The following is my day by day account of traveling through Ireland during the summer of 2009.
Day 3: County Donegal, Ireland (aka Northwest Ireland)
So technically day two ended in Letterkenny after a long drive along the northern coast, but we really only stopped there to sleep. From what I gather there really isn’t anything to do in this town that’s worthwhile. I did have my first pint of Guiness here, and have to say that it tastes so buttery smooth compared to the bitter guiness we have in the states, that I am not sure I can ever go back to appreciating it in america again. Its like driving a lamborghini after a Kia, yeah they both get you from point A to point B, but its never the same.
Fast forward to Day 3 (August 11)& we’re off to Ardara, a small village of 700 people. Why on earth were we heading to this town in which we now accounted for nearly 1% of the people there? Well turns out this is the town where the Breslins came from. Ages ago, before the internet, the Breslin family emigrated from this tiny village to America, and apparently they all went. There were no signs of any Breslins left (except for this gaelic version in a quickie mart pictured below)! Not even a trace of our family coat of arms in the local trinket/souvenir shops! For those of you wondering, Ardara is famed for its textile/wool industry; unfortunately for me I live in Miami, where wearing wool sweaters would result in spontaneous combustion.
However, all was not lost, we did manage to find a trace. By hunting down our old family farm house on the road to Donegal Town, we managed to find a long lost cousin. 91 year old Margaret Ann Ward. She who happened to be first cousins with my great grandfather Thomas Breslin. Meeting this sweet old lady (novegenarian) was perhaps the highlight of my trip to Ardara.
After meeting this lady who may or may not have witnessed the invention of the wheel, we headed off to Donegal town. Donegal is like New York City compared to Ardara, there are over 40,000 people here! Yet, Donegal makes Miami look like New York City or Tokyo, so its not like we’re in the epicenter of the world here. Apparently Donegal is famed for its natural beauty and sport fishing. When you’re only in town for a few hours, you can’t really do much fishing unfortunately. We did manage to catch a performance by a local Irish musician at the Abbey Hotel in Donegal, but get this, the guy lived in Ft. Lauderdale until recently! He apparently was a regular at O’shea’s in West Palm, and John Martin’s in Miami. So after traveling thousands of miles to see a local musician, we get someone we could have seen 6 months ago 5 miles from my house. Awesome.
Tips for traveling in this part of the country: watch out for tractors on the road, horse drawn carts, and plot out your route on a map before you go, the roads are poorly marked. Also in donegal, make it a point to stop in at the Crafts village which is on the way to Galway.
Next up Galway.