On our first night in Ireland we stayed in the village of Carrigans. It is just over the border from Londonderry, and is a prettier alternative than staying in town.
We stayed at Mount Royd Country Home, which is an award winning B&B. And it certainly lived up to its reputation.
From the outside the building is most impressive, and continues to impress inside.
It is decorated from top to bottom with collectables, antiques and all things quaint.
A teddy bear greets you on your bed, and the rooms are stocked with more toiletries than I have ever owned.
The owner is so friendly and helpful, offering tea and cakes on arrival and ensuring you are well looked after.
Breakfast was a feast, and if you can't eat all your toast you can feed it to the pet sheep out the back!!
In Downings, I stayed at a residential centre named An Teach Bán. In the Irish language, it means the white house -- and the pronunciation sounds like "an chah bwan". The centre was founded in 1985, and it was created as a place for refuge during the Troubles. Today, it is subsidized by the European Union and the governments of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
I stayed at the centre as part of a workshop, and the total cost for lodging and meals during my 6 day/5 night stay was only 125 Euros! The cost is so low because of the subsidies. I was fortunate to have my own bedroom (with a private en suite bathroom), but most of the other rooms appear to have been double and triple occupancy. The meals were served family-style in the dining room -- and they were excellent! The centre also includes a large recreation room, a large room for workshops/meetings, and a large rooftop patio.
I really enjoyed my stay at An Teach Bán -- it is a special place. If you have an opportunity to stay here, I highly recommend it. Since the centre is the site of many workshops and programs -- there are probably restrictions on when you can stay. Below, I have included the link to a website with a contact number for the centre if you want more information.
Subsidized residential centre dedicated to peace.
Meals included -- they are home-style and delicious!
Tea and biscuits are available in the kitchen at all times -- day or night.
Within walking distance of the beach and everything else in the village of Downings.
After my workshop concluded in Downings, I stayed one night at Gallaghers Hotel in Letterkenny. The reason that I chose this hotel was that it is located within short walking distance from the Letterkenny bus station -- from which I took a bus to Galway City.
I booked my room in advance through a website named booking.com -- and everything went smoothly. The cost for my 1-night stay was 65 Euros. The reception desk at the hotel was very pleasant at both check-in and check-out.
My room was very spacious and well-furnished. I ate dinner at the pub in the hotel -- and it was pretty good. Breakfast was included in the rate -- and they served a full Irish breakfast. The quantity of the breakfast was ample, but I would only rank the quality as average.
My stay was on a Wednesday night. As it turns out, Wednesday is a big night at the Milan Nightclub that is adjacent to the hotel. Since I could faintly hear the music from my room on the second floor (it wasn't too bad), I decided to venture over and take a look. It's a large, multi-story nightclub that is geared toward a young crowd. The cover charge was 5 Euros -- and most drinks were 3 Euros. There didn't appear to be a dress code.
Overall, I was satisfied with my 1-night stay at Gallaghers Hotel. It's a nice modern hotel, and it served my purposes.
Located in the heart of Letterkenny's city centre -- within short walking distance to the bus station.
Full Irish breakfast included in the rate.
Within the hotel complex, there is a restaurant, pub, and nightclub.
This B&B is situated in just the right area between Kilcar and Carrick. Nice rooms and nice views of Tawny Bay and Muckross Head. The owners were so much fun and would tell us where to go that night to hear good Traditional Irish Music. This B&B is near a Hostel also. The young folk who come to climb Slieve League and the Bunglas Cliffs (1,975 feet high) stay in the Hostel and this B&B. The owners also have a gift shop which is convenient.
See photograph of B&B on website listed below!!!! Also more about Donegal on this site.
Carrick is a very quaint village, popular for fly fishing and angling, and between Carrick and Glencolmkille are the intriging bogs. Much turf cutting to see here.
The owners.....the area, a good base to stay while you take your day trips around Co. Donegal.
I was quite impressed with this medium sized hotel. The view out over the sea was deeply impressive. The bar was a lively affair, and the food was well cooked and presented. There can't be much more that you want from a hotel in County Galway.
