Members Login
Post Info TOPIC: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001 by kathycollins


Host

Status: Offline
Posts: 10684
Date:
Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001 by kathycollins
Permalink Closed


kathycollins

08/21/00 5:32 PM

Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi, Michelle,
I'm actively planning my next trip to Ireland, hoping to see much of the upper third of the island this trip! My plans thus far are to fly into Belfast and spend the first day there. Next morning, travel to Carrickfergus, then see the Antrim Coast road, Carrick-a-rede, Giants Causeway, and stay the night at Bushmills.Next day travel thru Derry to Donegal. My friends want to stay in a thatched cottage, so we are looking for one, possibly in the Ardara area. From this location we will explore Donegal and Fermanagh for a week.I'm not sure if distance-wise this is possible, but I'd like to go next thru Sligo to see Ceidi Fields and spend the night in Westport for 2 nights, spending the 2nd day visiting Achill Island.Next we will travel thru Enniskillen, Omagh, Dungannon, Omagh to somewhere in Co. Down, possibly Downpatrick, to spend last 2 nights, exploring Mourne and Ards peninsula.
My question - should I order your book now or will the next year's addition have more info of use to us?
Can you give me a heads up advice about a B&B in Belfast (1 night),
Bushmills (1 night), Westport (2 nights), Downpatrick? (2 nights).
My budget is not as tight as last year when we stayed in hostels, but I'm still interested in low cost - max 20 pounds sterling per person per night. Also, will facilities have capability of having 3 adults in a room or will 1 of us have to get an extra room?


DarrenA

08/21/00 7:05 PM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Michele, you'll permit me to help out on this one


DarrenA

08/21/00 7:29 PM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Michele, you'll permit me to help out on this one

Kathy, I think you're maybe rushing a wee bit only taking one day to go from Belfast to Bushmills - yes, I know all the tour buses and the like do it in a day, but you'll miss everything if you rush. Actually there's enough there to keep you busy for 28 years, but then I'm biased! I would suggest you try to do it in 2 days - the first day going from Belfast to somewhere like Cushendall or Cushendun, and the next day from there to Bushmills. Places I'd suggest you see en route would be:

Carrickfergus Castle
Ballygally (you could have your lunch in the castle, which is now a hotel)
Glenarm
Carnlough (eat in the Londonderry Arms, which was once owned by Winston Churchill, although he never stayed there)
Layd Churchyard, just outside Cushendun - kinda derelict now, but very very old
Glendun Viaduct
Glenariff Forest Park (check out the view)
The Coast Road to Torr Head
Murlough Bay (if you want to get away from it all, this is THE place to visit)
Fair Head
Carrick-a-rede rope bridge
Giants Causeway (well, obviously!)
Port Braddan/Whitepark Bay (Port Braddan has a REALLY small church)
Bushmills Distillery (never been there actually....)

After Bushmills, if you leave out Portrush and Portstewart, take the coast road between Coleraine and Limavady. If you're in Castlerock, say hi to my brother, who's the Presbyterian minister there! Check out the Mussenden Temple, then drive onto the beach at Downhill the whole way along to Benone. Or, if you have a head for heights, take the Bishops Road at Downhill and check out the viewpoint on the way (right on the edge of a cliff with superb views). Or of course you could do both
In Limavady, you might want to check out Roe Valley Country Park.
When you're in Donegal, the Grianan of Aileach (not bad for a Prod, eh?) is a must. From here on, Michele can give you details.

On your way back, make sure to give Fermanagh plenty of time - try to find Lough Navar Forest Park; it's worth it for the viewpoint alone.

As for Mourne and the Ards Peninsula, well, a couple of little known places. A rather strange one in the Mournes, just slightly beyond the car park at Spelga Dam is a little laneway which would lead down to the dam. Stop your car on it, reverse the car and while moving, put it in neutral. Watch and see

On the Strangford Lough side of things, do Castle Ward, Mount Stewart, Portaferry, etc. But be sure to find Nendrum Monastery - there's not much of it left, but think location, location, location. It's a superb place.

