Sligo and Donegal (May 2022)

A lovely few days with family in beautiful Sligo and Donegal, after a long Covid-enforced absence.

I arrived a day earlier than everyone else, and stayed the night in the Allingham Arms hotel in Bundoran. I paid a bit extra for a sea view - this was room 302 - and it was worth every penny.

There may even be a pot of gold out there, if I could just hire a might have helped pay for the hotel room.

Bundoran was looking positively Californian in the sunshine. I spent all my summer holidays here as a child, and it will always be coloured with a sense of nostalgia.

This old graveyard at Finner is a bit outside Bundoran (a slightly tedious walk along a busy road). Apparently the old church was damaged by cannonball during the Cromwellian years. I liked this statue of the Virgin Mary  - the lichen looked like teardrops.

Some bits of Bundoran are a bit rundown, but they’re doing a good job of disguising it.

Family reunion (minus one brother), first time all of us had been able to get together in almost two and a half years! Three McHughs and one MC Kill-I-An.

We had tea (in my case a pint of Guinness) in the ornate surroundings of the Great Northern Hotel in Bundoran, a place also very familiar from childhood days, when our parents used to go ballroom dancing here.

We were staying for three nights in the Pier Head Hotel in the lovely little village of Mullaghmore, close to Cliffoney, where my father came from. And we all got free upgrades to harbour view rooms - this was the view from my room.

“Healing is possible even when the heartache continues”

In 1979 Lord Mountbatten was assassinated in Mullaghmore by the IRA, when a bomb exploded on his boat. The bomb also killed three others, including two children aged 14 and 15. I'd been in Mullaghmore on holiday a few months earlier and had seen Mountbatten at the harbour, a fairly common sight - the Mountbattens used to spend their summers in the castle at Classiebawn, which overlooks Mullaghmore.

In 2015 Prince Charles visited, and this bench, in the garden of a former convent, commemorates that occasion. The garden is a peaceful place, full of flowers, and with a little pond.

The green cross on the shore overlooks where the explosion happened.

The old McHugh homestead in Cliffoney, where my father grew up- still a fine old building, and still in family hands.

My grandfather (on the left) in 1925, outside the school he was headmaster of. The varied faces of the pupils are quite fascinating.

Years ago I remember visiting old Barite mines up in the mountains near Cliffoney with my father, and this is the site of one of the mills used to process the ore. The sharp-edged mountain in the background is Ben Whisken.

The impressive sweep of the Horseshoe Glen; it stood in for Iceland in some scenes in the recent film The North Man.

Horse-riding is popular with tourists around here.

This area is quite remote and has many old abandoned houses. This one still had all the furniture inside and felt quite spooky.

My sister took the picture of me - I’m just taking a picture, not breaking in!

Coffee break in the Jam Pot cafe in Grange. There can’t be that many Irish cafes that have a potrait of a Spanish admiral on their wall - three ships of the Spanish Armada were sunk off the coast here in 1588.

The beautiful beach at Streedagh,  where the Armada ships sank. There are stunning views of Ben Bulben in the background.

We had dinner in the excellent Lang’s Bar and Bistro in Grange. This little bar/shop was at one end, we weren’t quite sure if the goods were for display or actually for sale.

Another beautiful morning in Mullaghmore, as seen from the breakfast room in the Pier Head.

I went for a short walk along the roads outside Mullaghmore. The mountains loom everywhere around here.

I found this modern stone on the way out of Mullaghmore. I don't know it's significance, but I recognised the cross at the top, as it's a replica of an early Christian one beside a well in Cliffoney, just up the road. The swastika is a highly-unusual feature for these kind of crosses, but it long pre-dates any appropriation by the Nazis.

The road followed a beautiful lake, and I turned down some side roads that looked like they hadn’t seen any cars or people in decades.

Another abandoned farmhouse, with furniture (and books) still inside. I wouldn’t want to be poking around here after dark.

What’s this guy up to? And does he have any food???

Back in Mullaghmore, walking down the hill above the village, with great views of the mountains beyond.

A pint of Guinness in the Beach Hotel and a bit of a read about the Barytes mining in the mountains, before having dinner - a really excellent lasagne.

It was a wonderful few days here - we were blessed with great weather, but more importantly it was a lovely time getting together with family, after a long Covid-enforced absence. Can’t wait to get back again!

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