(IRISH INDEPENDENT, February 12th, 2016)
It may be part of the South but the windswept and interesting Rosguill Peninsula is way up north, north of north even, in the farther reaches of Co Donegal.
It’s also home to Dooey, a beautifully located dormer bungalow, in tip-top condition, near the picturesque fishing and resort village of Downings.
So, if you really want to get away from it all, this area not only offers secluded peace but also some of the most startlingly beautiful coastal scenery in Ireland, as well as some of the best value per square foot in property.
Approached by a naturally cut stone entrance and gravel driveway, Dooey’s attractive rural setting offers far reaching views from every aspect. But it is inside where it reveals its real character and charm.
On entering, one is struck immediately by the exposed Belfast brick feature wall, with an inset cast iron stove nestled in the good-sized open plan living area and kitchen area.
The kitchen is traditional old Irish cottage meets contemporary living with cream fitted units and ample work space for family meal times or a house party. The range is multi use with gas and electricity.
The sitting room is light and spacious and maximises the sunlight in the summer months, with views extending to the Atlantic Drive.
One of the four bedrooms is on the ground floor,, with plenty of space for visiting friends or family.
Upstairs, there are three large double bedrooms, bright and airy, along with a bathroom with ornate free standing bathtub.
The large master bedroom includes a rustic inset fireplace along with ample storage and reclaimed furniture throughout.
€175,000 and the agent is DNG Boyce Gallagher (074 91 68608), on Port Road, Letterkenny
Co Donegal is a great favourite with holiday-makers, particularly from the greater Belfast area and neighbouring Co Derry, and Rosguill is liberally dotted with holiday homes from home.
It’s not hard to see why. Situated on the Wild Atlantic Way, Downings itself commands a superb view, to the left, of the Ards Peninsuala, across the expansive Sheephaven Bay, one of the great sailing grounds on the north coast, to the distant flat-topped peak of Muckish, while to the east lie the treacherous sand banks of Mulroy Bay. In between is a beguiling mix of bog, hill and pastureland, dotted with ancient walls.
The championship Rosapenna Golf Links is just south of the village, and there are several sandy beaches locally, including the blue flag Downings Beach itself, Tramore Beach and Tra Na Rosann.
Folks up here are switched on to the tourism industry, and as well as great outdoor pursuits facilities and activities, there are plenty of places to eat well or enjoy a drink in lively sing-song company or in splendid isolation.
Downings, with its long standing tradition of tweed making, still in evidence at McNutts’ Donegal Woollen Mill, located on The Pier, is an Irish speaking area but English, in that soft Donegal lilt, is generally in use. Nearby Carrigart, at the base of the peninsula, provides services for a large hinterland, and has a supermarket, banking facilities and post office.
Things to do
Downings Beach is ideal for children as the water is shallow for a long way out. Outdoor pursuits in general are well catered for locally. Mevagh Dive Centre, in Carrigart, is Donegal’s first purpose built Dive Centre, with wetsuits and everything you could need for hire.
The area is well known for sea-angling and the Mevagh centre can guide you in your pursuit of everything from ling, coalfish, tope, conger, cod, pollack, mackerel and gurnard to blue shark and blue fin tuna.
RosGuill Charter Hire in Downings, operates a charter vessel for some great bottom fishing and rods, reels and tackle can be hired.
If you want to stay closer to shore, The Pier at Downings is very good during the summer, offering dogfish, flounder, dab and plaice. At night one can expect to find mullet, coalfish and small wrasse.
Jaws Watersports, on Main Street, Downings, is a one-stop shop for all your outdoor pursuit needs, be it surfing, windsurfing, sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking or snorkelling.
The Rosapenna Championship Links Golf Course is just half a mile from the village. There are actually two championship courses here, the Old Tom Morris Links, originally designed by the great four-time British Open champion, in 1893, and Sandy Hills, designed by Pat Ruddy and opened in June 2003.
In 2012, the Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort bought St Patrick’s Golf Links (36 holes), which adjoins the 800-acre dune system at Rosapenna.
If one is looking for something more leisurely, the Atlantic Drive is a short but spectacular scenic route. As it is only 12km long, one will appreciate it best on foot, or on a bike. The views are striking, first across Sheephaven Bay to Horn Head, then into Tranarosan Bay, with its beautiful beach forming a golden link between two headlands. Further on is Melmore Head, which commands stunning views across to Fanad Head.
Then the road winds above Mulroy Bay with its many inlets, islands and peninsulas. Melmore Head, on a good day, with the ocean sparkling, is stunning.
Donegal offers some of the most unspoiled landscapes in Ireland for hill-walking enthusiasts of all ages. There is a variety of walks, from marked trails and looped walks to coastal and forest paths. The Sheephaven Bay Walking Guide is well worth perusing.
Food and drink
The Singing Pub, in Clontallagh, Downings, is a traditional thatched pub with warm open fires that serves good pub grub, with the emphasis on steak and local seafood, which goes down exceptionally well with a nice pint and a live music session.
The Harbour Bar, Crocknamurleog, also has traditonal live music every weekend and throughout the winter.
The restaurant in The Downings Bay Hotel is also good, and we recommend their Burtonport Crab & Lemon Risotto.
The Beach Hotel, in the heart of Downings village, and which received a Tripadvisor recommendation in 2015, also has live music at weekends and every night in summer.
Principally from the North, but a fair sprinkling of Dubs, people from the Cavan-Monaghan area and other areas south, who like a laid-back holiday.
What’s not to like
Limited sea views from the property. It could also do with a good coat of paint outside.
Very quiet from November to March, and the winter storms made for a harsh winter past.
Drivers should be aware some ordinance maps refer to the village as “downies” as do internet route finders.