I have been taking a group of golfing friends and clients to Ireland a dozen or so times over the last 20 years. Of course, we have played the famous links courses in Ireland and Northern Ireland, many of which rank high on the World’s Top 100. From time to time though, we have tried to experience some of the lesser-known links courses, which we find are incredibly welcoming and a delight to play. One such club was Ballyliffin, located way up in the north of County Donegal on the Inishowen Peninsula. We finally played there in 2012 and we fell in love with the courses, the clubhouse and many of its members.
We returned this year to play in the Great North Links Challenge, a three day event on the Strand Course at Portstewart, the famous Dunluce Course (home of the 2019 British Open) at Royal Portrush and on the Glashedy Course at the Ballyliffin Golf Club. We also brought our wives on this trip, and we were very pleasantly surprised at how much fun they had sightseeing while we enjoyed time on the course.
Everyone should put Ballyliffin Golf Club on their Ireland golf itinerary. There are two outstanding, contrasting links courses and 36 wonderful holes making up one of the finest golf properties to be found anywhere in the world. The expansive panoramic views of countryside, coastline and ocean make it hard to keep your eyes on the ball! The Old Links and the Glashedy Links will not disappoint. In addition, courses like Donegal and some of Northern Ireland’s top links such as Castle Rock, Portstewart and Royal Portrush are all within striking range on a day basis.
The largest peninsula in all of Ireland, Inishowen Peninsula, has a picturesque location and rich history. It includes Ireland’s most northerly point, beautiful farms, deserted beaches, incredible seafood, sand dunes, some of the highest in Europe, as well as mountains, harbors and even the Northern Lights.
Over the 6 days, our wives visited:
- Malin Head, at the very tip of the Inishowen Peninsula, is mainland Ireland’s most northerly point. Over millions of years the wild Atlantic has carved dramatic crevices into the rugged headland, such as Hell’s Hole – a long, deep, narrow chasm where the swells below churn and roar. Birds flock to this remote but beautiful place, blown in on the Atlantic winds.
- Doagh Famine Village is a recreation of a village at the time of the Great Potato Famine of the 19th century and illustrates how rural life changed in Donegal into the modern era.
- Cooking classes with famous Irish Chef, Brian McDermott, where the ladies learned how to create traditional Irish soda bread, butternut squash soup, braised chicken, a local beet salad with honey mustard vinaigrette and a caramel covered apple cobbler, and of course, a few glasses of wine.
- Spa Treatments at the Rock Crystal Spa at our hotel, the Ballyliffin Lodge.
- A visit to Glenveagh National Park with its castle and gardens — the second largest national park in Ireland.
- Visits to Northern Ireland for a historic walking tour of Derry, the castles of the North Coast, Giant’s Causeway, a tour of Bushmills Distillery (with a formal tasting) and fine dining at the Bushmills Inn.
- A drive along part of the Wild Atlantic Way, which begins in Inishowen. This is an incredible seaside drive along Ireland’s West Coast.
- A hike to Glenevin Waterfall outside the quaint town of Clonmany.
- A visit to Carndonagh, the site of the Donagh Cross, which belonged to an early Christian monastery founded by St. Patrick.
Inishowen is a part of Ireland that many tourists miss and there is much more to see on our next trip! On your next departure to the Emerald Isle, make plans to get out to the upper west and north coasts, home to some of Ireland’s most stunning scenery. At Frontiers, we know Ireland incredibly well and we look forward to sharing our experiences with you!
-Kristene & Mike FitzgeraldNextGEN gallery is not installed/inactive!