Donegal. Gosh. I just don’t know where to begin.
I’ve been here a week now. Well 8 days when I include my drive last Friday to see Slieve League and the Glengesh Pass then my night in Ardara down in southern Donegal.
It’s been one full week here in Dunfanaghy.
I just love it here.
Now, let me be clear.
It’s not been particularly warm just yet with the exception of the day I arrived in Dunfanaghy (last Saturday). I feel as though I’ve been pretty much in perpetual winter-ish weather. Not that it’s been that cold. But it feels more like early March than early April.
However I’m not complaining.
I mean…it’s gorgeous here. Even in shit weather!
And I simply love the people.
The Irish in general are known to be very warm and friendly. And they are.
But some of folks here in Donegal have been exceptionally kind.
Laurence and Fiona at Gort na Mona B&B in Ardara are fab. Laurence definitely has the Irish gift of gab! He’s so proud of Donegal and was eager to share his family’s story and to offer advice on places to visit.
And there’s Eileen and Neil at The Green Man, an organic/whole foods shop here in Dunfanaghy that I’ve been to twice so far. We’ve chatted about all kinds of things including the whole “you can’t sell alcohol on Good Friday” thing. Neil doesn’t believe they’ll allow the sale of it next year…at least not until it actually happens!
Then, I met Phillip on Tuesday evening while out at Arnou for dinner.
Arnou is a burger place that is part of Arnolds Hotel which is THE hotel in Dunfanaghy.
Well I was there on Tuesday having a veggie burger because, yes, despite it being a burger place — in Ireland — they do have a very good veggie burger.
Anyway, I was finishing up and the man next to me — who was with his teenage/adult children — began to talk to me. We chatted a bit about where I was from, how I came to be in Dunfanaghy, etc.
He then said they were going to have drinks at the Oyster, one of the pubs in town. They were actually celebrating his birthday. He invited me to join them.
So I thought, what the heck.
He was a nice man and it was his birthday.
I met them there about 10 minutes later and had a wonderful time. His 2 sons are of age, so they were having beers. HIs daughter was only 15. I met some other friends who were in the pub too.
Phillip is actually from southern Donegal, near Killybegs which is a big fishing town that I mentioned. And Phillip is indeed into salmon fishing.
He was wonderful to talk to. We discussed travel, life, politics, Ireland, America. It was great fun.
His kids were friendly too. I spoke mostly to his younger son who is in college. He seemed to be an adventurous young man. I could tell all three are intelligent young people, much like their father. And they were all so kind to a complete stranger.
And for one night — just that one night because I took that chance and took someone up on the offer — I felt like a local.
This is the wonderful gift of travel.
It’s that chance meeting.
It’s being open to a conversation.
And it’s being brave enough to accept that invitation.
That night will be one of my most memorable, I’m sure. And it was just an hour or so.
A fleeting moment, really, when you think about it.
But I know I will forever remember it.
So if you are traveling to Donegal, or anywhere else in Ireland — or anywhere else in the world, remember:
It”ll be worth it!