Though based in Dublin, Aoife Fitzpatrick has a special relationship with Donegal. She went on a holiday with friends in Ballybofey recently, and we were delighted to hear about her experiences there. We know where we want to go next!
My grandparents lived close by in Stranorlar, so I used to holiday there as a child every year. I hadn’t stayed in that part before, but overall I was familiar with the area and knew that it was a good place to base ourselves for the weekend.
On the first day we drove out to the west coast. We stopped first at Murvagh Beach, which is a beautiful long strand with plenty of space for long walks and playing games. We got in for a quick swim before walking along the beach. Then we continued out to Killybegs and stopped to enjoy the view at Fintra Bay. We carried on to Teelin and climbed Slieve League, the highest sea cliffs in Europe. We headed back to Ballybofey through the Glengesh Pass and Ardara – the views on this part of the journey are amazing!The following day we went to Letterkenny for breakfast and then headed out to Ballyshannon for the Rory Gallagher festival. We spent the day there at various concerts and gigs on the streets and in the pubs. On the way back we stopped for dinner in Donegal town, right by the sea. On both nights we took a taxi into Ballybofey town and visited the local pubs there
Having been around most of Donegal before I knew what to expect in some regards. However, we were very lucky with the weather that weekend – it was bright and sunny, except for a short time while we were at the Rory Gallagher festival, but it didn’t rain, so that was ok! I think most of all I enjoyed our drive on the Saturday out along the west coast. The views across Donegal Bay are beautiful, and we could even see as far as Benbulben in Sligo. And I really enjoyed walking at Slieve League – the area is a nice mix of countryside, mountain, and sea, and we met some other interesting characters out walking too.
Usually, I like to be close enough to a town that we can leave the car behind and enjoy a drink or two in the pub without worrying about how we’ll get home. This house was slightly further out of the town than I realised but it worked out fine – a taxi into the town was easy to find and quite cheap – a lot cheaper than it would be in Dublin! I also like to go somewhere that has lots of outdoor activities and lots of heritage and history, and Donegal has plenty to offer.
I was really impressed by the size and the overall condition and presentation of the house. There was plenty of space and the house looked out over lovely countryside. I also loved the size of the kitchen – there was a big table where we could all sit at mealtimes. There were a few kitchen utensils missing but we were able to do without them.
I really enjoyed the peace and quiet at the house. On Saturday morning, I sat on the front steps with a cup of tea and I could hear sheep and cows out in the fields. It was so tranquil, and I really enjoyed getting out into the fresh air.
Taxi fares were very good value. The journey into the town is only about 10 to 12 minutes by car but you wouldn’t be able to walk it, as the roads are busy main roads. However, it cost us less than €10 each way which meant we could leave the car at home and not worry about getting back to the house. Also, the cost of eating and drinking is a lot lower in Donegal than it is in Dublin. It’s great to go to the bar to buy 4 drinks and get change from €20!
I would definitely recommend Ballybofey to anyone. There’s plenty to do for families and for anyone keen on the outdoors – lots of beaches and forests, walks to do, and mountains to climb. For girly weekends away, there are loads of places to go shopping, like Ballybofey, Donegal town, and Letterkenny; and for couples, there are loads of bars and restaurants and scenic areas for romantic walks. I think it’s a great destination for families, couples, and friends.
Next I’m off to Cong in Mayo for a friend’s wedding. The wedding is on a Sunday so we’re heading down on Friday to make a long weekend of it. It’s a part of the country I’m not very familiar with, so I’m looking forward to it.
Ordinarily I would say Donegal because I have some great childhood memories from that part of the country. But I don’t want to seem biased, so the best place in Ireland I’ve holidayed is Bantry in West Cork. We stayed in the Maritime Hotel which overlooks Bantry Bay. It was the perfect location for exploring the West Cork region. The highlight of our trip was probably venturing out by cable car to Dursey Island. And of course we had some amazing seafood!
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