The rooms were reasonable value at aroud 80 Euro a night (winter rates), and comfortably if not luxuriously furnished.
My only real quibble was our bathroon. It was a good size and perfectly clean, but quite why it was decorated, between the floor, wall, tiles, splashbacks and furniture in SIX (yes I sat and counted them dear reader) different shades of green is quite beyond me.
I was not really impressed with the Port Hostel in Letterkenny. It seems to be in need of some repair and re-decoration, the bathtub was rather tarnished, there was no shower curtain and while we had a balcony off our room the lock for the balcony door was broken and we could not get out onto it.
The advantage was that it was in a very central yet quiet location, and the staff was very friendly.
I have had the most pleasant experience with the Port Hostel in Letterkenny and would gladly recommend it to anyone staying over in Letterkenny. Their hospitality was second to none and the facilities are great.
My friend from London forgot his mobile phone in the hostel and the lady there mailed it to him in London on her own costs.
The hotel is still undergoing renovations which should be complete soon. Mainly they are re-decorating and upgrading the rooms but this in no way detracted from the stay. A Delux room is marginally more expensive than the ordinary room but well worth it. The room was enormous and had a beautiful view of the Mountains. On the other side of the hotel there is a stunning view of the lake.
This is just a very peaceful setting about 7kms outside Donegal Town. They have all the modern facilities but have kept a traditional feel to the hotel including turf burning in the fire in the bar. The bar has a nice relaxed feel to it and great views out over the lake. They have no leisure centre as yet but with such stunning scenery and walks (or if you really want the exercise ...jogs) around the lake it more than makes up for it.
The food in the hotel is excellent and many people who are not residents come along in the evening just for the cuisine. Being in Donegal fish features a lot on the menu and is really good.
The only minor drawback ....if it can even be described as such is the evening's entertainment is Irish music / cabaret which is a bit touristy 'oirish' but if you go with the right spirit even that can be a bit of fun !. I recommend getting a taxi into Donegal Town only costs about €5 and there are plenty of pubs in the town that are great craic.
Although more pricy than most Donegal hotels the quality of the service, the food, the scenery and the really relaxed and peaceful atmosphere make this a really great place to stay.
I cannot recommend it highly enough and upgrade to a Delux.....fantastic jacuzzi bathroom makes it worth it.
- Stunning scenery
- Excellent Food
- Peaceful and serene
- Great access to drives / walks in Donegal
- Upgrade to Delux room for great jacuzzi bathrooom
The Donegall Holiday Cottages on Cruit Island near Cinn Casla in Donegal are excellent. They are very much a get away from it all experience and you will need a car ot get there and for driving around. They are about 3-4kms from Cinn Casla itself and are traditional thatched cottages with 3-4 rooms that can sleep 6-8 people.
The positive side of these holiday homes is that they are situated on a small beach which although not safe for swimming is an excellent location to just admire the power and beauty of the Atlantic Ocean. The cottages are well furnisthed with most mod cons but without TV's so if your idea of a holiday includes hours of watching the goggle box then this is not the place for you. There are about 12 cottages in the scheme built on a headland overlooking a smal beach. The sunse phot was taken on the rocks in front of the cottage so you can get a sense of the fabulous sunsets you can witness from the cottage.
The photo of the cottage was taken from the bottom of the rock face in front of the cottage. These rocks have been rolled and shaped by big Atlantic waves. When the tide is ebbing or flowing they roll and collide under the waves making a sound like the low rumble of thunder. You can sit and watch the waves crashing against these rocks for ages in an almost hypnotic trans.
You can use these cottages as a base for scenic drives to both north and south Donegal...places like Horn Head, Mount Errigal (photo) etc...and wherever you go you will not be disappointed by the scenery. This is a great area for people who love the outdoors life beaches, hillwalking, etc.
I would recommend renting the cottages with a group of friends and having a few nights in with some beers, a bit of 'ceol agus craic' (music and generally having a laugh). They can be a good location for a family break but not if you have very young children.
the scenery of the powerful waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashing on the beach
Tradtional Irish cottages with open fire place gives you a real sense of old ireland...but with all the mod cons with only one...and to my mind positive exception..No TV.
