Saturday 22 October 2016

Donegal home boasts breathtaking views of Lough Swilly

Rathmullan's 'flight' was centuries ago, but you won't want to leave

Alison Gill

Published 13/05/2016 | 02:30

Built in 1999, the four-bed property is just two miles outside the village.
Built in 1999, the four-bed property is just two miles outside the village.
Entrance to the property.
The lounge.
View across Lough Swilly from the house.
No 8's kitchen.

In September 1607, Hugh O'Neill, the 2nd Earl of Tyrone, and Rory O'Donnell, the 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, set sail from Rathmullan, a small Donegal village on the shores of Lough Swilly. They fled with 90 of their friends, family and followers.

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Their intended destination was Spain, but stormy weather resulted in landfall in France. They made their way overland to Italy, and remained in Rome in voluntary exile, never to return to Ireland.

This event became known as 'The Flight of the Earls', and is widely regarded as one of the most perplexing events in Irish history. Some historians argue that the flight was forced upon them from the Tudor conquest of Ireland; others say it was a strategic venture that backfired.

Whether it was treasonable plotting or an attempt to circumvent their enemy's attempts to destroy them, the 'Flight' marked the formal end of the power of Gaelic aristocracy in Ireland and cleared the way for the Plantation of Ulster.

Fanad Head lighthouse.
Fanad Head lighthouse.

The village of Rathmullan has long since recovered from being the centre-point of this story, and is so picturesque and peaceful that it's hard to believe anyone ever wanted to leave.

The house

No 8 Killygarvan Lower is a four-bedroom detached home built in 1999. It is about two miles outside Rathmullan and has partial sea views.

The tiled entrance hall leads into a large living room which has a black-tiled fireplace and double doors out to a patio area. There is also an aperture that leads from the living room into the kitchen/dining room.

The latter is fitted with pine units and granite worktops.

The sale includes a Neff electric oven, four-ring hob, integrated fridge-freezer and dishwasher. There is a small breakfast bar area and a door to the utility room which houses the washing machine and tumble dryer.

Also on this floor is a double bedroom with sea views and built-in wardrobes. The main bathroom with its white suite with brass fittings, is on the ground floor too.

Upstairs, you'll find three more bedrooms and a shower room. The master bedroom has magnificent sea views and a door to the loft.

Rathmullan beach
Rathmullan beach

Outside, the driveway is gravelled and has space for numerous cars. The lawns surrounding the house are well-maintained, and there's also a shed and ranch fencing.

The vast majority of contents, fixtures and appliances will be included in the sale.

The locale

The property is set about 3km outside Rathmullan, in the direction of Portsalon.

Rathmullan is situated on the western shores of Lough Swilly, and is 11km from Ramelton and 12km from Milford. The village has a population of just over 500.

A drive from Dublin to Donegal would take about three and a half hours, and Belfast is just over two hours away.

Donegal airport is just an hour away, offering twice daily flights to Dublin. It was recently voted one of the world's top 10 scenic airports.

The village itself has a couple of small shops and a post office. For supermarkets, Letterkenny, with its branches of Aldi, Dunnes Stores, Tesco and Lidl, is just under half an hour's travel time by car.

What to do

Rathmullan beach, a two-mile sandy strand, is a summer haven for holiday makers, walkers and horse-riding enthusiasts.

You can charter a boat from the pier with Rathmullan Charters, which specialises in sight-seeing, corporate tours and evening fishing trips. Once on board, follow the coast northwards along the peninsula to the dramatic point at Fanad lighthouse.

Rathmullan is also an ideal base from which to explore Donegal's Wild Atlantic Way, from Malin Head to Fanad Head and Inishowen to Slieve League.

Glenveagh National Park and Gardens is about half an hour away. The estate was created by John George Adair, a wealthy land speculator from Laois, in 1857. He began the construction of Glenveagh Castle in 1867 after marrying his American wife, Cornelia. After her husband's sudden death in 1885, Cornelia took over the running of the estate and introduced deer stalking. Over the next 30 years she became a much-noted society hostess.

Following her death in 1921, Glenveagh fell into decline, and was occupied by both the Anti-Treaty and Free State Army forces during the Civil War.

The last private owner of the estate was Henry McIlhenny of Philadelphia. He devoted much of his time to restoring the castle and developing the gardens. In 1975, he agreed the sale of the estate to the Office of Public Works, which then opened it to the public as a national park in 1984. Admission to the national park, visitors centre and restaurant is free, and tours of the castle are €5.

Just north of Rathmullan, a relatively new brewery known as Kinnegar is open to craft beer enthusiasts for tours. Set up in 2012, the small business produces seven beers as well as a range of special and seasonal brews.

Eating and drinking

Rathmullan House is the big draw in the area, and attracts tourists all year-round. Its award-winning Cook and Gardener restaurant is run by chef Michael Harley, and places huge emphasis on local, quality produce.

Not wanting to be labelled as just a 'special occasion' venue, Rathmullan House rebranded its bar The Tap Room in 2012, and collaborated with local businesses Kinnegar Brewing and Scarpello & Co to create a pizza and beer bar. The result is that you can now enjoy stone-baked pizzas from the outdoor wood-fired oven, accompanied by a selection of Kinnegar beers.

In the heart of the village itself is Belle's Kitchen, styled as an American diner and offering a diverse menu with everything from local fish dishes to toasted sandwiches. This makes it especially popular with families. The two pubs in the village are the Beachcomber Bar and The White Harte Bar. The Beachcomber often has live music, so you can dance the night away while watching the sun set over Lough Swilly.

The crowd

As a seaside village, Rathmullan is a magnet for families and sailing enthusiasts in the summer months. Like most Blue Book hotels, Rathmullan House has a steady stream of visitors throughout the year, and has become a big wedding venue. There are a few holiday villages dotted around the beach, but nothing so large as to destroy the tranquillity and beauty of the area.

What's not to like

Donegal is the only county with no motorway or trains. The lack of motorway can add almost an hour to your journey. Some may see this as a positive, with a more scenic drive and plenty of opportunities for stopovers along the way.

No 8 Killygarvan Lower

Rathmullan, Co Donegal

Asking price: €248,000

Agent: Franklins, Letterkenny, (074) 918 8000

Indo Property

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