Donegal TownThe area known as "The Diamond" in the town center
We experienced a very typical wet Irish day today. It was raining from the time we stepped out of the cottage in the morning until the time we returned (past midnight). A lot of that was nothing more than a mist, but it was just a very wet day. But when you're in a place that gets as much rain as Ireland, there's no way you can let that deter you from seeing what you want to see.
We set this day aside as our time to see some of County Donegal (the northernmost county in the Republic Of Ireland). Donegal is known for its unspoiled natural beauty and heavy "Old-Time-Irish" ways. Donegal is one of the three or four main pockets of "Gaeltachts," which are the areas in Ireland that use the Irish language (sometimes called Gaelic) as a primary language. Unlike the rest of the Republic, almost all the road signs are only in Irish instead of being bilingual. This makes things interesting sometimes as you find yourself translating the names of the towns from the original Irish to the Anglicized version with which we would all be more familiar.
the largest and most prominent of the towns in County Donegal. We toured Donegal Castle which sits right in the middle of town, and then walked around "The Diamond," which is the triangular set of streets that make up the town center. From there, we drove about an hour west to the "can't miss" cliffs of Slieve League. These are the highest marine cliffs in all of Europe, and at about 2,000 feet, they are both impressive and frightening.
I (Ryan) am not easily frightened by treacherous drives along mountain roads and such...I've done my share in many places. However, the ascent up the hills to the cliffs of Slieve League are positively TERRIFYING!! One of the guide books we have been using described the drive as "scary but not dangerous." Well, the have the scary part right, but we would have to disagree with the "not dangerous" part. And Mama Roark, you may want to stop reading at this point.
As the road winds along the cliffs, the vehicle gets closer and closer to the edge. The roadway itself is only one lane wide (and a NARROW lane at that). When you meet another car coming down
2,000 Feet UpRyan at Slieve League -- and yeah....he really is THAT close to the edge.
from the cliffs, both have to give a little to their outside. For the ones on their way up to the top, this means running your outside tires LITERALLY INCHES from a 1,000 + foot drop-off right into the ocean. Kelly was sitting in the passenger side (left side over here) looking straight down at the chilly waters of the Atlantic! We'll just stop right there, because the terror really cannot be adequately described.
All this being said, the views from atop the mountain were worth it all! Even though we had hoped for a sunny day, it still was a wonderful experience. The mist and clouds that hung over the tops of the cliffs gave an eerie feeling, which was pretty neat. Take a look at the photos, and notice the HUGE fishing boat down below that looks like a speck.
Once we made it back down the cliffs alive (which wasn't a guarantee), we headed back into Donegal Town for an evening of authentic Irish music at the Reel Inn. On the way, we stopped in to a Pub / Restaurant for some dinner in the town of Carrick. This is a town that lies within
the Gaeltacht area, so we were hoping to hear some of the locals speaking in Irish. We were not disappointed. We heard some children on the street speaking to one another in Irish, and we heard plenty of it in the restaurant itself. Everyone can also speak English, of course, so the waitress could no doubt tell we were not locals and greeted us in the more familiar English with a fine Irish brogue. Most people do not realize how much of a resurgence the Irish language and the old Irish culture is having here, and it's quite a heartwarming tale when one thinks of how the British were almost successful in eliminating the Irish language altogether.
Back into Donegal town, we had seen a sign out in front of a pub / restaurant earlier in the day that advertised live music and Irish dancers. We arrived early (in true Roark fashion, Kelly says) to get our seats. We snapped a few photos for you, and have also included a brief video of one of the very talented young Irish dancers. The girls were just 9 and 12 years of age, but as you can imagine, they have both
The Town Of CarrickThe little pub / restaurant we at at in the Gaeltacht area. Notice the Irish writing on the wall.
been dancing for several years and are already quite talented.
Another great day here on the Emerald Isle! Thanks for reading.
Celtic tribes arrived on the island between 600-150 B.C. Invasions by Norsemen that began in the late 8th century were finally ended when King Brian BORU defeated the Danes in 1014. English invasions began in the 12th century and set off more than se...more info