BY SEÁN P. FEENY
LAST weekend the Rathmullan welcomed visitors on a cruise around the British Isles and Ireland with the Noble Caledonia company.
Described as ‘one of the finest small ships in the world’, The Island Sky has a capacity of only 114, one of whom wrote about the Donegal stop on her online blog.
Penny Burnfield from Longstock, North West Hampshire has been on the cruise with her husband Sandy and has been blogging since their cruise began.
“We are now over half way. Welcome to Ireland – it’s raining. And our coach broke down, but we were rescued within about 20 minutes, plus the rain stopped fairly soon.
“We anchored in Lough Swilly, near the small town of Rathmullan. It’s a beautiful, tranquil place. This is Donegal, so we are in the North of Ireland, but part of the Irish Republic.
“The coach took us to Glenveagh Castle, about an hour’s drive. It was built in the 19th century in the Balmoral style, a pseudo-Scottish edifice by an inland lough.
“The man who built the castle wanted sheep and no awkward tenants, so he forced the local people off the land, but he died (not much mourned?) and his American wife extended the buildings, made a garden and employed the locals again.
“Since then it has been owned by various Americans until it was given to the Irish government, who have built a Visitor Centre, complete with green roofs, and laid on a shuttle bus. There was a tunnel of pleached Rowans leading to the Centre.”
An enthusiastic gardener who has been making a garden for 40 years in her home in has been making a garden in Longstock and writes about it, Mrs Burnfield was very interested in the gardens that are beautifully maintained at Glenveagh Castle.
She said: “I’ve found another magnificent garden that I was previously unaware of. Most of it is of the wild and woody variety, but the Kitchen Garden was amazing.
“Divided into the traditional four quadrants it had mixed borders all round and flowers and vegetables sown in strips in a glorious mixture of colours.
“Lots of interesting plant combinations to take home with me. This trip is proving to be a gardener’s delight. I didn’t even go into the Castle, I just enjoyed the garden.”