Last year, as part of Meitheal (Failte Ireland's Travel Trade Fair,) we took a little trip out to Dingle to explore some of the Wild Atlantic Way. If you want to know what we got up to, you can find out here.
Meitheal 2016 brought us to the northern portion of the Wild Atlantic Way where we saw A LOT of Donegal, and just a smidgen of Sligo.
We departed from Dublin early on in the morning and journeyed towards Donegal. Our first stop...was a bathroom/coffee break and an opportunity to stretch our legs after a long few hours on the bus. Always plan for traffic in Dublin - the ins and out of it all may ruin your schedule.
Our lunch stop at Bells Kitchen in Rathmullan was fantastic! The service was friendly, incredibly fast, and the food was delicious (goats cheese salad highly recommended here!) We took a brief moment to appreciate the views of Lough Swilly afterwards...and spotted a lovely beachside monument which is entitled Flight of the Earls. (Pictured above.)
After being fed, it was time to be watered...our stop at teeny tiny Kinnegar Brewery was brief but we still managed to try most of their fabulous brews! The names alone had us intrigued, so we definitely think you should "Follow The Hops..."
Continuing on with our activity packed first day, we maneuvered our way over to Fanad Lighthouse for a quick tour of their new accommodation. If you're a fan of self-catering holidays and rural seaside locations, this is THE place for you - absolutely charming.
We then fit in more Kinnegar brews in the Lighthouse Tavern up the road after taking some snaps of the breathtaking views before finally heading to Letterkenny for our overnight in the Radisson Blu.
After a week of inclement weather, it was really no surprise to be stuck with more random showers of rain as we visited Glenveagh Castle & Gardens (located in an insanely large and gorgeous National Park nestled in the Derryveagh Mountains.) We took a brief tour through, seeing walls decorated with seashells and warm round rooms once visited by stars such as Greta Garbo. A quick dash into the gardens and a scone later, we were on our way to our next stop.
Time for Lunch! The weather being chilly, the wind a tad bit brisk, we were delighted to be able to enjoy some hot homemade soup at the Slieve League Cultural Centre before braving a portion of the cliff walk...and returning to the centre for a much needed Irish coffee.
After our many strolls, it was time to get a little less active with a quick visit to the Salthill Gardens to meet some of the many people involved with the Donegal Garden Trail. Here, we took a few pictures of the daring flowers on show while exploring the small but charming garden.
As the rain clouds dispersed in the early evening, we headed for our night in Solis Lough Eske Castle and we LOVED it. Coincidentally, we had a group staying there that same night (we're quite fond of it.)
Snow! We awoke to snow! Our surroundings made for one hell of a morning...
Venturing into Donegal Castle for the morning, we were treated to an absolutely brilliant tour, learning plenty about structural updates and hidden stairway escapes...
From there we headed on to Sligo, stopping in Mullaghmore to meet with Auriel Robinson for a fact filled Seatrails walk in Grange, exploring Streedagh Strand. Across the rock filled beach and up the tall sand-hills, these walks aren't for everyone, but there are many options available for heritage walks and even more for further activities such as Kayaking.
For lunch, we headed to Lisadell House & Gardens where, we'll be honest, the tour outshone the food. If you don't know, this house is where Countess Markievicz spent her childhood and where you can learn all about the household's connection to W.B. Yeats - the grounds are beautiful, the gardens plentiful.
While in Yeat's country, we of course had to pay a visit to Drumcliffe Church & Graveyards, to say hello to W.B. himself...before heading to freshen up at our hotel before dining in town.
For the evening, we settled in at the Coach Lane Restaurant. Being our only night out of a hotel on our short trip, we made the most of it. The food was perfect (best steak of the journey,) the drink was plentiful, and we were treated to some delightful traditional tunes afterwards in the bar.
We eventually made it back to the Sligo Park Hotel for a good night's rest.
AKA Strandhill Half Day Adventure!
On our last day of our W.A.W adventure, we had some more chilly weather and satisfying views to squeeze into the itinerary.
We all successfully dodged the crashing waves...we swear.
Being such a large group of operators, only a few of us actually got to experience the Voya Seaweed Baths - but we all saw what was involved and really want to return for a bit of a detox.
In the late morning, we met up yet again with Auriel of Seatrails to explore Shelly Valley via more sand-hills. This time around was a little easier with an actual path to help with navigation, but boy oh boy was it a cold one!
After freezing our arses off, we headed to The Strand Bar & Restaurant for one hell of a delicious lunch in a lovely setting - complete with an older gentleman sat by the fire with the paper and a Guinness. It truly was the perfect ending for our long weekend. Despite having a great time, we were glad to head back to Dublin!
We returned with plenty of time to prepare for our Meitheal welcome night at the Merry Ploughboy Pub.