Travelogue, Day 22
One of the neatest things that the National Trust does in ireland is rent out some of the properties as self-catering rooms. I discovered them when I signed up for membership in the National Trust (joining gets you free admission to any pro pertly held by the trust, which can be a huge savings if you intend to see a lot of them). So I discovered this lovely little "miniature castle" in Antrim - the Barbican Gatehouse. We have reservations there starting tomorrow. We finally touched baaed with the caretaker today to make sure we knew where we were going. Yikes.
It's raining like the Flood, today. Pouring down in buckets and making it almost impossible to go outside. I'm sure we're just being weak, it's just a little rain, but without rubber boots, it's impossible to walk around. There are umbrellas and wellies to be borrowed (well, someone else snagged the wellies already), so we grabbed an umbrella and bundled up against the wind. We took a few pictures of the castle at Temple House, got soaked, and decided to do something indoors today.
We caught view of a nice castle on the way out to Parke's, near ballintogher. I actually took the photos from inside the car, in an attempt to keep my shoes dry. We're steaming up the inside of the car every time we get back in! The rain let up a little by the time we made it to Parke's castle, but the gray day and gray stone made for a very imposing, dreary visit. The castle is restored inside, and in fact is mostly an exhibition of "domestic architecture", which, while interesting, actually detract a bit from the restoration of the castle itself.
The bawn remains, with the domestic buildings in side, but the rest of the castle is mostly ruined. We walked down along the lough to see the "sweathouse" and the original wall walk down by the water. Inside the walls, though, are buildings for the old smithy, ovens, and a cluster of other stone buildings. Interestingly, the staircase in the tower winds the 'wrong way', since Parke was left-handed. The circular staircases were designed so a defender coming down the stairs has the advantage swinging a sword.
Left-handled castle stairs
Donegal castle, on the other hand, is well restored and has some very interesting stonework inside. It's been renovated extensively in the years that it has bee occupied and the latest renovation added about a bazillion fireplaces, including on monstrous hearth with carvings in the main hall. The tower is very interesting - it's actually quite small, and the attic additions for windows make it look very house-like. There is a ruined Elizabethan house in the courtyard with many windows - not much of the defensive part of the castle remains. Mark really likes to figure out the site and the defensive capabilities of a particular castle: how it could be approached, how easy to get inside, that sort of thing. His declaration about this s site is that, if they retreated to the tower, they might be able to hold off a determined attacked for awhile, but those big windows (including a bay window on one end of the hall) wouldn’t be much help.
It's still raining, and we have the "cover the camera" argument about four times an hour. Mark is fine with letting the camera get a bit wet. I am not. It leads to stress. I should have ordered a raincoat for the camera when I found one online, since local shops have nothing. Of course, we'd probably just argue over when the rain stuff was necessary.
We stopped at Creevelea Friary near Dromhair on the ay into Letterkenny. It' s small but interesting ruin. The walls are currently being worked on (as they are everywhere) and we did try to peer in at the work. There isn't a tower here anymore, which makes the site seem very disconnected and spread out. We didn't stay long, since there wasn't anyone to ask about the restoration and we didn't wan to disturb things.
While we normally avoid big "hotels" we picked the Radisson SAS hotel in Letterkenny for the night. It's a standard, boring, international hotel. At this point, we just want to get dry and warm and have some food. We dragged ourselves downstairs to the bar and had a burger and pasta and resolved to get a good night's sleep and get into Antrim tomorrow.
lost in ireland 2005 travelogue and photos © rfingerson