Posted by: mdmusingsie | February 1, 2015

(Re-) Discovering Donegal (cuid a haon)

I’ve paid my winter dues – made my snow angels, had snowball fights, shoveled probably close to a ton of the white stuff, walked through knee deep snow banks (uphill both ways to school J and all that), dug my car out of drifts and so on until I couldn’t wait to escape to warmer climates. If I never lift a snow shovel again, it will be too soon. So why was I heading north in January when snow showers had been on and off for weeks up in that neck of the woods? Friendship and adventure.

Sure, I could have put off the trip until warmer days, but since my circle of friends in the Dublin area is miniature at best and I hadn’t taken any extra days off during the holidays, I decided to put my faith in the universe and head out for a long weekend. Worst case, we’d watch a few movies and have some long chats.

Instead I re-discovered just how beautiful that area of the country is. Donegal has long been one of my favorite areas of Ireland, though I seldom get up that way as I don’t have a car (yet).

On a windy Saturday when the weather was literally changing every 5-10 minutes we headed for Glenveagh National Park. Snow and rain showers blew through at intervals and the wind felt as if it could cut you to shreds if you stood out in it for any length of time, but as soon as the squalls blew through we were graced with plenty of sunshine. The scenery in the area was well worth the effort.

Scenic view from Glenveagh Castle

Scenic view from Glenveagh Castle

Scenic view from Glenveagh Castle

Scenic view from Glenveagh Castle


Mount Muckish

We decided on this route, not for a brisk walk along nature trails, but to engage in one of my favorite sports – castle hunting. In the middle of the park overlooking Lough Veagh sits Glenveagh Castle. Built around 1870, the castle consists of a Norman-style tower attached to assorted manor-house buildings plus a round tower added by the wife of John George Adair (who built the castle), after his death. It has had a number of owners and occupants throughout its history including two Americans who were the last owners before it was presented to the State in 1981 by Mr. Henry McIlhenny.

Glenveagh Castle

Glenveagh Castle Entrance

Glenveagh Castle Entrance

Visitors were scarce on this blustery day and we nearly had a private tour, joined only by a couple about 15 minutes into the guided visit. Most of the rooms we were shown had a view of the lake that was breathtaking – an artist or writer would be hard pressed to run out of inspiration in such a place.


View from round tower bedroom


Designs on the walls made of shells


Master bedroom


Master bath


Master bathroom – despite the apparent chamber pots there was a proper toilet to the left


Guest Room in round tower of Glenveagh Castle

Guest Room in round tower of Glenveagh Castle

Bedroom - Glenveagh Castle

Bedroom – Glenveagh Castle

GlenveaghCastle_drawing2b_sm GlenveaghCastle_drawing2_sm

Red Room - Glenveagh Castle

Red Room – Glenveagh Castle

Dining Room - Glenveagh Castle

Dining Room – Glenveagh Castle

Glenveagh Castle

Glenveagh Castle

Dining Room Glenveagh Castle

Dining Room Glenveagh Castle

Glenveagh Castle Corridor

Glenveagh Castle Corridor

The castle is built of granite which gives it a more ancient appearance. The trees and gardens surrounding it were all brought in, as the natural landscape has a more barren appearance with only low lying shrubbery. There is a walled garden, but it was closed this time of year. However, after dodging showers by taking lunch in the castle tea room, we did take a stroll through the Victorian garden along with a short scenic walk. The light wasn’t the greatest and the photos don’t do justice to the beauty of the scenery.

Snowdrops in Snow (at Glenveagh)

Snowdrops in Snow (at Glenveagh)

The visit was worth every shiver and I’m looking forward to returning in more amenable weather to take in some of the nature walks in the park. Definitely put this on your to-do list if you’re in or around Ireland.


  1. Thanks for taking us on this trip, Dawn.

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