It was August of 2021 when my family and I decided to take a trip to Donegal, Ireland. We were looking for a peaceful and relaxing getaway, and Donegal seemed like the perfect destination. It was an experience that we will never forget. We started our journey by taking a train from Dublin to Sligo, and as we were travelling, we were greeted with picturesque views of the Irish countryside. Once we arrived in Sligo, we took a taxi to Tullan Strand, which was a 30 minutes drive.
We had booked our accommodation in a 45-year-old mansion situated right next to and overlooking the Tullan Strand beach in Bundoran. The mansion was owned by an elderly couple, Marlene and Charlie, who in themselves have a great story of how they moved and settled in Donegal. Other than the businesses they own / used to own, they had some great horses with them and participated in horse racing across Europe during their early years.
As soon as we arrived, we were greeted warmly by the couple and they gave us a tour of the mansion. The mansion was beautifully located, well-maintained and had a homely feel to it, which made us feel very comfortable. The view from our room was breathtaking and we enjoyed the view and serenity.
In the evening, my wife, daughter, and I went for a walk to Bundoran. It is a nice walk from Tullan Strand to Bundoran city centre with attractions like Wishing Chair, Fairy Bridge, and you can see alongside in the ocean, the surfers waiting to catch the best wave.
It was getting late and we decided to order take-away from an Indian restaurant. My wife and daughter stayed back in the main city area while I went to collect the food.
At the restaurant, I met an unknown person while collecting food. As we both were waiting for our respective take-aways, he introduced himself as Rahul and turned out to be a fellow Malayalee. People from Kerala tend to connect at lightning speed, and myself being a Malayalee, we connected from the word hello itself. Usually, it goes from hello, are you from India? Kerala? Naatil Evideya (where is your home town / village?) and the conversation gets going. I was not surprised to meet a Malayalee in this part of Ireland. As the saying goes, you will find a Malayalee (tea shop) even in Moon. We spoke for less than a minute, and both shared basic information and said bye. When I stepped out of the restaurant, Rahul was waiting there in his car along with his wife Teju. They offered to drive me to our accommodation and on the way picked up my wife and daughter as well.
That night, I received a list from Rahul which had places written on a piece of paper. He inquired if we wanted to join the next day to cover those places. I told him that we have a kid and might have to take unplanned stops as well. He said that was not at all a problem.
Rahul and Teju were at our place the next morning at 10 am. It was my wife’s birthday, so we started the day by cutting the cake at the mansion. Marlene arranged the beautiful and yummy cake for us.
Rahul and Teju drove us all across Donegal and took us to the best spots. It was the best road trip we had ever taken. They took us to all the must-see places in Donegal and also some hidden gems that only locals would know about. We started the drive by stopping at The Pod for a coffee en route Killybegs, and had a quick stop to catch the glimpse of the boats at Killybegs.
The next stop was the highlight of the day. We drove to Malin Head, which is the most northerly point of Ireland. The views were absolutely breathtaking, with the rugged cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean stretching out as far as the eye could see. It was a great place to take in the natural beauty of the area and to get a sense of the history of the place. The locals say that you can see the Scotland mountains from Malin Head on a clear sky day.
We visited Muckross beach. A small , quiet beach with stunning views and a perfect place to visit after the breathtaking views of Malin Head.
The drive continued and visited Malin Baig / Silver Strand beach. The beach is amazing and has got a history as well.
By now, we all were hungry and stopped at a cafe near Silver Strand. Though not an elaborate lunch, we managed to get some warm soup and pasta to keep our tummies quiet.
Assaranca waterfall was the next one on the list. An opportunity to stretch our legs, take few photos and get going again.
They dropped us back at Tullan Strand in the evening. The next day, the three of us walked around Bundoran before taking a taxi to Sligo railway station and back to Dublin in Irish Rail.
We are now great friends with Rahul and Teju. What we came to know was that Rahul is a wonderful photographer as well. I felt as though it was a match made to happen. Matches are made in heaven and Donegal is not less than a heaven. The trip was filled with many memorable moments, but one of the most memorable was meeting Rahul and Teju. They are incredibly friendly and hospitable, and they really made the trip special.
In conclusion, I highly recommend visiting County Donegal, and if you’re traveling with family, Tullan Strand beach and Malin Baig beach are great options for swimming and beach activities. If you’re interested in surfing, Bundoran is a great spot with a variety of options for both beginners and experienced surfers. Bundoran also has a natural ocean swimming pool. The Tin Pot and The Salty Fox near Tullan Strand are good options to eat.
We visited Donegal once again in 2022 , this time stayed in a Cropod, Glencolumbkille, mostly will try to write about that trip as a separate travelogue :).
I would highly recommend a visit to this part of Ireland, and if you’re lucky enough to meet some locals who are willing to show you around, all the better!
Besides the places I’ve mentioned, Ireland has a lot to offer for staycations. There are also many other must-visit places in Ireland, some of my favourites include The Achil Island, Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, Dunquin Pier , however Donegal has its own unique beauty and culture that is worth exploring.
This article, I co-authored with the help of ChatGPT. Though it look 10-15 iterations to hit the same wave length, I felt that ChatGPT can be used to tweak and fine tune articles.
4 thoughts on “Rendezvous at Donegal, a travelogue”
Planning to head there myself – will follow the itinerary.
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Rahul ji ❤
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Vijay… This travelogue is excellent. Adding pictures adds value to it. Probably you may be first to use ChatGTP for fine tuning. Keep writing Vijay.
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Thank you for the constant support and feedbacks 🙂