The following is a guest post by Nick Gilmartin. Here’s a bit of info about him: Ever since he inherited his father’s old Zenit 35mm he has been fascinated by photography and digital art. He has traveled widely and has a long love affair with the Greek Islands. He is based in the Midlands with his partner. In his spare time he likes to cook, mix cocktails and takes photographs of both.
Of all Ireland’s counties, Donegal is the beauty of the family. The most northern county of the Republic of Ireland is the home of some breath-taking coastline, rugged, colourful people and huge imposing mountains. Not only is it gorgeous, it is physical. There is mountaineering, horse-riding, scuba-diving and the best surfing in Ireland. Added to this, the adrenaline of the Donegal International Rally every summer. All of this amounts to one of the most exciting places in Ireland to visit.
Surprisingly few films have been made there but it does boast some famous names from the world of music. Clannad, Enya, Daniel O’Donnell. Also hailing from this green and pleasant land comes Shay Given, the Irish goalkeeper, Frank McGuinness, the playwright, and their current deputy Prime Minister, Mary Coughlan.
The Blue Stack Mountains stand sentinel over the gateway to Donegal town. These dark shapes loom out of the mist, purple and menacing, as you drive up the N15 from Eitrim. It is not hard to imagine Gaelic warriors on horseback awaiting the latest fools who dared to enter their land. There is a mountain track leading up to the hostel from where you can explore the peaks and the views.
Glengesh Pass is located off the N56, head west and follow the track. This valley was cleaved wide open by a glacier sometime back in the ice ages. The whole valley looks like it was sculpted by God on one of his more creative days. There simply are not enough shades of green to paint it, so only a photographer can capture it’s true image.
The Atlantic Drive should only be taken at 10 miles an hour. Not because the road is bad, but because there is so much to see and you wouldn’t want to miss anything. It is like someone adjusted your eyes to Widescreen, there is just so much to take in. Rugged rocks, beached fishing boats, nets and lobster pots are strewn over sandy coves and outlets.
Glenveagh National Park is one of the widest open national parks in Ireland, it is a 16,000 acre photographer’s playground. It comes completely crammed with lakes, waterfalls, magical castles, trees of every description, and many kinds of Wildlife. What more do you want? Leprechauns?
leaving aside landscapes for a minute, for some shots of the locals doing their thing check out Killybegs. This town is the hub of the Donegal fishing fleet, full of bustle and noise from sun up to sun down and then some. Look out for the rugged fishing sorts with the weathered faces and beards encrusted with sea salt. See the boats and equipment, just as weathered as the men and women in
them. Observe pub life, musicians and pub goers all full of songs and stories of times gone by and friends lost to the pounding waves. We recommend you see the fish markets, crammed with seafood as fresh as you can possibly get.
But for action, Donegal has one main event, and that is the Donegal International Car Rally. This hair-raising jamboree of Petrolheadedness has been tearing up the tracks nearly every year since 1972. As part of the Rally of Europe tournament, it is considered one of the most challenging rally stages in Ireland. It attracts, annually, top class rally drivers from all over the globe and is worth twenty million euro to the Donegal economy every year. In terms of colour, drama and hair-raising
action, you cannot beat it.
So for colour, vibrancy and breathtaking landscape, Discover Donegal, Ireland.