Northwest Ireland in February?

Dec 30th, 2003, 06:22 AM
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Northwest Ireland in February?

My family and I are traveling to Ireland the last week of February. As we have been to Ireland before, and already explored the Southwest regions (Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Dingle Bay), we and are interested in possibly seeing the Sligo/Donnegal regions during this visit. However, we are uncertain of weather conditions on the northwest coast in Feburary. Does anyone have some insight? Also, are there suggestions as far as possible activities or sites of interest there? Also, does anyone know of any festivals, plays, concerts or shows that may be of interest in Dublin during February. Thank you very much.
kbergin is offline  
Dec 30th, 2003, 07:57 AM
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I'm interested in this too. I'll be in Connemara and Donegal first week in March--will look forward to responses to this query as well--thanks!
Holldoll is offline  
Dec 30th, 2003, 09:05 AM
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kbergin & Holldoll:

The Republic of Ireland makes up most of a very small island and it is almost impossible to guess the weather for a part of that island. Generally, the NW is just a bit cooler than the SW and the coast will probably be windy. The stats for Malin Head show it about 3 degrees cooler for High, Low and Mean temperatures than Valentia. The south gets a bit more rain, but that is totally unpredictable.

Generally, expect temperature in the mid 40s for highs and mid to high 30s for lows. It will be a rare moment that the winds are not blowing on the coast and if you take the road up to Slieve League (the highest sea cliffs in Europe), expect to be blown around quite a bit. Spectacular spot, but very frequently very windy. I experienced 80-100 MPH winds there. If you want to know how to get there, let me know. Following the signs will lead you to the wrong place. I have directions somewhere.

Remember, the RoI is abouth the size of West Virginia so it's a little tough to guess what the weather will be like in Northern WV as opposed to southern WV.

The great thing about being there in February is that the pace of everything will be very slow. Very little tourism at that time of year especially in Donegal. Unfortunately, most historic sites will be shut down but the scenery is always open and it's hard to beat Donegal for that.

I think my favorite part of Ireland is the NW but I haven't visited it enough as it is harder to get to. Next time though (I think May of 05).

Let me know if you would like any thoughts on where to go and what to see in the area.

wojazz3 is offline  
Dec 30th, 2003, 06:13 PM
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Hey wojazz3--thanks for the info. If you have good directions to Slieve League I'd love for you to post them. We're free winging it once we get to Donegal. Two nights there--driving from south to north or vice versa, whichever works. Any suggestions for what to see, what not to miss, or where to stay would be highly appreciated. We don't have lots of bucks, but aren't going on a shoestring, so will hopefully do hotels or guesthouses. Any help or ideas you could give will be great. Thanks in advance!
Holldoll is offline  
Dec 31st, 2003, 05:30 AM
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Many thanks to you, wojazz3. And, I'd also be interested in your response to holldoll regarding Slieve League. Holldoll, what do you plan on seeing in Northern Ireland?
kbergin is offline  
Dec 31st, 2003, 06:03 AM
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The cliffs at Slieve League are billed as the highest in Europe, and it's a trip well worth taking. The cliffs are quite dramatic, a nice alternative to the hyper-touristy Cliffs of Moher.

To access Slieve League, head west from Donegal town on the N56. In a short while you'll come to the fishing port of Killybegs. Continue west on the R263 past Kilcar and then Carrick. From here look for signs to Teelin, and then keep an eye out for Bunglass and the cliffs. At just under 2,000 feet high, the cliffs are an awe-inspiring sight.

While you're in the region, consider a short trip north from Slieve League to the strikingly situated village of Glencolumbkille. Here you'll find a fine folk village/museum of rural life, along with a terrific beach which is ideal for long strolls and deep contemplation.

Conclude the day with a drive east over the highly scenic Glengesh Pass and on towards the village of Ardara. Here you'll find several shops featuring high quality, attractively priced woolen items, including Aran sweaters.

In closing, make a point of exploring County Sligo, a place that is rich in scenery and pre-historic sites (Knocknarea and Carrowmore are both located just outside Sligo town). Moreover, consider a trip to the lovely Lough Gill, made famous by the poetry of native son W.B. Yeats. There is so very much to see and do in and around Counties Sligo and Donegal, not to mention an excursion into the UK and County Fermanagh, perhaps the island of Ireland's best kept touristic secret. Get your hands on a good guidebook for more information.

Best of luck.
DavidD is offline  
Dec 31st, 2003, 07:49 AM
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Hi guys. Davids directions are correct, but it is tricky because you will see a sign for Sleive League that you should not follow. Here are the directions from my travelogue.

"From Carrick, take the road south at the Slieve League Pub to Teelin. This is, by the way, the road to the Cul-a-Duin pub. The trick is, DO NOT turn at the sign to Slieve League. Instead, turn at the Bunglass road. Don't be fooled by the closed gate at the car park as we were at first. It appears you must walk from here. Rather, just open the gate, drive through and close it after you."

The walk to the top isn't terribly long, but in strong winds is a work out. I would suggest driving. In addition to David's directions I will suggest that off the R263 you will see signs for scenic routes first to Kilcar and then Carrick. Take them!! Granted they are not for the feint of heart for the roads are narrow, but the views are fantastic. Even though Michelin call the R263 a scenic route, the great scenery is on the little roads that run right along the coast. I can't wait to go back.

I agree with David about both Glencolmcille and Ardara. There is a beautiful beach outside of Ardara that is almost deserted. We saw no one there and watched the sunset that day.

I loved the Fanad peninsula which takes less time to drive than it's much larger neighbor Inishowen and sports some spectacular views. The drive out to the lighthouse is wonderful. You can hardly go wrong with any of the coastline in Donegal. We stayed in Dunfanaghy at the Corncrakes Rest which is a nice little place with great hosts. Horn Head is a beautiful area coastal drive also.

My two recommendations for the Killeybegs area are the Ocean View and the Credo House. Both are very nice, but the Ocean View is closed during the time both of you are there and the Credo House open on March 1. They can both be found on T&C website. (

In addition to David's prehistoric sites, I'll add Carrowkeel which is on the N$ between Sligo and Boyle. The lake area around Boyle is very pretty also. There is a great old B&B in Boyle called the Abbey House which is virtually attached to the Boyle Abbey. Nice place to stay.

Also near Sligo is the Glencar waterfall. It is signposted off the N15 and is a beautiful, almost tropical looking place. Make sure to take a trip here.

I took some of this info from my travelogue from 2002 which can be found at:

I hope this helps. Please feel free to ask more questions.

wojazz3 is offline  
Dec 31st, 2003, 01:35 PM
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Kbergin: In response, we're planning on driving up to southern Donegal from Connemara (Bundoran or farther) on Tuesday and then spending the following day driving north along the coast. Slieve League for sure, and we don't have anything else actually planned. Some good suggestions are just above. We'll probably stay somewhere in far northern Donegal after a full day of driving up the coast. Any suggestions, as I said, are very welcome. We are going from there to County Monahan to stay at Castle Leslie on the Thursday night. Again, comments are welcome! I'm told that the west and NW are thr most beautiful, yet remote,areas of Ireland.
Holldoll is offline  
Dec 31st, 2003, 01:56 PM
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I hope you'll have a chance to stop at Nancy's Pub in Ardara. It's a wonderful old place to spend an evening, and they also serve very good pub grub for lunch and dinner.
MaryZ is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 11:03 AM
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For Dublin events try ALso try As for weather in the west it could be ok but be prepared for some wet and blustery weather. wnjoy the trip and check out a play in Dublin.
SiobhanP is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 01:05 PM
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Really great information from David and wojazz3!!. I, too would highly recommend you see Sleive League and as wojazz mentions, DO take the small roads along to Kilgar and to Carrick. As mentioned, not for the feint of heart, but well worth it. The views are spectacular. I stayed at Ocean View in Killybegs, and it really is too bad it will not be open when you are there.
The drive up to Sleive League is very steep, so hold your breath and go for it! From there I, too, went to Glencolumbkille and then Adara (lots of sweater shops). I also enjoyed driving over the Glenesh Pass to get to Adara.
Further north, do be sure and drive around Horn Head at Dunfanaghy. It is spectacular too. I would not have missed it. I stayed in Dunfanaghy at Carrigan House ph. 074 36276 run by Bridget Moore and it was very nice. Had dinner at the hotel in town and dessert by the big open fire. (JUst looked at my's Arnold's HOtel)
HOpe this helps.
Have a great trip.
kodi is offline  
Jan 1st, 2004, 02:34 PM
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Holldoll, Bill, DavidD, Mary Z, Siobhan, Kodi, thank you! thank you! Much better than I could find in any guidebook -- I'm really looking forward to taking you up on your recommendations. Happy New Year to all.

