Maghera Beach,, Donegal, Ireland

Bob and Brenda Ryan, VA, USA

We wanted to go on a bike trip in late May 2015, but couldn’t decide where to go – France, Italy, or Spain – maybe Ireland.  We knew that the weather would most likely be great in the first 3 countries and would most likely be bad in Ireland.  So why choose Ireland?

In a nutshell:

Wow! The scenery is stunning, beautiful, incomparable – especially the sea cliffs.
Seamus is an amazing host.  Words do not do justice.
The weather was challenging (rain, hail, wind, but also sun).
The people of Ireland are gracious, welcoming, and they take care of you – you have to experience it to believe it!

My wife and I were on the 11-day Cycling and Walking Tour in late May 2015.  Compared to other bike trips in France and Italy it was both easier (terrain) and harder (weather).  We were in Donegal during an unusually cold and wet May, or so we were told.  And yes, you do hear “no one comes to Ireland for the weather” an awful lot.

But regardless of the weather (or maybe because of it), people were exceptionally friendly and welcoming — almost beyond reason.  At two different B&Bs when we came in from the elements wet and cold, we were immediately taken care of by wonderful innkeepers (Rosaleen in Glenties and Geraldine in Glencolmcille).  And I mean taken care of: we were placed near a peat fire, had our wet clothes dried, and provided with scones and hot tea.  Afterwards, all was well in the world.

Donegal is a very special place. It is a generally quiet place, visually spectacular, a little browner in some parts than expected (from the peat), and the Glenveagh highlands were reminiscent of the Alaskan tundra (a surprise to us).  In Donegal town, we heard traditional Irish music in a pub (not the touristy rendition that is heard in many places) and even had great Indian curry.

Biking along the coast from Killybegs to Glencolmcille or Glencolmcille to the Maghera Beach Caves near Ardara — were among the most memorable days of our lives.   But it was the hiking at Slieve League and the sea cliffs near Glencolmcille that were our favorite parts of the whole trip.

But I’m saving the best for last – and this is Seamus.  You’ve probably already read that he is amazing, is a wonderful man, takes care of you, and all that.  And he is all this and more.  But, the impression that I am left with is this: Seamus is a truly caring man who really wanted us to have the best possible vacation.   And he made it happen.  For example, during a break in an otherwise rainy forecast, Seamus offered to break with the schedule, drive back down to Donegal Town to pick us, drive us the opposite direction to Glencolmcille (a lot of driving on his part), and then dropped us off at the trail head for what became for us, one of all time great hiking experiences. The views were breathtaking and this was only made possible because of his generosity (and knowledge of the area).

So, if all this talk of rain scares you a little – don’t be turned off by it.  We were in Ireland during a bad patch – even for the Irish.  And, in spite of it (or because of it), we experienced one of the best adventures that we have ever had.

Bob and Brenda Ryan, VA, USA,  Backroads and Beyond, May 2015

cycling and hiking tour, Donegal, Ireland.Cycling and walking tour, Donegal, IrelandHiking and Cycling holiday, Donegal, Ireland

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