Posts Tagged ‘donegal’

Day 4: Donegal Castle, The Dubliners (sadly not in person), Rossnowlagh Beach and Yeats’ Grave

We started today with a leisurely walk (and shopping!) around the town of Donegal, seat of the county of Donegal. When we’d killed enough time and spent enough money, we hared off to the castle there, which was built around 1494, but upon a site dating back much further at the very least to a Viking stronghold in 900. The first Red Hugh O’Donnell was an Gaelic chieftan who could trace his lineage all the way back to Niall of the Nine Hostages, who I had to look up once I was home and who had a very colorful history. Eventually, it was taken over by another Red Hugh, who burned it to the ground at the end of the Nine Years War to keep it from falling into English hands…which, of course, it did anyway. Thus Captain Basil Brooke and his family took over, rebuilt, and added a manor house, which they later left when they were granted larger holding in Ulster. I was amused that they took the roof with them to avoid England’s roof tax (as one does, apparently, because this wasn’t the only time we heard this story!)

We stopped at a music shop in Donegal before leaving to buy good Irish music, since the few radio stations seemed to have talk, country (the country seemed obsessed with country music) or weird pop-rap. Okay, I know “weird” is judgmental, but let’s just say not our cup of tea. We bought a three disk set of The Dubliners, and thank goodness for that! Perhaps our favorite song on the disks was “The Sick Note”. Trust me, it’s worth the listen.

Then we were off to Rossnowlagh Beach, which was recommended to us by a very nice woman at the hotel. It was, as you can see, beautiful, but also windy and a I couldn’t have imagined being in the water (chilly), but many people were, some learning to surf. Also, there were many cute dogs being walked. A beautiful seaside resort area.

Then, of course, we had to visit Yeats’ grave. We were warned that it wasn’t that the grave itself was so impressive as that, well, it was something that probably had to be done and that there was a lovely tea shop nearby. She was right that the grave was not impressive of itself. Yeats had died and was buried initially in France but he was later (per the wishes he’d expressed) moved and reburied in Drumcliff, Ireland at a church where a relative (grandfather or great grandfather, I forget) had been rector. There are rumors, though, that the body that made it back wasn’t Yeats’…or at least not his entirely!

If you’re not familiar with Yeats, you have to read A Dialogue of Self and Soul for a taste. Yes, have to. I’m bossy like that.

We did have a very nice lunch at the tea room, as advertised, and then went on a search for neolithic passage tombs in Manorhamilton, County Leitrim…. To be continued!

Interlude: evening of Day 3: Napoleonic anchor and Franciscan Abbey in Donegal Town

I realized in going over my pictures from the trip that I neglected to post about the end of day three, which involved the anchor from a Napoleonic ship and might…hypothetically…have involved us jumping a stone wall when we somehow missed the entrance (or even the road) leading to the old abbey in Donegal (despite the fact that you could see it from where we’d eaten dinner).

Yeah, I have no sense of direction. For those who know me, this comes as no surprise.

The anchor came off the Romaine, a frigate from a small fleet Napoleon sent to help the Irish against the British in 1798.  Unfortunately, the ships were spotted by watchers loyal to England and sunk or captured.  See how well my husband wears it on his arm and my pretty poor attempt to look like a pin-up girl.  Not to self: do not give up day job.

Anyway, the abbey was certainly worth seeing. According to sources, it was built in 1474 by Hugh O’Donnell (the Irish did like their Hughs) and Wiki says it “withstood ransacking, burning and ravaging before it was finally abandoned in the early part of the 17th century.” The cemetery, however, was not abandoned, and continued in use for many, many years. The abbey was apparently the place where the Annals of the Four Masters was written to preserve as much as possible of the Celtic culture and history of Ireland, which, it seemed, the English had tried pretty hard to stamp out.

I am now determined to get my hands on an edition.