Donegal. Memories, old and new.

Donegal is a magical place, where the past is ever present. Visiting last week I was struck by how little it has changed in the twenty-seven years since I last saw it.

This trip was something my brother and I had been speaking about for ten years, both of us desperate to once again walk the hills of our childhood adventures and to be reminded of the many tales of my mother’s past.

We drove miles and everywhere we went there were stories and memories.

We drove to look once more on the bog where we used to go to cut turf, or more correctly where my parents, siblings and grandparents cut turf while my brother and I, being the youngest, skipped off, looking for frogs and playing imaginary games. After long days we’d return to our grandparents house, siting on top of the turf in the trailer pulled by a tractor, with no thought for health or safety.


We also walked miles. One particular evening we decided to make our way to ‘the singing pub,’ a place we’d enjoyed many good nights in the past. A quick google told us it was 4.6km away. We’d thought it was further, but set off happy that only an hour stood between us and a drink. As we walked the views were spectacular and not one car passed us. However as time went by we became ever more thirsty and hungry. Finally after two hours we arrived… feckin google maps!

The next day we decided to head to ‘The murder hole.’ Neither of us had memories of being there before, but how could you resist visiting a beach with a name like that? It was recently named ‘Ireland’s top hidden beach.’ I’d like to tell you how to get there, but I can’t because it’s a secret. We teamed up with another family who had five children and got to experience it through the eyes of a child. How magical was that?





Day three it was time to go see ‘the witches hut.’ You wont find this in any guide books as it was a place of my mum’s creation. As we drove over the hills, the road dipping up and down my mum would said,


‘I wonder if the witch is at home today?’

As soon as I heard her say it I remembered our terror as young children watching out the windows, wondering if we’d catch a glimpse of her. As we’d near ‘the hut’ we could barely look.

‘I wonder will we see her looking out the window?’ my mum would say.

Our terror would rise to another level. We imagined a hag, staring out at us and wondered if she liked children. Finally we’d drive past sometimes squealing we could see her!

One of the evenings my brother and I went for a short walk and I remarked how many old deserted houses there were. I always find it difficult to pass these houses without wondering about the lives of those who lived there. Despite their size many housed families of fifteen and sixteen children.

As we went to photo one such a house I peeped in and was shocked to see it hadn’t been cleared out. As we stared in the broken windows we saw a pair of boots lying on the floor and a couple of chairs in the corner. In another room were two old cast iron beds with mattress’s next to the fireplace. It was both fascinating and spooky, as if we were somehow ‘peeping’ into someone’s life.










While Donegal is well known as a place of spectacular scenery, it is not known for its good weather. However, over our few days it went from lovely to glorious, making it all the more perfect. I can’t remember being on so many beaches, each one breathtakingly beautiful and almost deserted.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and we had to say our goodbyes. Now, days later I’m still buzzing as I remember so many wonderful moments and for a while at least my childhood doesn’t seem quite so far away.


14 thoughts on “Donegal. Memories, old and new.

  1. Oh, Tric this is just lovely!!! I haven’t been to Donegal, but did spend a short time in Ireland when my daughter was a student there for a semester. You so make me want to go back! Slainte!

  2. oh, what a wonderful adventure, so full of memories, now seen through the eyes of an adult. such a different perspective – and love your peek into the old houses. i often think about those same things when i pass by houses long since abandoned.

    1. Yes, a different perspective but so unchanged it was easy remember the child in me.
      Your imagination would go into overdrive as you walk past so many old and deserted stone houses.

    1. What a great trip that was for you. I got to see my great grandfather’s grave and where he lived. I’d seen it all before but as a child you don’t appreciate that history.

  3. Donegal is magical. There’s definitely something about it (but don’t be telling them Tric or they’ll ALL be running there since the Lonely Planet went and plastered it all over the internet last year!!) I went on a writing weekend there once, in a house which overlooked a huge valley. There was literally not one sign of human life from that house: no buildings, no chimneys, no visible roads. Just sheep. Not that many sheep either. It was awesome in a kind of scary way. It doesn’t feel like a small country up there. It feels like a very big century ago.

    1. Yes. We holiday in Beara, and they have a lot in common. Centuries of change have had very little impact on the landscape. Certainly food for the soul. Great writing country indeed. The silence is quite simply deafening. Except for the sheep and those noisy donkeys!

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