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Shandon Hotel + Marble Hill Beach Dunfanaghy Donegal

A Country Kilometre

There’s a wee drop of aul’ rain in Lifford and it’s bucketin’ in Letterkenny so it is, but by the time we get to Marble Hill the sun is splittin’ the trees. It’s gone from Baltic to boilin’ so it has. All in good time for a dead on wee bite of lunch in Shandon’s overlookin’ the empty beach with not a wee’ne in sight. It’s dead posh. Not like the Carrig Rua Hotel in Dunfanaghy which is dunderin’ inn. Anyone up for a wee trip in Bert’s boat later on Killahoey Beach?

Running out of Ulsterisms it’s time to enjoy a celebratory pescatarian feast in Shandon Hotel which has had the greatest revivification since avocados were mere vegetables or fruit or whatever they used to be. There are views and there are views and there’s the framed golden strand of Marble Hill with the white tipped frothy spray of waves almost lapping up to our table. Across the water on the far side of Sheephaven Bay lies Downings.

Next stop the jolly town of Dunfanaghy. It’s all abuzz around the august Market House. “This Building was erected by Alex Rob Stewart of Ards House AD 1845,” marks a plaque between its first floor windows. On the ground things are more relaxed. There’s a coffee bar, antiques store and yoga venue. And a farmers’ market in the Diamond in front of the Market House.

Opposite the Diamond is McAuliffe’s Craft Shop. It has evolved over four generations of the same family since opening in 1920 as Sweeney’s Drapery. Romantic Stories and Legends of Donegal by Harry Percival Swan, 1965, is one of several local interest books for sale. It opens with, “Donegal calls you. Situated in the North Western corner of Ireland it is one of the most fascinating playgrounds in these islands. It is part of the nine Counties of Ulster, and is the largest County in the Province (1,865 square miles). Donegal belongs to Eire, but is separated from it by County Fermanagh. Donegal’s key note is variety.”

Architecture Country Houses

Downings Donegal + Modernism

Above the Radar

Meekness and majesty, mistiness and mystery. Clinging onto the Atlantic coast, notwithstanding its tonal contextualism, this villa with the mildest of butterfly roofs, an angularity at odds with the contours of its setting, is a reminder that modernism once reached the furthest corners of the earth.


Carrigart Hotel Donegal + Soufflé

Fair Dos | No Bother 

Carrigart Hotel Donegal © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“The Carrigart Hotel was dead fancy! It really was The Place To Go To. They even served soufflé!”

Country Houses Luxury

The Atlantic Drive Donegal + Downings

Existential and Pragmatic Reality

The Atlantic Drive Rosguill © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

So many peninsulae, so little time. Nowhere does the magnetic draw of Donegal pull more strongly than Downings and its radial route of suspense, The Atlantic Drive. Ethereal expanses of shining sand, at once quotidian and crystalline, measureless strands bordered by the foam lipped waves of a constantly shifting sea, dunes intermittently reflected in the pellucid waters, journeying mercies on borrowed time. Soon, the glooming will come, dimpsey hour. We were like those who dream.

The Atlantic Drive Downings © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The Atlantic Drive Donegal © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The Atlantic Drive Rosguill Peninsula © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The Atlantic Drive County Donegal © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley