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Donegal and Northern Ireland

Having visited the areas of Ireland frequented by Rick Steves, i.e Galway, Dingle, Kenmare, Kensale, and Dublin I was interested is seeing Ireland off the beaten path. Researching posts on this and other graffiti boards I decided to visit Donegal and Northern Ireland in September 2012 and ed travel bases of Ardara (4 days) in Southwest Donegal, Dunfanaghy (4 days) in North Donegal and Bushmills (3 days) in the Antrim area. I found all of these to be wonderful and utilized the economical Flybe airlines for the 50 minute flight from Dublin to Donegal Airport to save the 4 hour drive across the country after a night of transatlantic flying. That airport is tiny but has car rental available with Enterprise. Driving from that airport and over much of Donegal is virtually traffic free and easy for those of us with some anxiety over using the left side of the road. Donegal seems untouched by tourism and is delightful with endless opportunities for hiking and sightseeing. Special destinations for me were Slieve League, Glencolumbkille, the Rock of Doon, Mount Erigal, Horn Head, The Rosguill and Fanad Peninsulas, Glenveigh Park, Grianan Ailligh hill fort and Greencastle for the ferry to Northern Ireland. Bushmills was centrally located to visit Derry, the Antrim coast and Belfast - all an hour or less drive. The Titanic exhibit in Belfast is fantastic and easily worth 3 hours of your time. I found navigation effortless using downloaded maps with the ViewRanger app on my iPad. The Rough Guide to Ireland has lots of great detailed information for these areas. An added bonus was scheduling the trip to coincide with the All Ireland Gaelic Football Match which happened to include the team from Donegal this year. The whole county was alive with flags, jerseys, painted cars and celebrations and there is nothing like watching the match in a pub with the locals. Enjoy!

Posted by
188 posts

Randy, Your report brought back fond memories of a week spent last summer in Killybegs, Donegal. We loved that part of Ireland (and NI too as we frequently wove back and forth across the borders)...especially for it's non-touristy air. The people are warm and friendly and do love their music!

Posted by
1264 posts

Randy, Thanks for your trip report. Our family did a vacation to SW Ireland this past June. My wife and I have talked about a Trip up Donegal way. After reading your trip report, I have started the trip planning process.