The Emerald Island: Driving along the north coast (part II)

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Or…a tribute to the Irish clouds and waves

I woke up on a Saturday morning and looked out of the window. The first sun rays were lying behind the clouds, not even bothering to try to make it through the thick cloud layers. I was not quite surprised, as my hatred for clouds was long gone. I had a quick but filling breakfast, picked a couple of yammy sandwhiches with irish sausages and headed out. I couldn’t wait to step my foot on this county that everybody was talking about: the wild Donegal.

I enjoyed the gloomy landscape with some nice company, music and random talks until Sligo where we had a quick stop for a warm drink and a visit at a tourism information office, for our trip was quite impulsive and we had no idea where we were heading to. We were welcomed by a kind lady who was wearing a strong sweet perfume. She suggested a couple of sites and trails with a wide smile, a warm voice and a thick accent: hours later, I could still hear her voice explaining all about “Benbulben” (a mountain at county Mayo), pronouncing the mountain’s name in her sweet Irish accent. We thanked her with a delicious piece of cake. Minutes later we realized everybody in town was as sweet as the lady at the tourism office: people were greeting us warmly, smiling and laughing. We didn’t decide if that was normal or a consequence of our funny appearance, due to a weird combination of items we were carrying and trying to distribute in our hands without smassing everything down: plastic mugs with hot drinks, taperware with cake, a bottle of wine and a dozen of leaflets and tourist books.

We decided to enjoy all these items, including both the cake and touristy leaflets, in Rosses Point where the sun was shining but the strong wind reminded us we were at the Atlantic coast.


Rosses point

Our next stop was Mullaghmore, the peak of a small peninsula curved by wild waves, especially famous among surfers. The dark sky, the view and sound of the ocean waves created a rather dramatic landscape. It was one of these moments you stare at nature and you suddenly realize that you mind is calm and clear.

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Mullaghmore castle

Our next stop, Rossnowlagh, was a calmer beach wave-wise but quite crowded by surfers, dog owners and the famous beach wanderers, people who love walking near the shore and stare at the ocean or at the horizon. As we are avid beach wanderers ourselves, we practiced the latter, trying every spot and building on the beach.

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Rossnowlagh beach

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Road to the sky

Our day would end at an even more dramatic spot: Slieve League, or one of the highest cliffs in Europe. Another black  cloud welcomed us, hanging on the edge of the cliff. We walked for a little while on the trail that takes you on top of the cliffs and emerged in the cold thick cloud that covered everything around us, including the wonderfull view. We were amazed by the quietness around us: it seemed that the clouds and thick fog were absorbing every sound, making us feel we were part of some celtic folk tale. We enjoyed a cloudy but rewarding sunset, and drove away to enjoy some pure Irish hospitality.

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The first view of “Sliabh Liag”


A closer look at the cliffs

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Sunset view at Slieve League

The next morning started with a delicious Irish breakfast that gave us enough energy to start the day. Our destination was the Fanad peninsula, at the very north of the Emerald island. The sun was shining but soon we realized we were driving towards a small storm. We got just enough time to enjoy the view of  Fanad Head and the Fanad lighthouse when the storm started and suddenly everything was covered in water, including my poor camera.

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Fanad Lighthouse

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A quick shot in the rain!

Despite the somewhat dissapointing weather we sticked to our plan and visited the bay of Ballymastocker, where according to our travelling guide, we would be able to visit a beach that was once voted as the second most beautiful beach in the world. In the absence of an image, my imagination run wild as I was trying to compare the images of tropical sunny beaches with what I’ve seen so far in Ireland. When we reached the bay, the beach did not fail our expectations as the colour combinations were once again breathtaking. The sand had a warm orange cast that was blending with the yellow and green dunes surrounding the bay and the sea was deep blue. The storm was slowly moving east, shaping a dramatic sky that soon gave it’s place to a wonderful rainbow, while half of the bay was bright and sunny and the other half was gloomy and dark.

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Ballymastocker Bay

That image was more than enough to mark the end of our quick roadtrip to the north part of Ireland. We said goodbye to a weird friend who preferred plain grass from our delicious apples and headed south, leaving behind another pretty view of the Emerald Island and promising, as always, to be back someday.

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Farewell to a friend


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