“Donegal beaches among cleanest in the country”

April 22nd, 2011

Thumbs up from the Environmental Protection Agency.Go to


for full story.

Yup, thats pretty clean

Maghera tales

April 22nd, 2011

Off to Maghera today. We go there for the wide, wide stretch of beach, soft white sand, dunes, air…

The wind was whipping up the surf,  blowing the sand into streamers, up high the weather was coursing over the beach.

We walked into one of the caves on the south side …there are thirteen in all.

You can see the cave - a dark space half way up the picture

This was the first, set high on the cliff. Local folklore relates, and the girl in the car park kiosk repeated the tale ..that 500 people were in hiding there shortly after the 1916 Rising – but the Black and Tans were alerted to their presence when they had to light a fire one night as a woman went into childbirth. All but one were massacred – he hid himself on a high ledge.

These days, it looks like the odd rave happens there, nightlights perched on the shelving rocks.

Another local tale tells how  a man and his dog went walking into the thirteenth cave. The dog emerged some time later from the hillside here at Port, five miles away as the chough flies, but the man was never seen again.

Photos courtesy of Bella Purcell

Dylan Thomas comes alive

April 22nd, 2011

I’m breathless,

We are just back to Port after the winter break. Its incredible what it has withstood, without us. A winter where temperatures went down to minus 15…and winter on the raw edge of the Atlantic can be punishing.The cottage stood waiting for us, like a loyal dog.

Who would have thought it? Yesterday, we emerged from the cottage to see a spring you dream of. Though our sheep in the Midlands have already birthed, the shaggy Donegal flocks are lambing now. In the stone-walled field next door, we saw a lamb no more than a couple of hours old – staggering, fragile and china white, behind its mother. And what a thing for your first sight of the world to be Port.

It has been very dry this April, the streams are low, the blogs barely squelching, but the grass is still fresh and green. The first heather is blossoming, small and white, crunchy. We walk barefoot – feeling the land’s differences. Some of the grass is soft and springy, moss-depthed, and woven together. Other parts are like walking on the cropped pelt of a lion, tough and stringy.

Our concession to a garden has emerged, huge bunches of narcissus bend behind the lichened stone walls, , while on the rocks around the sea-shore, the everlasting flowers are blooming. We scrambled over the plated rocks around a lively sea. The air was almost edible with the freshness of seaweed. We watched the lobstermen’s wooden boat being tossed around in the big swell. The children played chicken on the edge of the shore, dashing away from anything too big. The sunned ocean, laced with surf and gashed by rocks was too utterly breath-taking to absorb. In a world where we tire of things so fast, how can a place like this just continue to rise in stature? It is something to do with absolutes – real values of beauty.

We walked along the sheeps cliff path all the way north to the top of the next valley Glenlough, (where Dylan Thomas stayed in 1934) which always feels like a walk to the wilderness. No one was here. Black choughs bleeted and hung on the cliff back-drafts; we found fox scat in several places (we heard him cry last night, he must be here for the lambs) – and at the top of the rise, the land fell away to one of the most awesome coves of all this coast – Glenlough beach. From a thousand feet up, its colours were tropical – the sea, shot with froth and air and the turbulence of tossed rock, was turquoise. The beach pebbles, laid in a generous crescent, were pale yellow.It was very very alone.

But it was the noise of this utterly abandoned beach that was more miraculous than all else  – it was funnelled up to us through the cliff ravines and slid up the steep banks of scree – the breathing, or panting, of the sea on the shore, a sound of the universe, a genuine OM…as the water  coiled itself around the rounded beach pebbles and dragged them forward and back, forward and back. A sonorous, scraping lament that continues day and night, year on year on year.  Dylan Thomas called this “the beach of a thousand sounding stones”.

I know the quote, but have yet to find the poem…someone help me here…?

Easy tigers

April 7th, 2011

Golly, you’re all getting very excited out there…well apparently we’re going live at midday on the Dorset Cereals site. Good luck!

