Summer 1997 Kelley and I traveled to Ireland for five weeks. Our honeymoon in 1989 had been two weeks in London and Edinburgh. This was our first trip to Ireland.
Either Let’s Go, Lonely Planet or Rough Guide had a statement that if you wanted to see old Ireland, then go to County Donegal.
After a couple of days visiting Dublin we headed north to County Donegal.
Horses were a big part of our Ireland trips. Kelley always approached Travellers, the Irish gypsies we saw in some towns with their wagon near a church or some public grounds where they would park for days and weeks. Kelley always made a point to stop and talk to the Travellers and visit with their horses.
Shelter from the Storm in the Kilclooney dolmen. One of our most intense Irish moments that both of us remember as a couple experience occurred June 30, 2007. We had already been in County Donegal a couple of weeks. We had hiked to this dolmen, a megalithic tomb from 3,500 B.C. While standing around the dolmen the weather went rapidly downhill into a downpour. Kelley and I felt the coldest summer day of our lives hiking across the boggy fields in the hills over Gweebarra Bay, County Donegal outside Narin and Portnoo. We sheltered beneath the dolmen rocks for an hour talking, shouting over the thunderous sound of rainfall.
The balancing act of Kilclooney dolmen.
On the walk back to town in brilliant sun a puppy found us and tagged along for several miles. There was no immediate house nearby for us to trace the pup back to its home.
A car stopped on the narrow road cutting through the green grassy hills over Gweebarra Bay. An American family with a girl about ten years old in the backseat wanted to know if we could point out the island of Roaninish. We were walking with a dog, so they probably thought we were locals.
Actually I could point out Roaninish, even though I had only been around Gweebarra Bay two days.
Google Maps of Roaninish and County Donegal.
Their interest stemmed from the 1994 John Sayles movie ‘The Secret of Roan Inish” that still holds high ratings in movie reviews. The movie is a fantasy film about a 10-year old Irish girl who moves to a small fishing village in County Donegal and learns about the Selkies, seals who can change into humans.
Aside from the Kilclooney Dolmen, the photos in this piece are Ireland, but not necessarily County Donegal. 1997-98 were several years before I had a digital camera and these are random photos from my Ireland trips.
The summer of 1997 we traveled County Donegal and across Northern Ireland. In summer 1998 we toured County Cork and Kerry from Kinsale to the Dingle Peninsula.
I walked a couple hundred miles each of the two summers we toured Ireland.
The world is vast. I have not been back to Ireland since 1998.
But I have always felt my two summers in Ireland made me a little bit Irish.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
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