Wednesday 25 July 2018 Buncrana – Malin Head
- Fort Dunree
- Glenevin Waterfall
- Nancy’s Barn – Ballyliffin
- Doagh Famine Village
- Donagh Cross
First thing this morning we went for a stroll along the walkway of Amazing Grace Park beside Lough Swilly up to Buncrana Pier. It is named after John Stewart who wrote the remarkable story and song ‘Amazing Grace’ when he found a safe haven in Lough Swilly after nearly drowning in a violent storm in the Atlantic Ocean. The park is a beautiful, quite public space with a stunning water feature with ducks, plants and flowers, pathways and benches.
Continuing following the Wild Atlantic Way north, our first stop was Fort Dunree on a rocky promontory at Dunree Head on the Inishowen Peninsula. This fort was originally built as part of a series of fortifications defending Lough Swilly during the Napoleonic Wars. As the fort is built over a natural fissure a ramp connects it to the peninsula. We went for a walk around the area following a path to old buildings which were once part of the fort but are now very dilapidated. From here you can see across the lough the ruins of Knockalla Fort another fortification.
Next, 2 km from the village of Clonmany we stopped to see Glenevin Falls. We walked about 2 km along a path to a spectacular wedge-shaped waterfall cascading fresh mountain water out over black rock from an astounding height of 5m. On the way there is a viewpoint from which you can see the mountains and ocean and Malin Head in the distance. The area is a great place for a picnic as they have tables and seats scattered along the brook leading to the waterfall.
As it was time for lunch we stopped at Nancy’s Barn, Ballyliffin recommended by the tourist guide. it is an old-style barn and serves an award-winning seafood chowder. So, we just had to try it and it was a dish to die for.
Doagh Famine Village on Dough Island, Inishowen was our next stop. We went on a free guided tour of the Famine village which is developed around the home of the guide, Pat Doherty, who lived in one of the thatched cottages with his siblings and parents until 1984. Under his guidance the village was restored and developed to tell a story of Irish life from the Great Famine of the 1840s through until the present day. He took us on a journey explaining how communities had lived on the edge generation after generation, adapting and surviving as the environment and society around them changed. He showed us his cottage and how his family lived and the type of food they ate. We visited Poitin House and heard about the making of illegal moonshine and the effects it had on the community and were given a taste of poitin. We also visited The Irish Wake cottage where we sat on a wooden bench while he explained a typical Irish wake. Other exhibits include original thatched Irish cottages and an eviction scene where tenants who couldn’t pay the rent were thrown out. Pat is very passionate when sharing his stories and he also explained where a lot of sayings developed. It was a very entertaining tour. We then had a cup of tea and coffee with a scone and jam included in the admission price over the road in the café.
On the main Carndonagh-Ballyfin road just outside the town centre is the 7th century Donagh Cross which has stood sentinel over Carndonagh for almost 1500 years. The cross is carved out of a single stone of sandstone and has a simple shape with short arms with unusual decorations. The pillar stones on either side of the cross are covered with figures and other biblical images.
We arrived late in the afternoon to our destination for the night, the Seaview Tavern Malin Head, the most northerly outpost on the Wild Atlantic Way with fantastic views of the Atlantic below.
Thursday 26 July 2018 Malin Head – Derry
This morning we drove to Malin Head and walked the track along the rugged cliffs to Hell’s Hole, a chasm where the tide rolls in and a natural arch called Devil’s bridge. We continued along the track in the opposite direction and climbed to the top where we saw the old radio station, built in 1910 and The Tower, a derelict signal station built in 1805 and used as a news link connecting America and Europe. This area is known as Banaba’s Crown, the most northerly point in Ireland. From here on a clear day apparently you can see the Scottish Hills. It was clear, but we did not see the Scottish Hills.
We continued travelling along the Wild Atlantic Way and 4 km from Malin Head at Bree we stopped to see The Wee House of Malin, a cave where folklore has it that no matter how many people enter it will hold all. The cave is small and inside there are small stones which people have written their names or a message on. On the 15th August there are masses and a community celebration at this site.
Just after lunch we arrived in Derry and found a park for the night at the Park and Ride at the train station on Lough Foyle.
We then walked over into the town centre across the double story bridge and had tapas at Blackbirds, a pub and restaurant.
As we decided to listen to some music later in the evening we walked home, showed, dressed and then returned to Granny Annie’s, a place which has live music 7 nights a week. Tonight, the music was mainly covers of 80s bands. The pub’s decor is absolutely stunning with old pipes as table legs, tyres as basins, spanners as doors handles just to name a few.
Friday 27 July 2018 Derry
We walked into the town centre for the 10 o’clock guided City Walking Tour of Derry. The walk began on the 17th century city walls. Derry is the only completely Walled City in Ireland. The walls have withstood several sieges, one of which in 1688 lasted 105 days and is inspiration of Protestant Apprentice Boys marches today. The views from the top are fantastic. Some of the sights we passed and heard about were the of Derry Association; St Columba’s Cathedral which was built between 1628 and 1633 and various bastions and gates and the First Derry Presbyterian Church, founded in 1690 and replaced by the present building in 1780.
Before our second tour we went in to The Guildhall which was built in 1890. Inside there are stunning stained-glass windows which illustrate the city’s history and an exhibition on The Plantation of Ulster which took place around 1609 by England and Scotland in an attempt to lessen the chances of further rebellion by confiscating native Irish land and giving it to Protestant planters from England and Scotland.
Our second guided walking tour of the day was Bogside History Tour with a person who was directly affected by Bloody Sunday. He took us around the area and presented us with an analysis of the Bloody Sunday story including Derry from 1968 and the birth of the civil rights movement; internment without trial; the background to the march; the day of the march and the killings by the elite British army paratroopers who were deployed specifically on that day to quell the unrest; the Widgery Inquiry and the cover up; the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign and the Saville Inquiry. During the tour we retraced parts of the original march and we visited actual places where the dead and wounded fell. We passed the Museum of Free Derry which tells the story of government oppression, the struggle for civil rights, The Battle of the Bogside, Free Derry and Bloody Sunday and is run by the families of those who died in the Battle of the Bogside. On the outside of the building is the sine curve of the marchers singing the song ‘We shall Overcome’. This was a very comprehensive and sombre tour and gives the perspective of the families and friends who will never give up their quest for justice. British Prime Minister, David Cameron, addressing the House of Commons after the publication of the Saville report on 15 June 2010, described what British soldiers had done as “both unjustified and unjustifiable, it was wrong”.
After the completion of the tour we visited the Tower Museum which through films and displays tells the colourful and dramatic history of the city from early prehistoric to the present. There is also a permanent exhibition on La Trinidad Valencera, an Armada shipwreck which sank in Kinnegoe Bay, County Donegal, in 1588.
Tonight, we returned to find some Irish music at Peadar O’Donnell’s, The Gweedore Bar and it was great. When the band played everyone in the bar sang along. We stayed in carpark for a second night at the train station on Lough Foyle.