Killybegs To Differ

Killybegs To Differ
Choice 25
The “Paula” – Killybegs

I have that calling for the sea, I can’t help it, and it haunts me from time to time. Not that I dislike where I live, not at all, but when you spend over 30 years in full view of the Atlantic, it is like an old friend you enjoy sharing a moment with, paying that friend a visit sometimes, that is what friends do I guess, communion with a wordless and reassuring company. So when my Italian pal Marty rang last month, expressing the wish to visit Ireland again for a very short weekend in June, I knew I had to do something special. As a former gastronomy student from Turin, she enjoys real local food, and there were a couple of home cooked Irish dinners on the cards. But for our escapade, I wanted something a bit special, not only for the food, I wanted it to be a feast for the eyes and the senses… Unlike most of Europe, Ireland was under clear blue skies,flirting with mid-twenties temperatures… The perfect plan was unfolding itself nicely…

Choice 3
Bay of Donegal

We headed from co. Meath, my neck of the woods, towards Enniskilen in the North, a clean drive through Cavan and Fermanagh, before reaching Ballyshannon where the Rory Gallagher Festival was taking place. Born in the town, and since he is one of my guitar heroes, we had to stop to soak it all in…

Choice 1
Ballyshannon – Co. Donegal
Choice 3
Rory Gallagher – Ballyshannon

We drove for another 20kms through Donegal Town, my old base when I worked in Glenveagh National Park in 1991, always a fond memory, so well kept We then took left, Mountcharles direction; Killybegs was just another twenty, just in time for a late lunch in a place that I have fancied going for many years. Melly’s Café overlooks the harbour, one of the busiest and most dramatic looking fishing harbours in Ireland; this place is real! The town, the people… This is not a review by the way, I don’t do reviews… All I can tell you, is that I was starving, the welcome was friendly, we had fresh Hake and chips and that it was all really good, unpretentious and satisfying. I enjoyed looking at the customers, mothers with their kids, still in school uniforms, young adults who had sneaked off from an afternoon wedding for a bite before dinner, workers from the piers below… My kind of place.

Choice 24
Killybegs at last
Choice 15
Melly’s Café
Choice 2
Waiting for some Hake

We checked in to our hotel, a family business right on the harbour, before showing my friends the beauties of West Donegal, a place that they never visited before and that I knew well enough, a place that inspired me to write a fish and chips recipe and an old story, nearly two years ago this September when the weather was as sunny and hot. Our first stop was the cliffs of Sliabh Liag, 600 m high mountains plunging in the ocean…

Choice 5
Sliabh Liag
Choice 6
Sliabh Liag

We continued our Atlantic drive towards Malainn Bhig, the beautiful silver strand near Gleann Cholm Cille…

Choice 8
Malainn Bhig
Choice 10
Malainn Bhig – “We were here”

We headed back to Killybegs, four hours later, for a well deserved beer in the Harbour Bar, a place I wanted to visit as it inspired me to write a song nearly twenty years ago. May you be in Ireland or in Brittany, every port has a harbour bar… It wasn’t far off what I imagined it was going to be…

Choice 16
Harbour Bar – Killybegs

I slept well that night, even leaving the window of the hotel room open, so I could listen to the sounds of the night, some diesel engine gently purring in the distance. The view didn’t disappoint!

Choice 13
View from the Tara Hotel

I got up early that morning, before saying my goodbyes to this lovely little Irish Atlantic town, I wanted to take some last shots before bearkfast that I will share with you now; I will be back again in Killybegs, for sure! A place where we received a friendly and honest welcome. A place that has often inspired me in so many ways, songs or recipes… Maybe it has even a part to play in starting this blog. I am pretty sure it has, I just can’t quite explain it. When I was talking to the locals of Donegal town or Killybegs during this long and sunny weekend, the phrase “we are the forgotten people of Ireland” kept coming back; a reference to the economy, I can understand that, and sometimes I can’t help to think that it may not me a bad thing. But that is a conversation we’ll have another day… For now, if you are a foodie fond of the simple fruits the sea has to offer, or simply have a thirst for beauty and freedom, I can only recommend a visit to Killybegs and West Donegal… It won’t let you down!

Choice 19
Trawler in the morning
DSC00172
Ahoy Café – Killybegs
Choice 21
The Vigilant
Choice 20
Church and blue sky
Choice 22
The “Paula” Trawler
Choice 26
You sure did…

Keep well, Eat Happy

Slán Tamall

Franck







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