One thing you never do though is to be shy about talking to the locals - if you do that you'll get an awful lot more out of your trip. And may I suggest you buy a copy of "Silver Linings - Travels through Northern Ireland" by Martin Fletcher - it's available from amazon.co.uk, but if you do a Net search for "Silver Linings Martin Fletcher" you should find others. In my opinion it's better than anything the Tourist Board has ever produced (although that wouldn't be hard)....

On the subject of the Tourist Board, they're about to launch a new site - www.discovernorthernireland.com - it's not finished yet though. I'm not so sure they were impressed with me telling them the old one was s***e.

As for B&B's in the North, I wouldn't have a clue, living close enough to not have to stay in one! If you check with the Tourist Board or Michele, they'll be able to sort you out.

Was that comprehensive enough?

jstangl

08/22/00 6:03 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
kathycollins:
You'll really love Northern Ireland. In addition to what you have outlined, I'd suggest a stop at Dunluce Castle to go through the ruins. It is very impressive. While in Bushmills, you could try Carnside Farmhouse as your B&B. We had a very nice stay there. Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Giant's Causeway, Mussenden Temple are all worthwhile stops! DarrenA has seen a lot more than me and seems to have given you some great advice. We hope to spend a couple days in Northern Ireland next year; I have Michele's current edition now and will be ordering another next year. It really is a great guide! I sit on my back porch and read and re-read just to remind me of all the places I've been and all the places I've yet to see.
P.S. For a nice meal, stop at the Bushmills Inn - I can smell the peat fire now.
Jim


IrelandExpert
(Community Owner)
08/23/00 3:33 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi Kathy,

First I'll answer your question: wait till next year to get my book as it will have much more info in it about Northern Ireland. I'm going there in the autumn and so will have new B&Bs, restaurants, pubs, etc. to recommend.

Will you be flying into Belfast from an international flight? If so you may be jet-lagged the first day and not able to see as much of Belfast as you want. But you know best how you react to international trips.

Aren't Darren's insights great? You could easily spend your whole time in Northern Ireland but I'm afraid that you and I don't live there and don't have unlimited time (that's why we make multiple trips). I do itineraries for clients every day and know only too well the problems of fitting everything they want to do into a tight schedule. So going from Belfast to Carrickfergus and then doing the coast to Bushmills is doable in one day--but get an early start! In June daylight hours are much longer so you can fit more in, too.

Going from Ardara through Sligo to Westport via Ceidi Fields can also be done but will be a full day. (Actually I thought Ceide Fields was just a hole in a bog--but that's just my opinion.) And Achill Island is heavenly in good weather. If the weather is bad (foggy or really rainy) it can be very bleak.

The day you drive from Westport through Enniskillen, Omagh and Dungannon to Downpatrick sounds like a stretch, especially if you intend to see things along the way such as the Ulster American Folk Park. I guess you'll be up at the crack of dawn on your travel days!

Presently I can personally recommend B&Bs in Bushmills and Westport, however the one in Bushmills is 25 pounds per person. Perhaps Jim's recommendation will suit you instead. The three of you will probably be able to stay in one room in lots of places. Many B&Bs have "family rooms" which have a double and single or two doubles and a single--various configurations--depending on the B&B. Many will also provide a roll-away bed. In Belfast you might consider Jurys, which has room rates (not per person) of 65 pounds. That's just a tiny bit over your 20 pound limit but each room can sleep three adults.

I'm sure you will have more questions as your trip gets closer and we will all be around to help out.

Michele

jstangl

08/23/00 8:28 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
kathycollins and Michele:
Carnside is an old farmhouse on a working farm and they will probably be able to accommodate a party of 3. We did enjoy our stay there - amongst the sheep and the cows. That was two years ago and at the time it was 16-17 pound sterling/person. It was very close to the Giant's Causeway.
Jim


Nano
08/25/00 5:03 PM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
First post to Michelle's new web-site..
Remember me???This is really a great site!!!
We are planning a trip for 2003...Want to go to Northern Ireland this time..Any ideas??


