Ireland - Glencolmkille - Mad Mary
Jul 9, 2004
|The weariness in my body after my 20 mile Antrim ramble must have affected my brain as I read the schedule incorrectly and ended up missing my bus the next morning. Urrghh, what's happening to me? I used to be so organized and now I've messed up twice in 2 days!!
Missing the morning bus was not a good thing as I was going from Ballycastle in the far northeast to Glencolmkille in the far northwest. I had lots of miles to cover along slow-going coastal roads and connections in towns with infrequent bus service. But somehow -- after 3 buses, 1 train, 8 hours, and 1 Indonesia flashback -- I made it!
Although located in the north, Glencolmkille (or "Glen" as it's called) is in County Donegal and technically part of the Republic of Ireland. It's a small coastal village located in a remote area on the Slieve League peninsula. You have to cross miles and miles of desolate bog land before you finally reach Glen tucked in a lush green valley. Little modernization has reached Glen; for instance, bog peat is still cut, dried and used to heat homes here.
So why am I here? Well, as I travelled for hours across this desolate stretch of bogland, I started to ask myself the same question. But, you know me, I like to get off the beaten path, and the coastal area around Glen had been recommended to me not only by a fella I met in Calgary airport the night I left town (who can you trust if not another Canadian?), as well as other backpackers that I met along the way. I figured it was worth checking out.
On one of the buses that day I met a gal from New Zealand who was going to the same hostel as me and was also suffering aches and pains from a recent knee injury. The hostel was a good 2 kilometers uphill from the bus stop, which neither of us were much enthused about. The owner of the little shop next to the bus stop must have overheard our grumblings, because next thing you know we were loaded into his car and whisked up the hill to the hostel. Now, how nice is that!
The view from the hostel was amazing and made the long trip worthwhile. But the best part was meeting Mad Mary, manager of Dooey Hostel. Mary was an amazing blend of: (1) sweet little old Irish lady who offered tea and biscuits when we arrived, and (2) crazy old Irish lady who swore so often and colorfully she could've made a truck driver blush! You never quite knew who you were going to be chatting with, and she switched between the two without skipping a beat.
Mary was from Dublin. She hated the north, referring to it as the "arsehole of the universe". She thought they had "feckin' aweful weather", "feckin' aweful roads", and "feckin' aweful" pretty much everything in Glen!
The hostel itself was an interesting place and attracted a real eclectic group of travellers. It was very old -- not a problem, sometimes old places have tons of charm and character. Each dorm room had 8 beds and its own kitchen and shower/toilet -- again, not a problem, and actually not a bad idea. But there was no sink in the washroom so you had to wash your face and brush your teeth in the kitchen sink and, even worse, the kitchen carried a particularly skanky/unpleasant odour that permeated through the whole bedroom area (even worse near my bunk bed which was next to the kitchen door) -- now I found that to be a bit of a problem!
Despite Mad Mary's special charm and the fantastic view, I honestly felt the hostel was "feckin' aweful"! Call me fussy, but I just couldn't stick it for more than one night. In any case, it started raining cats and dogs the next morning, which totally wiped out the stunning view and gave me the perfect excuse to escape.
In fairness though, I didn't have the opportunity to fully check out the Glen area. I'm not sure what everyone found so charming. Instead, I tended to agree with Mad Mary ... it was an aresehole place with feckin' aweful weather!