There was a Tourist Board television advertisement for Ireland in the late 1970’s and 80’s, which had the tagline ‘Ireland: You Haven’t Seen The Half of It’.
My Dad took this as a direct challenge and vowed that we would see the half of it and more! Every weekend, bank holiday and summer, myself, my Mum and Dad and the dog, were crammed into the car, touring caravan hitched on the back and set off, often with no particular destination in mind to every corner of this beautiful country.
I like to think I’ve seen a lot of Ireland and was sure that there wasn’t a spot in Donegal where I hadn’t been, but I was proved wrong. On holiday in Rathmullan on the north-west coast of Ireland last week, we discovered the stunning Portsalon beach. Who knew that a mere three hour drive from my house is the world’s second most beautiful beach, as voted by The Observer and beaten only by a beach in the Seychelles!
Sometimes you don’t see the beauty on your front door and with temperatures reaching a blistering 30 degrees last week we could have been anywhere! We paddled in the sea, ate too much, found the greatest junk shop I have ever seen, took a boat trip round Lough Swilly, watched Frozen every day and, of course, had the obligatory pints of Guinness.
So the smoke went up from Rathmullen;
And beyond the trail of the smoke
Was a great deep fiery abyss
Of molten gold in the sky,
And it set a far track up the waters
Ablaze with gold like its own.
Over the fire of the sea,
Over the chasm in the sky,
My spirit as by a bridge
Of wonder went wandering on,
And lost its way in the heaven.
The ship is out on the lake,
The fisherman stands on the deck.
Rosy and violet sea;
Delicate haze in the distance;
Woodlands softer than summers;
Great golden eye of intense,
Concentrated, marvellous light
From A Fine Day on Lough Swilly by Archbishop William Alexander
The weather was so lovely that we got to sit out every evening with a glass of wine and a book, so my 20 Books of Summer Challenge got a much needed boost as I read the sublime (The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell), the ridiculous (Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins) and the downright perplexing (Just Kids by Patti Smith)!
Reviews will follow in the next week but for now I’m still basking in a little bit of that holiday glow!