IrelandExpert
(Community Owner)
08/26/00 1:05 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi Nano,

Of course I remember you! Welcome to my new forum and thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

2003--you have lots of time for planning and we will all have plenty of ideas and tips for you. As I mentioned in a previous posting, I will be in No. Ireland this autumn and will definitely have lots of feedback for everyone. I will also be starting an e-zine on this site (with photos) about our favorite subject: traveling to Ireland. So stay tuned. I think I should come up with a "Top 10 List for Northern Ireland". What does everyone think of that? First two right off the top of my head: Giant's Causeway, Kinbane Castle. Anyone else care to post their top 10? Darren...Jim?

Michele


jstangl

08/26/00 7:13 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Michele and others:
We only spent a day and a half in Northern Ireland but based on that limited time here is my top 6:
1. Giant's Causeway - really an impressive place
2. Dunluce Castle - very photogenic
3. Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge - fun
4. Mussenden Temple
5. Downhill House - we shared the old ruins with a herd of cows during a sudden storm
6. Bushmills Inn for dinner and atmosphere. On our next trip we hope to explore the Glens of Antrim and Downpatrick (the reputed home of the graves of St Patrick, St Bridget and St Columba, I believe).
Jim


IrelandExpert
(Community Owner)
08/27/00 10:52 PM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thanks Jim. You are braver than me if you did Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. I'm afraid I don't like heights and prefer to have my feet planted firmly on the ground. I did surprise my husband by climbing a mountain in Ireland but that's another story.

Michele


kathycollins

08/28/00 4:31 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Darren A, Thanks for your suggestions - I am probably going to alter my plans somewhat in order to take advantage of some of them! I've decided from what you and Michele have to say that I'm really trying to do too much - and this is supposed to be a leasurely vacation. New plans are to do 2 days instead of one on Antrim coast. I think I'll just stay near Cushendall or Cushendun for both nights instead of one night in the Glens, one at Bushmills. I have the NITB B&B guide, but any suggestions for a place with a view and within walking distance of a pub with friday/saturday sessions?
During the week in our thatched cottage in Ardara we'll spend a day going to Boa Island, Femanagh, try to find Lough Navar Forest Park, maybe venture off the Omagh and the Ulster-American Folk park.And visit much of Donegal during the week.
Last few days we'll spend in Co.Down...Where is Spelga Dam?? You've peaked my curiosity! I've also ordered Silver Linings - which isn't listed on any webserver search engine I tried here, but I did access the AmazonUK site and find it!
I'll save Achill Island, Mayo, and Sligo til next trip! Thanks for all the hints and travel advice.
kathy

DarrenA

08/28/00 5:36 PM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi Kathy (are you the same Kathy Collins as is on Ireland for Visitors???).

Unfortunately I'm not an expert on B&Bs around the Cushendall/Cushendun area, as I grew up not so far from there and never needed to stay in one!

Spelga Dam is in the Mourne Mountains, on a small road from Hilltown to the middle of the Mournes (you can also get to it from Silent Valley reservoir, which is another place I forgot to mention) - it's not hard to find, as there are only 2 roads in the Mournes!

And I would suggest you do Connemara on your next trip - I've just spent a weekend there - superb place.


IrelandExpert
(Community Owner)
08/28/00 7:22 PM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi Kathy,

I'm glad that you are taking everyone's advice to slow down a little. You will enjoy your trip much more. I'm a great advocate of having a "home base" in strategic areas and then doing day trips from them. In that way you avoid remembering your trip as "a green blur". It's also a lot easier on your back not hauling suitcases around all the time.

While you are planning your trip to Ireland I'm doing the same. In fact I have several B&Bs earmarked to look at in many of the places that you have mentioned in your postings, among them Cushendun and Cushendall. So I should have some good suggestions for you later in the year.