Muesli is us

April 6th, 2011

Those lovely people at Dorset Cereals love this cottage so much they’re making us a prize in their competition this week!!! We were told we are the definition of the slogan they use on their breakfast cereals – Simple Pleasures. And its true, yup, we are. There are few things more simple-and-pleasureful than this little cottage by the sea. Hey , how about that then? I feel…almost famous.

Only thing I’m worried about is we might have to build twenty more cottages to accommodate all their lovely competition entrants. Only kidding…there’s just going to be one  lucky lucky winner, but go to their site http://www.dorsetcereals.co.uk and scroll down to  Spin the Bottle – you never know, it might be your day, your week, your year.

Simple Pleasure

April 6th, 2011

Inspired by our new-found celebrity with Dorset Cereals (see next post Muesli Is Us to enter the competition) Ive gone hunting for some of Port’s unadulterated Simple Pleasures in the album.

Getting wet and woolly

Fixing stuff - or are they breaking it?

Blokes turn to do breakfast - not a lot of muesli around

Check out the mallet - a whalebone!

On seagull watch

Seal spotting in the bay below the house

Make the monopoly set, then play it

Somebody stop me….

Back to her roots

March 13th, 2011

We had many people come and stay in the last 12 months, and not only that, we’ve had contact with the ancestors….One nice man told me that his grandmother, Agnes Denis  Mcginley, was born in this very cottage. Another lady from the States, that her great grandmother Annie Mcginley was born in the cottage.We’ll have to draw up a family tree for this cottage, it has seen..life..literally.

That would have been when there were three cottages in the valley. Now there is only one, the one that Roland’s parents renovated. The others are just ruins now, beaten by the Atlantic wind.

Anyway..I digress…of all the people we had visit this year, there was one extra special honoured guest…my niece. She is American on one side, English on the other, but her ancestors are Irish too, and when she was in the Donegal landscape, she just became part of it. Port does that to you, it gets inside you – but I envy those who have it in their genes.

My niece in her element

Here’s to anyone with a connection with the place, they are lucky indeed, and always welcome at our door.

Out in the elements

February 6th, 2011

Sometimes the weather here is unbelievably wet and windy and wild.  There are three alternatives when confronted with it.

1) Just kit up and get out there, get as wet and muddy as possible – it’s fantastically bracing

2) Put more turf on the bedroom stove, and stay in bed-quite popular with the teens

3) Fix the wind turbine like Rol decided to – not recommended

Port makes it to the movies

October 19th, 2010

We’re a bit behind the times, here at the rough edge of the known world, but finally captured in full technicolor moving pictures, is :

The Road to Donegal ( and world premiere of Dust Angels music video) :

The ultimate road movie – captured in real time, of literally, our long and bumpy road -  seems odd,  but its one of things that makes this cottage what it is.

Paste this into your browser, if the fast link doesn’t work.



In and Out and all over Port

A sneak look at the beach, fields, streams, bogs, and life inside and out of the cottage – without even having to go down the long and bumpy road.

Paste this into your browser, if the fast link doesn’t work.


Just try the links, or paste the links into your browser, make some popcorn and spend the evening, or five minutes of it, with us.

Port stacks conquered

October 19th, 2010

TODAYS STOP PRESS: I am contacting to tell you all the stacks along your coast line from
Skelpoonagh to Maghera have been climbed. HURRAH! It’s been
I’ve attached the current copy of Donegal Stack guide, Alas it’s not
a very interesting read, the routes marked with 2 & 3 stars mean very
good climbing indeed.

Cnoc na Mara - conquered, but still standing firm

My name is Iain Miller and on an almost weekly basis over the last
3 years I have been visiting Port and climbing all the sea stacks from
Glencolmcillle to Ardara. I’ve watch your cottage change and grow
over the last few years, what an excellent location you have there!

Several of the Sea stacks to the north of you, An Bhuideal (the
twin headed one 1 km to the North of Port) and Cnoc na Mara  (just to the
South of Tormore island) are without question world class sea stacks
for both the location, setting and the climbing.

There is a climbers guide to Donegal being written at present and
the Port sea stacks will have their own chapter.

If youd like to get the stack guide, write to iainmiller@vodafone.ie

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