10 October 2015, Saturday
Today we got up, had a wonderful breakfast—including a delightful chat with the gentleman who makes the omelets—and then got on the N56 and headed west. We junctioned with the R263 and drove along the Atlantic coast in sight of the sea.
Twelve years ago we stopped at this very lay-by on the R263 just on the other side of Killybegs in midafternoon on a Saturday.
It overlooks Fintra Bay.
That day it was a little sunnier (you can see it if you scroll down in this post) but a lot windier. I called my son in Cookeville, Tennessee, and woke him up; he was a senior in college and had just taken the test to CLEP out of biology, which would enable him to graduate the next spring—in four years. He’d passed. We had a moment on the phone. 🙂
The view here is magnificent.
That particular day we were on our way to see Slieve League—some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe—but missed the turn-off. Now, of course, we have the Wild Atlantic Way marketing campaign, and the route is a little better signposted. 🙂 We were determined to get there. Slieve League was calling us.
I’d done a lot of research. I’d printed off maps. I knew we had to go to Teelin. And so we did. Here’s a map:
It was definitely worth the journey—but the drive was a little harrowing. We stopped a few times to catch our breath.
The road got narrower and narrower; there were curves and switchbacks. We kept climbing.
Then … it seemed like we were at the top. We got out. Took more photos.
But people kept driving by us (some people hiked by us), so we went on. You come to a car park and a gate; the road beyond the gate—which you have to open yourself, reading the warning sign as you do so—is little more than a track. I was already worn out and failed to take a photo.
We drove on. You do know when you’ve arrived. Because OMG.
You can’t drive any farther than this. But people do continue on foot—you can walk those peaks, and people were doing it on this day. It was chilly and windy, even where we were.
Pretty stinkin’ high. 🙂
We lingered for a good while, taking pictures and just taking it in. There were sheep everywhere.
And then we made our way back down the mountain. Slowly and carefully.
Gerry had seen a sign for a sweater shop in Teelin. “Shall we have a look?” he asked when we got back to civilization (i.e., Teelin). When you look at it on the map—sixteen minutes by car, it says—it doesn’t look like such a big deal.
But we drove … and drove … and drove … through bleak countryside. Where was this place?
There were signs, though. Every time we thought Have we gone too far? Did we miss a turn? there was another sign, leading us on. And then (truly, out in the middle of nowhere), there it was. The Glencolmcille Woollen Mill.
The Donegal region is well known for the wool products made here (from the local sheep, of course, which you see everywhere)—weaving and knitting. We’d already seen some beautiful handmade (not machine-woven!) fabric on Inishowen, and you can really see the difference. We wanted to see more.
So we drove and drove and found the place. Rossan Knitwear. Family business. This truly was the factory outlet, because once I saw the label, I recognized it. I’d seen these sweaters in other shops (and at slightly higher prices). We wandered around. It was the end of the season, so inventory wasn’t what it might have been, but after much consideration, we each picked out a sweater. It was a difficult choice because, oh! the colors.
They are beautiful, hand-loomed by the lady you see in the photo below. I asked to take her photo, and she removed her glasses. I was wearing a machine-knit (I’m pretty sure) sweater I bought in Killarney twelve years ago. Still, she remarked on it, and was impressed at its age and condition. (The red one. You know the one; I wear it all the time. I dress it up and dress it down. It goes everywhere.) So I guess the lesson here is a sweater bought in Ireland is a worthwhile investment.
We started making our way back.
When we got back to Carrick, there was a Saturday market in full swing, complete with livestock and crafts. It was hard not to stop, but we pushed on. We had treasures in our boot. 🙂
Back in Donegal Town, we stopped for an early supper of comfort food at the Blueberry Tea Room on Castle Street. It had been recommended to us by a shopkeeper the day before, and was also written up in the Wild Atlantic Way book we’d purchased back in Moville. The place was packed, and the ambience was fantastic.
When we returned to the hotel, we noticed there was a wedding reception just getting started. (First we noticed it in the parking lot. We had to drive out to the back nine, so to speak, to park.) There was a vintage Rolls Royce parked in front of the entrance, as if the wedding couple were the only people who might be using the door.
Interestingly, there had been a wedding reception here at the hotel Friday night, and we barely knew they were here, though we’d seen them and their guests coming in. But starting with the Rolls outside, this was a very upscale event. Or at least you would have thought that, based on the accoutrements. Yet by 3am—because, yes, we were still awake—they were behaving like what people in my neck of the woods would call trash, these fancy people, both men and women. One couple had an argument in the courtyard right outside our bedroom window, using their outside voices. Groups of people shouting (shouting!) and carrying on in the halls as if they were the only people staying in the hotel. It was shameful. Money doesn’t buy class, obviously.