We had this bungalow for a week as a base to tour Donegal. It was a great way to spend some time, and cheaper than staying in hostels! Shopping for groceries in town gave us yet another opportunity to intereact with the local people and see life as they see it. All in all, I highly recommend self-catering, and this was a great town to stay to see County Donegal
lovely views of the sunset, great place to take a walk! Fully equiped home away from home.
It would appear that if you want to open five star hotel in Ireland you must start with the base ingredient of a castle. In this case the castle dates back to the 15th century, although it was totally rebuilt in the 1860's. It therefore has something of the Victorian romanticised of castle building.
It didn't help that the place burned to the ground in 1939. The rebuilding therefore basically started with the facade, and has millions spent behind it. I will admit that they have done a fantastic job of the public rooms - sympathetic to the history but still clearly a hotel. The new rooms at the rear seem however to have been sub-contacted to an architect who specialised in council offices and retirement homes during the 1970's.
The rooms were very large indeed and tastefully furnished. Superb bathrooms and beautiful beds. The money has certainly been spent in that department. The spa too is very well appointed.
Now for the rant :
The restaurant service was terminally slow
We had to queue for a breakfast table
They charged extra if you had more than about three baby carrots with your meal
You are charged some mean amount to use the sauna / steam room at the spa
You have to walk ooutside to get to some rooms - not much use when it is chucking it down
If I pay for a five star hotel - I expect to be able to use five star facilities.
The artworks in the grounds are very tasteful, and all for sale. They range from twee little dogs on steps to some impressive nudes in the formal gardens.
Inside the main public rooms you can also fins a couple of Lucian Freud's. One of them is of the owner and hangs over the fireplace.
Inishowen Peninsula, Co. Donegal has to be one of the most memorable parts of my trip. We found a wonderful B&B but I cannot find a web site for it. It was called "Highpoint B&B" and it was very close to Malin Head in Ballygorman. Her phone number is below.
Anne Hawes was our hostess and she was wonderful, loved to talk and visit with us and sent us to all kinds of places by the wayside. One being the Wee House of Malin, a cave on a beach where Mass used to be said in hiding dring English rule.
Ballygorman, Malin Head, Inishowen, Co. Donegal
Very very very remote, extremely beautiful.....Anne is a lovely hostess, loves to chat and give advice to go. You will love her.
Rooms are very nice and clean with ocean views. A great place.
We actually meant to sleep in Killybegs, but all B&B's there were fully booked because of some local wedding. One phone call led to another, and in the end we booked a room in Teelin Bay View, near Carrick.
It's a quiet rural area, and the B&B's name is exactly what you get: a nice view of Teelin Bay from the breakfast room and some of the bedrooms. Our room was cosy and comfortable, and the landlord and landlady were friendly and helpful.
If you plan to climb Slieve League the next day, as we did, you get a head start over all the other tourists: It's 2 minutes (by car) to the junction in Teelin village where the narrow road to Slieve League begins.
If you arrive in Teelin in the evening, as we did, don't arrive hungry: the proprietor did his best to direct us to the only restaurant within a radius of 10km from the village, but when we finally got there it was closed... There is a good Chinese takeaway nearby, though (in Carrick village).
Location very near the starting point for Slieve League ascent
I would highly recommend if you want to really experience County Donegal that you make arrangements for a self-catering rental of an Irish Cottage or Guest House.
It is such a nice way to connect to Donegal and get a real feel for it. Also so much more economical if you are on a budget.
We chose a cottage in Fintown. A very remote area, if you are interested contact the Post Mistress of Fintown...she can connect you with folks in the area who are renting including her own self-cater cottage. her name is Mairead.
A relatively new hostel, opened a few years ago. Malinbeg Hostel is located in the unspoilt beauty of south-west Donegal. The location is great! From the hostel it's 5-minute walk to Silver Strand and you can climb up to Slieve League from here.
You'll have a great view on the mountains on the one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other side.
Nice fire in the living-room at night (to get warm again after being outside all day).
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