I do have one comment about the prices of B&Bs in Northern Ireland: they tend to be a bit more expensive than in the Republic of Ireland and when you consider that their prices are in pounds sterling, that makes them a little dearer still. So you may want to consider that when budgeting.

Definitely see the Ulster American Folk Park. You can easily spend half a day there. And the Fermanagh area is just lovely. For a wonderful drive take the A46, which skirts the south side of Lower Lough Erne. You will find Lough Navar off that road. Boa Island is well worth a visit to see the stone idols. It's a little difficult to find. You need to look for a sign that says "Caldragh", which is the name of the cemetery that they are in.

Darren, I agree with you about Connemara. It's fabulous, though not all Americans appreciate it. I came across a group of them that had just been there and dismissed it as "just rocks and sheep". I guess they couldn't see beyond the rocks and sheep to the special mystical beauty of the place.

Michele


jstangl

08/29/00 5:30 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I don't see how anyone can say it is nothing but "rocks and sheep"! That's sadly funny.
Jim


jstangl

08/29/00 5:29 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Coonemara does have its own beauty. Frankly, it was really neat sharing the roads with the sheep!
Jim

jstangl

08/29/00 5:23 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Coonemara is well worth a visit. I was totally fascinated by the landscape and the subtle and not so subtle colorations. We hope to spend a bit more time there on our next visit.
DarrenA - I envy your being able to see all of these places on weekend visits. I think that is the 41st shade of green!
Jim


IrelandExpert
(Community Owner)
08/30/00 2:05 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jim,

You're right it is sadly funny that those people couldn't see past the rocks and sheep. I guess they would have been happy to see a Burger King behind every rock! There's no accounting for taste--or the lack of it. Every time I visit Connemara I see a new facet of its everchanging beauty and the quotes about it being an "impressionist's landscape" are true.

I'm rather "green with envy" that Darren can just visit Connemara or any other interesting corner of Ireland on a weekend whim, too. But I guess I'll just have to settle on visiting twice a year. I can't wait to get back to see my friends--who are really like family now--after all these years!

Michele

kathycollins

09/10/00 10:49 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I'm the same kathycollins as on Ireland for visitors about.com website. I also post on virtualtourist, too. I find that the more sources of information I have, the more suggestions I get - it helps planning immensely!
My first trip we spent 3 days in Connemara. It truly is a magically beautiful place! I think its a shame that some people only see Kylemore Abbey and then think they've explored Connemara! The Sky Road loop is wonderful. We spent one day walking in the National park.Leenane, on the way to Cong, is a lovely town - like a scene from a movie - picture perfect! And I'm interested in herbs, so I specifically wanted to visit the Sheep and Wool museum in Leenane to ask about natural dyeing of wool and they were very helpful.

This trip (my third) is to explore the northern third of the island - Donegal and Northern Ireland. I read Silver Linings by Martin Fletcher - it should be required reading for anyone wanting to travel to Northern Ireland! Great descriptions of the places which really made me want to visit- and detailed descriptions of people and events that make you want to laugh, and to cry. I really appreciate the impact of the troubles on ordinary people - the pain and pathos, the reasons for the pain, and the need for the peace process to succeed. I pray that the economic revival of tourism will help revitalize the committment to the peace process. God bless all the peoples of Ireland with peace!
I couldn't find the book listed on any search engine when I tried to buy it, but when I entered the Amazon.uk website I found it right away - and I received it in a couple of days.
The book mentions Killyleagh Castle, and its owner, Denys Rowan-Hamilton. I found a website for the castle, which has self-catering apartments in its 17th and 19th century towers that can be letted for 2 or 3 night or by the week. Next spring I'll let you know how staying in the castle went! The three of us are staying there for 3 nights!

IrelandExpert
(Community Owner)
09/29/00 10:34 PM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi Kathy,

I'm just back from Northern Ireland and must say that Killyleagh Castle is very impressive from the outside (it's not open to the public) and is set in a delightful small town. I will look forward to hearing all about your adventures self-catering in a castle!!

