Have you ever been somewhere so beautiful you just couldn’t stand it? In making a loop around the island, I spent three days in Doolin and three days in Donegal Town. Both are along the West Coast of Ireland, known as the Wild Atlantic Way.
Doolin is exactly what you picture when you picture Ireland. It’s also a popular spot to stay if you are visiting the Cliffs of Moher. I’m giving my suggestion on the Cliffs of Moher right up front. Don’t go to the visitor’s center walk up to the edge. Stay in Doolin or Liscannor and walk. Otherwise, you don’t get the views.
County Mayo is commonly said (among tourists) to be the most beautiful of Ireland’s counties. I think it’s County Clare though. I was blessed with amazing weather that included mild temperatures, blue skies, and sun the entire time. The hike to the Cliffs was a little grueling but it was also completely worth it. As I said above, the area by the Visitor’s Center was a massive let down. Take the walking tour from Doolin with Pat Sweeny. You will not be disappointed!
Even my hostel was cute! How could you not want to stay there? Okay enough, Doolin. On to County Donegal, and Donegal Town.
Donegal Town is frequently used as a jumping off point for Slieve League – which requires a car, or several buses. This had been my plan but I opted for a slow few days in the town instead. This was the only time it rained on me.
Donegal Castle was built in the 1400s and then added on by the English lord who took it over in the 1600s. Well worth a visit, there is a lot of Donegal history in the Castle.
Donegal has a really interesting history. It was home to the O’Donnell clan, and one of the strongholds against the English. Once England controlled Ireland this area was one of the heaviest in plantations by English and Scottish Protestants. The Irish fought hard, and hid the clergy, moving them around the area while they frantically wrote the story of the area, and accounted to families and land knowing any records of ownership would be destroyed. Much the way the Abbey was destroyed. The ruins are free and open to the public.
The fairy trail goes along the water, opposite the bay from the Abbey. There are two levels and some hunting is required to find some of the doors. Shops in town sell items to add to it.
If I’d stayed in town I would have missed the fairy trail and this beautiful walk into the center of town.
A must do is the walking tour the leaves daily from the Visitor’s Center. I wound on a private tour – and it was wonderful. It’s a great way to start your visit to give you a lay of the land and some history. My guide also had suggestions about where to eat and where to hear the best music. Always important information to get!