Boncranna is the Ireland I expected. Far more so than Belfast. Fields of green, dotted with herds of puffy white sheep, as far as the eye can see. The wind is warm and fresh, and thick with humidity. If you listen closely, you can hear fiddles and accordions whispering in the distance. Or maybe that part was in my head. (I watch too many romcoms…)
Today, after a leisurely brunch of coffee, tea, eggs, sausage and of course fresh scones made by Mrs. Doran herself (a daily delight at the Doran household, we are told) we strolled down the beach, just a few minutes walk from The Lookout (as they call their family home). I could’ve walked their forever. The little beach side town of Fahan in the County of Donegal (one of the biggest counties in Ireland… Bit of trivia for ya) should most certainly be added to your itinerary. It wasn’t something we had found in any guide books, and may not be known for any major tourist attractions, but it’s friendly and lively and charming as all hell. Kaley met a Fahan boy called Cahir (Cacks for short) when she lived in Australia years ago, and through the miracle of Facebook, we were able to connect with him and scored ourselves an invite to his family home.
Cacks and his younger brother, Brendan, pulled up to the bus station in Derry and loaded us and allll our bags (we had four each at this point… I know, traveling light hey? Backpacker fail…). We were happy as hell to be getting off that hot, sweaty bus. I think the temperature gauge was broken… or maybe that was just a really bad case of the whiskey sweats? Either way, the air conditioned BMW complete with two strapping Irish boys up front was a welcome treat. We sailed off through those green sheep-filled fields I mentioned previously, although it wasn’t fiddles I heard this time, it was top 40 in that particular BMW. (Yes, Taylor Swift made up the background music to my first moments on the coast, hehe!) The boys, being the terrific, well educated tour guides they were (especially good with dates) informed us that this particular little bay was used to escape the wrath of a violent storm (?) during the slave drive (?) and was the place where the well known song “Amazing Grace” was penned. With views like that, it was easy to understand how inspiration there could be found. Made it impossible NOT to be inspired!
My heart only swelled further as our visit continued. We were showed to our room for the evening… Suited with a queen size bed, a couch, a full length mirror, an ensuite bathroom with a hot shower and the most spectacular of views. Hello Heaven, can we stay forever? (I know I said our last hostel was good… But this kinda kicked it out of the water.) The delights continued as we sat down with the family. Three of the six children were there that weekend (the two boys and their sister Joan) and the head of the household, rosy cheeked Mr. Doran. Joan served Cajun chicken with goats cheese (so much cheese… was I ever excited!!) and Mr. Doran poured us generous glasses of red wine while entertaining us with all of his stories (of his family, his travels and the antics of his best friend, Bonnie the Retriever).
After dinner (and a delicious hot shower) it was off to the pub.
Now, everytime we went out in Belfast, we kept searching for this quintessential Irish pub we had pictured in our heads. We never QUITE found it… Not as we imagined, anyway. But then we went to The Tavern, and it was everything we had imagined. Locals greeted us. And we drank large pints of frothy Guinness by the fire place. And giggled about the cute Irish words and phrases we overheard whilst chatting with the boys (like how everything they speak about is referred to as “wee”… Which had us wondering if everything in Ireland was wee… A rumor I’m sure not all Irish men would appreciate. Hehe!)
After a few pints and a glass of something known as The Miserable Barman (a mixture of Malibu, Jaegermeister and some other boozy ingredient I can’t pronounce, invented by Brendan himself who worked as a barman there at The Tavern), it was time for a pub shift. Next up was a place called The Drift Inn where the saying is: “You drift in and stumble out”. So as we did…. Two rounds later we were on to McCulions and I was onto the whiskey. There’s no drunk better than the whiskey drunk. Honey bushmills whiskey is my favorite, thus far. (Although I have yet to visit the Jameson factory which may have me swayed I’m told.) The night wound down around sunrise, after a visit to a night club and a few more hours of after partying and drunken antics at the house that took us until sunrise. I’m not sure we’ve any real hope of a quiet night on this holiday… But I suppose I should just embrace that.
The day passed by all too quickly today, and as we packed up our backpacks, we wished we had allotted more time in this dreamy little town with this sweet Irish family. But alas, it was time to move once again. Galway was next on the list, and from what we had heard, it would steal our hearts just as quickly as everywhere else seemed to.
We hugged the boys goodbye, loaded on all of our bags (which are much easier to handle when you have two Irish gentlemen insisting on carrying them for you, by the way) and cuddled into some window seats on the bus to begin the 4 hour journey.
I’m happy. I’m inspired and I can see castles in the distance, in the skyline. Where am I?! And can I stay forever?
A big big thank you to the Doran family for so graciously hosting us, feeding us and touring us around! You’re welcome to our place in Canada anytime! Hope to be back for another visit soon!