Some places not to miss: Mount Stewart House and Gardens (you could easily spend the whole day there) and Castle Ward (the gardens are not impressive but the house is quite interesting and the tour is excellent).

Michele


kathycollins

10/04/00 8:33 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi, Michelle!
I'm sure you have lots to tell about your Northern Ireland trip. If you want a volunteer proof-reader to review the NI chapter, just email it to me! I can't wait to read what you have to say! I am anxiously looking forward to hearing your input. I'm waiting to hear what you say before booking B&Bs in the Antrim coast area.
The hospital I work for is having a nurses strike right now, so my traveling companions and I are out of work temporarily, so it will be vitally important to us to keep costs DOWN.
kathy

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

DarrenA

10/04/00 6:29 PM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Michele,

Did you get the woman with the REALLY posh accent doing the Castleward tour?


IrelandExpert
(Community Owner)
10/05/00 12:56 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi Darren,

No, the woman who gave the Castle Ward tour didn't have a really posh accent but she must have been a frustrated actress because she acted out certian scenes from the house's history and was quite amusing. I enjoyed hearing what a house guest thought about the fantastical ceiling in the boudoir: "It's like sitting under a cow's udder." I also thought it was interesting that some of the plasterwork was found to be "fake" when under restoration. It seems that real musical instruments like a violin, etc. were dipped in plaster and attatched to the wall with no one the wiser back then. Hmmm...good idea...think of all the plasterwork I could put into my two story foyer. It might increase the value of my house!

Michele


IrelandExpert
(Community Owner)
10/05/00 1:14 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi Kathy,

Thanks for offering to proof the Northern Ireland section of my book. You must have way too much time on your hands! But it will give you more time for surfing around the net for info on Ireland.

I didn't find any suitable B&Bs in Cushendun or Cushendall, though I looked. I really must spend even more time there next trip. But I found lovely B&Bs in Downpatrick, outside Newtonards and in Bushmills. My favorite was a three hundred year old farmhouse covered in vines that was once part of the Mount Stewart estate. It was lovingly restored inside and filled with antiques and every modern convenience (20 pounds per person!). In the outbuildings the owner's husband had a vast collection of antique farming equipment, tractors, harvesters, etc. There was also a self-catering cottage adjacent to the house. My husband didn't want to leave.

Two weeks was not long enough. I really could have used two months instead. Maybe when my husband takes early retirement.

Michele


kathycollins

10/05/00 9:04 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Michelle,
We're staying at Killyleagh Castle while in Co.Down, so I'll save that sugggestion for another time!
Did you happen to see a B&B called "the Meadows" in Cushendall. It's advertised (www.ireland-holidays.net/accommod/meadows/index.htm) as winner of NI B&B of the year 1998. We're thinking of that one as a possibility.
Anyone else know of this place?
thanks
kathy


IrelandExpert
(Community Owner)
10/06/00 1:19 AM

RE: Northern Ireland & Donegal, June 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kathy,

I did stop by the Meadows B&B in Cushendall but no one was at home so I couldn't inspect it. From the outside it looked very nice and I did glimpse a bedroom through the window. The room seemed in good order, but of course it's impossible to say how clean it was or what the bathroom was like without actually going inside and looking. I may try again in the spring, when I will be in Ireland once more. So be sure to tune in again before your trip as I may have more suggestions that will not be in my book till 2002!

As you can see looking at B&Bs can be very frustrating as many of the owners are not at home when I stop by. This happens very frequently even at times when someone should be there to accept guests.

Michele

__________________

"Ireland Expert"  Michele Erdvig

Click links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland Itinerary

Visit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.

Page 1 of 1  sorted by
Quick Reply

Please log in to post quick replies.

Tweet this page Post to Digg Post to Del.icio.us


Create your own FREE Forum
Report Abuse
Powered by ActiveBoard