def adding Donegal to my ( long) list thanks to your beautiful photos capturing it xx

Anonymous said...

Cad is saeire alainn ! :)) xx

Krista said...

My folks biked all over Europe when I was a kid, I remember looking at the photos and thinking what a perfect way to explore a place and really meet its people. I think the old abandoned homes are a reminder of simpler yet harder times, don't we all long for a bit of the past.
Your description of the river to Guiness was spot on, I can see it in my mind. What a wonderful holiday, you do know how to take them!

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Oh now you've done it, I'm tearing up at the story behind Glencolmcille. I want to pack my suitcase and rent a cottage there pronto! What a beautiful part of the world and yes, grannies certainly ARE sheep in wolves clothing so it's an appropriate name for a sneaky hill climb. xoxox

Vronni's Style Meanderings said...

Just found your blog via Miss Magpies Musings (I like it very much) and I know this comment is late - by more than a year! I retired in 2014 and bought a mobile home in Dunkineely, Co.Donegal, - half way between Killybegs and Ardara. It's the most wonderful part of the world isn't it? My family are from Leitrim and Offaly originally, and I have lots of relatives in Sligo.

I missed the heat wave in July 2014 by a couple of days, stayed in Ireland for 5 further weeks and had shit weather! But you don't go to Ireland for the weather, now do you? I know Donegal needs tourists but I think its charm lies in it being so untouristy, it's a dilemma isn't it?

I stayed in Ireland for 6 weeks this summer and we went on the boat trip from Donegal town that you mentioned a relative of yours runs, and it was lovely - we saw seals basking (no sun though)! We also saw dolphins at Fintragh beach which is just past Killybegs town.

Your photos of Donegal are beautiful!

Warmest regards

Veronica (I've just started blogging too!