Donegal and a Birthday

 I’ve blogged before about Donegal, possibly my favourite place in Ireland. I’m blessed to have a good friend who lives there and it’s been our holiday destination for many years.  I never tire of the beautiful rugged landscape and the soft light. There are endless unspoilt beaches, cliff walks, wildflowers and gorgeous restaurants. Even though I’ve been visiting for over 10 years, there are still new things to be discovered and it’s an endless joy to explore and experience every part of it.
Swimming in the Atlantic sea is the thing I look forward to most and has to be one of the most invigorating sensations ever.  Those first few steps into the cold water are challenging and taking the plunge to swim can sometimes take a bit of encouragement.  Having a hardy friend who’s well used to it helps to spur me on and believe me, it’s worth it every single time. Once your body acclimatises to the cold, the water starts to feel warm and you get all the benefits of the amazing salty water and natural oils in the sea, not to mention the exfoliating benefits of sand.
The beauty and cleanliness of the beaches is unsurpassed, as well as the variety – from rugged rocky beaches, calm little inlets, to stretches of golden sand, Donegal has it all.
Here are just a few of the beaches local to the Ardara/Killibegs area –

Fintra Beach
Fintra Beach
Fintra Beach Donegal Rocks
Fintra Beach Rocks

Beach at St. John's Point Donegal
St. John's Point Donegal
Magheragh Beach Donegal
Magheragh Beach Donegal

I’m sure you’ll agree they’re pretty spectacular!

This year I had an idea to do a blog about some Donegal craft which is varied and beautiful. However I got slightly sidetracked by trips to the beach and didn’t take as much time to photograph and observe as I had planned.
Fortunately I also had a birthday whilst on holiday and my gifts are a perfect illustration of just some of the fantastic work available locally with the added bonus that I could just sit in the kitchen and take the pictures at my leisure. 
I got 3 lovely gifts from McGonigle Glass which is based in the Craft Village on the outskirts of Donegal town.

McGonigle Glass NecklaceMcGonigle Glass Earrings

The necklaces are 2 different styles, one can be worn short choker style and the other is long and very modern.  I love the creamy white shades because they go with everything and the earrings are a gorgeous translucent blue.
The Craft Village is a wonderful space where you can see the artists at work as well as browsing through their wares and then take a coffee or lunch break at the award winning Aroma CafĂ© .  It is truly inspiring to see original irish craft in this kind of setting.

I also got this lovely little bowl from Mountcharles Pottery,  which is not too far from Donegal town.  

Mountcharles Pottery Bowl

I decided to pay a visit to see more of the work and I was very glad I did because I got to speak with Stephen Nolan who makes the pottery and his lovely wife Shazza who creates gorgeous jewellery and collectible teddy bears. The shop itself is based in what used to be a Doctor's Surgery and it's a great old building with a lot of character. 

Stephen showed me his workshop and his gas fired kiln, made by himself. He explained that the key to the look of his work is in the application of the glaze and the use of the gas kiln.  Each piece is unique with gentle colour variations - I particularly liked the aqua green/blue range which reminded me of the sea but you can also see from the picture above that there are paler shades and a great selection from cups to large salad bowls, ranging from about €10.00 upwards.
After seeing the workshop and kiln, I chatted for a bit with Shazza, Stephen's wife who is multi-talented and the creator of 'Make Way for her Majesty the Queen' sterling silver jewellery. Each piece is made by hand from the highest quality sterling silver and precious stones and is inspired by Medieval, Victorian and Baroque themes. I really liked the quirky style, a little bit 'vintage chic' yet very modern.
Shazza is also the owner of 'The Eccentric Bear Co.' - these are the cutest bears, old-fashioned and completely handmade with 100% mohair and made in the traditional way with fully jointed limbs. (They are collector's items and not suitable for children). Here are some more pictures below courtesy of Shazza and Stephen.

Last but not least I got this gorgeous smelling soap from the Donegal Natural Soap Company 

All natural ingredients and smells divine!

I could go on forever about my stay but I think I'll stop here - I hope you've enjoyed my little taste of Donegal and as always, feel free to comment and share :)

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  • Anonymous
    Anonymous 16 August 2014 at 21:01

    love the post love the pics and HAPPY BELATED BIRFDAY BEAUTIFUL!! xx

    • Cliona Kelliher
      Cliona Kelliher 29 August 2014 at 21:21

      Hey Alia, only seeing this now due to my lack of wifi in Donegal! Thank you so much :)

  • Unknown
    Unknown 3 April 2015 at 11:30

    Nature looks so divine and peaceful, what a great idea for a birthday break. Love the taste of Donegal crafts. Great post.

    • Cliona Kelliher
      Cliona Kelliher 5 April 2015 at 23:00

      Thanks so much Liga, it was a wonderful break and a fabulous place to visit.

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