We set out mid afternoon on a cold November day to climb Mackoght and then the steep quartize giant, Errigal, the highest summit in County Donegal. The air was cold and crisp atop Mackoght and mist drifted periodically up over the shattered scree covered NE face of Errigal which looked virtually unassailable from this angle. Joining the tourist path we quickly attained the summit of Donegal's most iconic mountain to feast our eyes upon sublime 360 degree views. The setting sun cast a pool of rosy light upon the scalloped face of Aghla More and the loughs of Dunlewey and Nacung blushed pink. On our descent, the full moon rose and stars began to wink in the firmament. The moonlight reflected off the bog pools like shattered shards of a giant’s mirror and it was so bright it was possible to see without head torches.
After booking in at Errigal Youth Hostel in Dunlewey, we headed for the Tábhairne Leo at Gweedore, renowned for nurturing world famous musical talents Enya, Clannad and Moya Brennan. The clientele was amazingly colourful as is often the case in littoral societies which always seem to harbour colonies of 'bohemian types' who find that there is nowhere left to run, so just settle down. A tall man with a face like a nutcracker, whom a very gossipy local lady at our table duly informed me was Dutch, wore apparel like that of a Puritan preacher complete with broad rimmed black hat, while a middle aged lady originally from South Dublin sporting peacock feathers in her 1920’s hairdo, cruised the bar area, wine glass in hand. The place was packed to the rafters as the musicians struck up sometime after ten, the rhythmic beat of the bodhrán contrasting with the plaintive, mellow notes of the flute. ‘Níl sé ina lá’ sang the band, ‘níl sé ina lá is ní bheidh go maidin’, as my mind, hazy from the Guinness, began to wander. ‘De ye know ‘Tuoer-kee?’ enquired another local woman at our table, who had told me her entire life story in fifteen minutes. Smiling banally, I wondered what on earth ‘
Turkey’ had to do with me being from ... the Guinness
began to flow more freely. Knowing we wouldn’t be able to 'drink here 'til the morning' as in the lyrics of Níl sé ina lá’ and like many of the locals undoubtedly can and would, we quietly slipped away during the distraction of the draw of a raffle in aid of Donegal
Mountain Rescue, arriving back at the hostel sometime past midnight. Cornwall