Irish Tales Part 1: Adventures in the Grand Northwest

Ireland. If you deconstruct the sound of the word Ireland, it sounds very similar to Island. Ireland is an Island but had you not seen its splotch on a grand old map with a birds eye view, you would never be able to tell.

Modernization, the internet and budget travel options connect us in ways that bring down the barriers that islands previously imposed. One person’s barrier is another’s comfortable safe haven however.

Malin Head, Inishoen Peninsula

Malin Head on the Innishoen Peninsula is the northern tip of Ireland. Some of the rocky areas feel like another planet. Standing at the edge of Malin head overlooking the crashing North Atlantic waves wakes you to the wondrous treachery of the ocean. A sharp wind tearing through the countryside seems intent on knocking sheep into kingdom come, or sweeping visitors off across the North Atlantic.

Malin Head crevice Malin head point

Slieve League Cliffs

We were instructed as we arrived at the docks for our marine expedition that we would need to leave immediately, or might not at all on account of the changing weather.

Slieve League Cliffs Boat Docks

Leaving Harbour Slieve League

We departed for Slieve League cliffs on a little fishing boat and the rough waves rocked our boat from side to side. The “ack, I just might die” feeling has arisen before on boats of various size and capability. A body reacts to the uneasiness of the ocean throwing you around with tension. This tension kicks your human instinct for survival into gear. Without this tension, perhaps you would casually make a mistake and topple over the edge into the icy white-capped waters.


After 30 minutes holding on for dear life and taking pictures and video of fiercely rugged cliffs with low white misty fog-like clouds, we rounded a bend into a calm bay. A family of dolphins hopped out of the water and came within a few meters of the boat. Some of our brave group sported wet suits and took a dip in the Atlantic. The dolphins started out keeping a distance, but came eventually quite close to the two boats. Slieve League is among the highest cliffs in Europe and an awesome sight.

Slieve League Dolphins

Swimming in Slieve League

Strandhill Beach, Sligo County

Voya Seaweed Baths is a stone’s throw from surf schools, shells cafe and Strandhill beach. If you fancy a stop in the northern part of the Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland’s coast, this one is worth the time.

Seawater is used in the baths together with cleaned and prepared seaweeds directly from the waters near Sligo. A private steam/shower accompanies the bath treatment in each room. Two friends who had been to Sligo recommended these baths, and I will now add my name to the list. The tub contained a seaweed preparation in several inches of warmish water. To this you add your own combination of hot or cold water, to your own design. The mixture in the tub was a gelatinous transparent thick solution with a very slight  colored tint in it.

There was surprisingly little smell to the solution which made for a pleasant soak in the bath as an ocean-waves soundtrack played in the background dissolving one’s every tensions.


Sligo Beach Sunset Sligo Surfers


Dinner in Buncrana

“Hello, you’re all very welcome,” Our group was greeted as we poured over the menu picking out the items for our starters and dinner.

We decide on a cross section of appetizers to sample the best and share what Ubiquitous restaurant had to offer. Sole stuffed pastry. Spring rolls. Deep fried shrimps. Deliciousness.

After these, a filling dinner, tasty desserts and some irish coffees, a group photo outside attracted the attention of the passerby’s car horns. Perhaps they just wanted the cameraman to clear way. We piled into a local pub afterwards where locals sang along with the live entertainment as glasses clinked, pints flowed and one from our group tried to negotiate a bet involving dancing in a traditional irish costume while someone played spoons on her. This deal fell through. Guinness sometimes does not aid in negotiation ability. Our short time in the hospitable town of Buncrana, came to an end too soon.

Grianan of Ailigh 

This ancient stone monument roughly 10km’s from Derry/Londonderry was believed to have been constructed sometime in the 5th century BC as a Pagan temple, later being adopted by the Christians. The O’Neil clan used it as a royal residence for many centuries. The sweeping views of the area would easily attract both royal and religious associations.

To be continued in: Irish Tales Part 2

Grianan of Ailigh Grianan of Ailigh Grianan of Ailigh wall Aileach4

9 thoughts on “Irish Tales Part 1: Adventures in the Grand Northwest

  1. Good post with lots of highlights – brings back all those memories! 🙂 I like that you included music, and I really like your photos (didn’t know you caught us in a selfie LOL!) And please do the black & white series of Ireland! 🙂

  2. Love all the pictures! And that you captured that crazy wind at Malin Head. It made me cold just watch it! 🙂

    Also, I think I missed how incredibly green Grianan of Ailigh was. I think I was hiding from the wind there as well, but these pictures of the stonework + Irish green are magical! 🙂

    • Thanks Allison- I think Grianan had some great angles you could shoot. Its very photogenic and the Irish green was very memorable all over Ireland for me.

    • Thanks Tammy! Wouldn’t going back on a more leisurely schedule be awesome? To actually taste the Irish Coffee before Josephine herded us back to the blogger-mobile.

  3. Just to go off free with my big ‘doggie’…makes a man as happy as can be !!!
    Why I would be praising God for Erie…and the great Salvation in Our Lord…
    and I would be inviting everyone I could see…and please to come ‘on-board’!
    Mi DA’ is from Galway, Roscommon and the Aran Islands. My Granda’ was the Police Chief for the Aran Islands…a Member of the R.I.C. (Royal Irish Constable),
    and he fought in the Black & Tan, was a martial arts champion, and had a fierce Irish temper ! hahaha

  4. Great photos. I was impressed by the intense wind at Slieve League Cliffs, and how brave they were to get into the water. Was the climate as cold as it seems? By the way, thanks for liking my post “Ventura Harbor Village & Fishing Marina”.
    Kind greetings,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s