Posted by: mdmusingsie | February 2, 2015

(Re-) Discovering Donegal (cuid a dó)

Yesterday’s wind had blown itself east to annoy another section of the planet, and although the temperatures were still chilly, the forecast promised plenty of sunshine.

Leaving the picturesque town of Ramelton, we headed south of Letterkenny, turning off into the town of Raphoe with its triangular…er..(town) square. Past the down and down some narrow roads we headed for Beltany Stone Circle. We got our exercise hiking up the path (which is steeper than it looks, by the hard breathing we developed) until we reached the sheep gate the leads to the circle.

There is an information sign which can easily be missed as it’s on the left hand side as you come through the fence – about 15 yards from the monument itself. One standing stone sits off to the left marking the pathway into the circle.

Beltany Stone Circle

Beltany Stone Circle

Beltany8_sm

Beltany Stone Circle

Beltany Stone Circle

Beltany Stone Circle

Beltany Stone Circle

Never completely trust the weather forecast, which predicted 0% chance of precipitation all day. As we reached the circle a giant black cloud came cruising by dumping sleet and hail in its wake. There’s almost nowhere to hide so I tucked myself in behind one of the biggest rocks while my friend hid between two overlapping stones while we waited out the shower (which blew past in about 5 minutes like the ones the previous day).

Between the stones is a good place to hide from a hail storm

Between the stones is a good place to hide from a hail storm

Whilst it’s no Stonehenge, it is substantial enough in size, and except for one, the stones don’t particularly appear to have been shaped. The one that did look to have had some kind of carving had a peak-shaped top and is also singled out on the information plaque due to the ‘cup’ markings on both sides of the stone. Whether those were meant as some kind of symbol for the circle or had been made while the rock was used for other purposes is unknown. Reports from the 1930’s indicate that the site had been substantially disturbed and some of the stones left at angles instead of upright.

Only stone that appeared carved

Only stone that appeared carved

Cup marks

Cup marks

There wasn’t a very strong energy in most areas inside the circle; however, one spot very near the centre on a small mound had a very heavy, almost oppressive energy as if the air was pressing in and down on you. It didn’t feel particularly threatening, though quite claustrophobic in nature and tinged with sadness, for lack of a better word. I’d love to come back during some nicer weather and if I can get a day with no other visitors, like today, do some meditating inside the circle.

If that wasn’t enough for a day, we headed northwest to lunch in a cute little town called Dunfanaghy to refuel for another bout of castle hunting. A lovely, small café is located above a shop with a beautiful view of the inlet as well as the surrounding hills. We went for a drive in search of beach access but ended up roving along the Wild Atlantic Way (designated scenic areas up and down the West Coast).

Hill outside Dunfanaghy

Hill outside Dunfanaghy

More narrow roads outside of Creeslough took us up to Castle Doe which sits on a rock overlooking the inlet of Sheephaven Bay.  The site consists of a white central Norman-style tower dating from the 1500’s surrounded by battlements from the 1600’s. Originally belonging to the McSweeney clan and was in and out of the possession of the family for many years.

Castle Doe

Castle Doe

CastleDoe_sm

Although the site is in the care of the Irish Government and has been undergoing restoration, the gates were locked today. I found out later the people in the nearby cottage have the keys and also information pamphlets. Another place destined for a return visit.

What a great weekend! I not only got so see some amazing sights but experienced my first pub-quiz as well. My friend and I didn’t officially play, but couldn’t help but assist the group at the next table as they answered the trivia questions. Good wholesome fun to be had by all!

Ramelton Bridge (Bridge End pub has great food!)

Ramelton Bridge (Bridge End pub has great food!)

Ramelton

Ramelton

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