Ireland 2009, Part Three: The North

After Galway, it was time to head up to dear old Donegal. We stayed at a cozy little B&B just outside of the town, and our hosts were just the prototypical Irish B&B owners. The gentleman owned a store in town that sold all sorts of wool products (we bought new winter hats for the kids and socks for me), and he was more than happy to sit down for a quick pint and a chat. The lady of the house was fully in charge of the place, including all the wonderful cooking we enjoyed for breakfast. I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned the wonders of the “full Irish” breakfast yet: bacon rashers (thick slices of bacon not seen in the US), sausages, eggs, white pudding, black pudding (I am a pudding fan, even if others are grossed out by it), toast, potato, fried tomato, baked beans and sauteed mushrooms. It took me a long time after returning home to adjust to boring old bagels and cereal. Unfortunately, I never did get a good picture of the full Irish, since it seemed rude to bring a camera to table.

Here’s the best view from a B&B that we had our whole trip, the beautiful Lough Eske there, complete with sheep noises drifting across from the neighbors (surprisingly little smell though).

Our cozy room.

Ardeevin Guest House, from the outside.
From Donegal, it’s a short drive over to Northern Ireland and the home of Belleek Pottery and China. Amazingly enough, we managed to keep both kids from breaking anything, though there were a few close calls. After buying a bunch of china (conveniently packaged and shipped to your home direct from the factory store!), we headed down the road to Enniskillen, stronghold of the Maguires, my mother’s side of the family.

Maguire Castle, which we fully expect to inherit one of these days….

The kids particularly enjoyed the Easter themed “duck hunt” the castle ran. They had to find all the ducks hidden in the displays and write down all their names while Lisa and I tried to actually learn something about the ancestors.

One of the many times we stopped for tea, this time at The Sheelin in Ballanaleck. Irish place names are so fun to say. Ballanaleck.

Back in Donegal, we visited the Franciscan Friary ruins. Plenty of “fairy gardening” going on here, much to Ellie’s delight.

Killybegs is a real working fishing town up the coast of Donegal Bay.

We were on our way to see Slieve League and took some pictures along the long hike up the road.

The Giant’s chair and table at the bottom.

Just show this picture to anyone who thinks Ireland just has hills of green. Slieve League is 3 times higher than the Cliffs of Moher, and truly an amazing sight.