Sunday, June 9, 2013

The ring of Malin. Of forts and crabs and a chef that fed Mrs Thatcher!

The ring of Malin. Of forts and crabs, 
and a chef that fed Mrs Thatcher!

Donegal Diary - Day 2
Quite often on holidays, I've been lucky with the weather. Today, I was privileged. The weather gods were at their collective kindest as I did the circle of the beautiful Inishowen Peninsula in the North East of Donegal.
Fish too played a major role today. Firstly at the SeaviewTavern  in Malin Head, the tavern found only because we took a wrong turn. 

Here the Head Chef was none other than Roland Heuston. During the Thatcher reign, Roland spent five years at the head of the House of Commons chefs and House of Commons chefs and later played a similar key role in Stormont. Must say his platter of local seafood (see pic) was divine as was the starter of Crab Bisque (€4.50)
The Seaview platter!
Proprietor Michael had time for a chat with all his lunchtime tables and he called twice to us. The food was class and so too were the staff in this excellent restaurant, well equipped inside, even if it has a corrugated roof.

Crab was also the final meal of the day as our hostess at our cottage had too much for her own needs and handed us a pot of them - and the hammer to crack them open. A bottle of Campo Viejo Reserva (2007) was put to good use as we tucked into the claws while sitting on a long stone seat facing the sun.
Mamore Gap
The sun had been with us also as we passed through beautiful Buncrana earlier in the day and then when we arrived at Fort Dunree that once guarded Lough Swilly against the French but is now  a military museum. Pity that it wasn't open until 1.00pm and quite a few customers were disappointed.

On the way to Malin Head, we passed through the spectacular Mamore Gap with great views out to the ocean. Strange offerings at a small collection of religious statues just below the pass, everything from socks to a toothbrush, even an Elvis Presley cigarette lighter. Don’t know the story there.
Malin drive
We had decided to do the Malin trip because of the possible change in the weather and we got some terrific views by following the Inishowen 100 signs. The head itself, with no facilities and the ugly remains of some old watch towers, wasn’t the greatest and we didn’t linger too long there. But the village below and its beaches, not to mention the Seaview, were fantastic.

Indeed, the lunch at the Seaview was the highlight of our trip down the eastern side, which overlooks Lough Foyle. Moville was another little town that we called to and here the people were making the best of the glorious weather, walking along the seaside paths and paddling in the pleasantly warm waters.

Grianan of Aileach
Soon we, almost without knowing it, ended up in Northern Ireland – the 40 mile per hour limit signs gave it away. But it was the briefest of moments and soon we were heading away from the Foyle Bridge towards Grianan of Aileach, our second fort of the day.

This was open. It is situated in a place called Burt, just off the Derry-Letterkenny Road. It is 800 feet above sea level and gives great views of the Foyle, Lough Swilly and the nearby countryside. It seems that there has been a fort on this site for about 1500 years but substantial restoration work was carried out in 1870. Today, the site is a National Monument and a tourist attraction and entrance is free.

Visit finished, we soon rejoined the main road and arrived in Downies an hour later to be surprised by the gift of crabs. Surprised and delighted. Another long day. Reckon tomorrow’s post could be much shorter – but you never know!
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