kbergin is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2004, 09:42 AM
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Have you thought of County Mayo. It's on your way to Sligo/Donegal. Westport is a nice town, beautiful views of Clew Bay. Croagh Patrick is just out the road. There is a good museum in Castlebar called the Museum of Country Life, well worth a visit. It's a little outside the town. Take in the 'Ceide Fields' near Crossmolina.
martina is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2004, 02:08 PM
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Thanks Martina. We do plan on visiting Mayo and Clew Bay. I hear its so scenic. That museum sounds really interesting. And, I'll check out Ceide Fields as well. Thanks again for you tips.

kbergin is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 09:28 AM
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Hi Kate:

An interesting route to Westport is through Leenane (the area in which the movie "The Field" was filmed) and Louisburgh and on the Westport. You'll pass right by Croagh Patrick on the way and Clew Bay will be right next to you. I thought Doolough Pass was beautiful. I was sitting in a pub in my hometown here in the States and saw a picture of the pass which looked almost identical to the one I had taken, right down to the stand of 4 or 5 trees. It turned out it was taken in 1958! It's amazing how little it has changed.

wojazz3 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2004, 09:55 AM
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Hi all: Gee, this is such great info., however, everyone says "not for the feint of heart" and I'm afraid I am--and so is my traveling companion. Not good on those mountainside roads. Darn. Hopefully we can circumvent the worst ones and still enjoy. Any info for we feint of heart folks will be greatly appreciated too!!
Holldoll is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 06:47 AM
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kbergin writes: "Message: My family and I are traveling to Ireland the last week of February. ... are interested in possibly seeing the Sligo/Donnegal regions during this visit. However, we are uncertain of weather conditions on the northwest coast in Feburary. Does anyone have some insight? Also, are there suggestions as far as possible activities or sites of interest there? Also, does anyone know of any festivals, plays, concerts or shows that may be of interest in Dublin during February."

I don't know how much the Irish observe it, but Lent begins 25 Feb. That might affect the availability of events in Dublin. You said you will be going the last week of Feb (as will my wife & I).

As for the weather: I was in Limerick in February a few years ago and heard TV reports of snow in the north. We'll just be there for an extended weekend: the farthest we get away from Shannon will be Galway (or Connemara).

martina writes: "Take in the 'Ceide Fields' near Crossmolina." Ceide Fields is a prehistoric site on the north coast of County Mayo. They're west and north from Crossmolina (pronounced cross mo lye na). The way I got up there was coming east from Belmullet: there's a fork in the road before you get to Bangor Erris. Take the north fork to the Ceide Fields.

I like Ballina, County Mayo and have stayed at Crockett's on the Quay or most recently at BrigOwn, a B&B a few steps away from Crockett's on the river Moy. You also might be interested in a stop at Knock Shrine.

NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 09:06 AM
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Hello kbergin,

I visit Ireland 2x a year and will be heading over on Feb 27th. Basically, you can have all four seasons in one day in Ireland, including up North. I have not been to Donegal yet, but heard it is beautiful. I will be in Dingle (my dad is from Dingle). The night I am leaving for Ireland there will also be 120 people from western Massachusetts on the flight and I believe they are heading for Donegal for several days! I hope you enjoy your trip.


irishrose is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 07:09 AM
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Hi Kate. This is home territory for me!You will definately enjoy the scenery around Slieve League.There's a good website which will give you a list of accommodation, attractions etc in the area.There's some great beaches(although very cold in Feb!)and in North Donegal, you should visit Glenveagh Castle and National Park.If you are going to stay in North Donegal, Letterkenny is the largest town and will provide a large range of accommodation choices.Weather in Feb in Donegal is usually pretty cold and we tend to get a bit of rain in the winter so bring a good umbrella! Another website that you can use to check for plays, concerts etc in Dublin is ..enjoy!
kempten is offline  
Jan 13th, 2004, 07:59 AM
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You might want to reconsider "winging it" in terms of lodging in that part of the West at that time of year. Quite a few of the B&B's, perhaps even the majority of them, will not be open for business in February. Even some of the larger hotels, such as the Shandon at Marble Hill, are not open at that time of year. I would definitely book ahead if I were you. I agree with the advice to try

Near the coast you will be COLD because of the wind off the water, though the temperature seldom drops below freezing. It can be bone-chillingly damp, so be sure to bring long underwear (silk or capilene is best.) Gloves and wind-resistant clothing are a necessity. The locals all wear heavy wool to fight the wind and damp, but it's hard to travel with; fleece will be nearly as good if you have long underwear, and a compression bag will squash it in your luggage.

As for places, I'll throw in a recommendation for the Atlantic Drive, which starts from Carrigart. The Drive is beautiful at any time of year, but is rather majestic in Winter.

Ryn2691 is offline  

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