The first excursion of the holiday was to Cuilcagh and the Legnabrocky Trail. I have to confess that I am not really a hiker, I love to be outdoors but I do find endless trudging a little bit boring, and prefer to go for a quick run anyday! However, as it was a joint holiday, some compromise was necessary :) It is an amazing walk, the views are gorgeous and if you are a hiker, this is well worth doing. It's a 14.8 km round trip - I didn't do the final steps to the summit because I'm not too fond of heights but Mark did and it just looks incredible. (The trail is about 46 min drive from Drumshanbo).
|Photo courtesy of Mark|
Our next spot to visit was more sedate but somewhere I have been meaning to visit for a long time as I see the signs every time we go to Donegal.
Boyle Abbey is about half an hour from Drumshanbo and was en route to Donegal so it was the perfect time to see it.
It is a Cistercian Abbey, built in 1161 (the first Cistercian Abbey in Ireland was Mellifont Abbey in County Meath) It was converted into a barracks by the Elizabethans in 1592 and it was then besieged by the Cromwellians in 1645. Despite all its trials, there is still a strong sense of elegance and beauty in what remains and the joy of history, for me, is that feeling of standing in the footsteps of those who have gone before. I could imagine the tranquil routine of the monks and the craftsmen busy at work. There is a tour available and a small exhibition upstairs in the gatehouse. The carvings are really worth noting, they are elaborate and interesting and there is a Sheelagh na Gig, which I found unusual but apparently these were incorporated into Christian buildings also.
Onwards to Donegal and so many familiar places that we love. The weather was great, we swam almost every day and we also did the Slieve League walk which I hadn't done before. This is not the grand trek that Legnabrocky was, it's a much easier walk with spectacular views and the path is fairly manageable. You do get the weird weather variances though, so at points I was switching from vest top to jumper every 5 seconds it seemed! This walk is approx 3k plus walk from car park and back (I clocked up 8k on my step counter which might give a better idea). These cliffs are amongst the highest in Europe and 3 times higher than the Cliffs of Moher at the highest point.
Another new place we went to was Lusty Beg Island Resort in Fermanagh - it's a resort on an island which is accessible by a short (few minutes) ferry trip. The resort is a gorgeous spot on Lower Lough Erne and we had lunch there and a walk around the lake. It was very pleasant to be sitting out in the sun with a lakeview.
We then went on to Boa Island to see the boa island figures in Caldragh Cemetery. The date of the figures is not exactly known although the cemetery dates from the Irish Early Christian period. The larger of the statues (pictured below) is a Janus figure because of the two faces and the smaller (thought to be older) is possibly a precursor to the Sheelagh na Gigs.
They are fascinating from a historical perspective and well worth going to see.
Well I am almost coming to a close, we had a wonderful holiday and saw and did lots more besides the special places I have mentioned. Hopefully you have enjoyed this post and have maybe gotten some ideas of places to visit. I will leave you with some of my favourite pictures of our holiday, that represent to me the beauty of Donegal.