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Thursday, 22 March 2012

Ireland for the St Patrick’s weekend

I had a couple other episodes to write about before the weekend but didn’t get them done, so they’ll have to wait for now!  I want to tell you just now about the great weekend I spent on the Irish-speaking west of Ireland – in Gweedore, County Donegal.  The college where I went to Gaelic language lessons is involved in a project with An Crannog, a developing community centre, where Irish language and culture is promoted.  The project linking the centre with the college aims to promote and develop Irish and Scottish Gaelic language in the two areas, and to develop awareness of each other’s culture.

Funding was available from the sponsors to take a group across from the college to County Donegal for the weekend of St Patrick’s Day, and in May, when the college holds its Celtic Festival, a group from An Crannog will pay a visit to Scotland. 

So, early on Thursday morning last week 20 of us piled into a coach and set off for Cairnryan for the ferry to Belfast.  The crossing was calm, and a little over two and a half hours later we were driving out of Belfast on our way to County Donegal.donegal scenery

As we headed west we enjoyed the countryside around us.donegal scenery2




donegal hills


dunlewey lough




donegal islandsIt was early evening when we arrived in Bunbeg, just in time to take in the view of the beach and the small islands offshore.  We explored the beach the next day, after a class at An Crannog in Scots Gaelic from Rona, one of our party from Scotland.rona teaching gaelic class2

We were also to get a lesson in Irish Gaelic, but unfortunately that didn’t happen for some of us, who were held up, on a tour, more of which later!  magheraclogher roadThere are so many new houses these days, and very few of the old remain. Bad Eddie.Cara na MaraWe walked down the

road and on to the beach to take a look at the wreck of a boat that ran aground in the 1970s in bad weather.   It was called Cara na Mara – Friend of the Sea – but is known as Bád Eddie, or Eddie’s boat. bunbeg and errigal

Looking back towards Bunbeg from Magheraclogher beach, in the distance is the cone shape of the highest mountain in County Donegal, Errigal.  errigal2

We had passed along the foot of it on our journey to Bunbeg.  muckish2

A legend tells of Finn McCuill, leader of the Fianna, guardians of the Kings of Ireland, slicing the top off the mountain Muckish, (why?)  forming the cone mountain of Errigal, and leaving the flat table of Muckish as it appears today! 

glenveagh castle We drove by Errigal again on our way to the Glenveagh National Park where we visited the 19th century castle and gardens loughveagh2 

overlooking Lough Veagh , glenveagh castle gardens

and later the heritage centre. national park 

where we heard the story of Colmcille (Columba in English). It was this tour that ran over time and prevented us getting back to An Crannog for our lesson in Irish Gaelic.  However the guided tour was interesting, if not a bit long-winded, and the views rather lovely.

When we got back to An Crannog there was a music session going on and the group were practising some tunes for a ceili that night.

I’m getting tired now – still catching up on sleep - so am going to stop here for tonight, and next time will start with the photos of the music practice!

Talk again soon.


Katrina said...

A calm crossing to Belfast, you were lucky. Lovely photos as ever Evee, that looked like a good weekend, even if there was a lot of Irish gift of the gab!

Evelyn/Ev/Evee said...

A calm crossing on the way back too, Katrina! It was a great visit!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful landscapes - thankyou for sharing.
[Valerie, NZ]

Evelyn/Ev/Evee said...

Thanks Valerie in NZ. Glad you enjoyed them. Have you seen the photos I took in your part of the world in 2008?