Knockalla or Port Salon Beach, County Donegal – One Of Ireland’s Most Beautiful Beaches

Ireland’s beaches are spectacular, and one of the most stunning of all is Knockalla Strand, also known as Portsalon Beach, in County Donegal.

And so, as everyone head’s back to work on this Monday morning,I thought why not start the week off with some beautiful scenery.

Hopefully, these peaceful views of Ireland’s shoreline will set the tone for the rest of your week.


Ireland may be a small country, but as an island, she boasts a long and varied coastline.  The actual length of this coastline is debatable, and any statistic for said length is totally dependent on how much detail was used when measuring.

There may always be a hidden cove not traversed or measured.  However, the Ordnance Survey of Ireland estimates the total length of Ireland’s shoreline at 3171 kilometers (approx 1981 miles).

Beaches of Donegal

And Knockalla is no hidden cove. It is approached from an elevated cliff side road, with amazing viewing points along the way. 

Donegal’s coast is festooned (I love that word) with sandy beaches, and Knockalla is probably the most breath taking of all.

Beautiful beaches of Ireland and Donegal

 This is Ireland at its best – the Ireland made famous in poetry, song, legend and film.

Beautiful Donegal

Knockalla lies on the western shores of Lough Swilly, with commanding views of the Inishowen peninsula across the waves.

Beaches like this are why Ireland’s coastline is described as dramatic.

Donegal Coastline

 When designing Ireland, God spared no extravagance.


Donegal is an untamed landscape, with three-quarters of its borders formed by the Atlantic Ocean.   The sea has shaped this land.

Ireland's Shoreline

This magnificent beach is a photographer’s paradise.

This is Ireland, at her best – a place of tranquility and great natural beauty.

Most beautiful beach in the world

Portsalon was named the second most beautiful beach in the world by “The Guardian”, or maybe it was “The Observer” newspaper.

I’m not quite sure who awarded this beach the runner-up prize in the world beach beauty pageant, but let’s face it, who cares.

Port Salon Beach

Portsalon’s beauty may be much appreciated around the world, but luckily, the Donegal climate means it can be enjoyed without having to deal with crowds similar to those found on sunny Mediterranean shores.  

These photos were taken on a bright, sunny day, and not a soul can be seen on the strand below…… Only in Ireland……

Sandy beach in Donegal

Even on a cold winter’s day, a run on this beach is perfect for getting rid of excess energy, and clearing the cobwebs from the brain.

Top Ten Beaches in the world

And so, to start my week off on a positive note, I am imagining myself going for a leisurely stroll along a sandy beach in Donegal.

You’re welcome to join me on my mindful morning walk.


View from Port Salon

For me, the wind is blowing a soft gentle mist across my face, cleansing my spirit and strengthening me for a busy week ahead.

Stiff breezes feature in all my Irish imaginings – I wonder why?

Donegal Beach

Wishing you all a wonderful week, full of promise and accomplishments.

I hope this little tour of Knockalla Strand has stirred your Irish dreams, and lifted your spirits on this Monday morning.

Remember, ocean blues are the only Monday morning blues allowed in my little corner of the web.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

Irish Rainbow Blessings

Rainbows remind us of possibilities, opportunities and hope. Rainbows are God’s promise – His miracle.

In the midst of life’s storms it is often hard to spot a rainbow, but I think the most important thing is to remember, these miracles of the sky only appear after the storm.

In Ireland rainbows symbolize blessings from heaven, and this is reflected in some of the wise old words from generations past.

In today’s post, I have some wonderful photos of Irish rainbows, compliments of my brother-in-law, which I’ve paired with some traditional old Irish rainbow blessings and sayings.

Rainbow over Sutton, County Dublin

” May God give you…

For every storm, a rainbow,

For every tear, a smile,

For every care, a promise,

And a blessing in each trial.

For every problem life sends,

A faithful friend to share,

For every sigh, a sweet song,

And an answer for each prayer.”

~ Old Irish Blessing


Irish Rainbow in cloudy sky

May you have all the happiness

And luck that life can hold

- And at the end of your rainbows

May you find a pot of gold.

~ Old Irish Blessing


Donegal Rainbow

May you always have work for your hands to do.

May your pockets hold always a coin or two.

May the sun shine bright on your window pane.

May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.

May the hand of a friend always be near you.

And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

~ Old Irish Blessing


Colors of the rainbow

Wishing you a rainbow

For sunlight after showers—

Miles and miles of Irish smiles

For golden happy hours—

Shamrocks at your doorway

For luck and laughter too,

And a host of friends that never ends

Each day your whole life through!

~ Old Irish Blessing


Irish Rainbow

“May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day.

May songbirds serenade you every step along the way.

May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that’s always blue.

And may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through.”

~ Irish Blessing


Rainbow arc

“A rainbow afternoon,  

Good weather coming soon.”

 ~ Old Irish Saying


Pot of Gold at the end of the rainbow


“Don’t miss all the colors of the rainbow,

Looking for that pot of gold.”

 ~ Old Irish Saying


Double Rainbow in Donegal

 “The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow,

But the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.”

 ~ Old Irish Saying


I hope these lovely rainbows, and Irish words of wisdom from the past, remind you that life is a rainbow of promise.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom


Rutabaga And Carrot Soup

Rutabagas and carrots make a comforting, slightly sweet soup.  The combination of deep orange carrots and pale yellow rutabaga flesh, produces an amber colored soup, just perfect for fall.

And so, to kick off my soup making recipes for this autumn season, I thought it might be a good idea to start with a simple, easy-to-make soup, using the rutabaga, a vegetable I believe is not fully appreciated in America.


Firstly, let’s name this soup correctly……


Is it rutabaga and carrot soup?


Swede and carrot?


Turnip and carrot? or….


Neeps and carrot soup?


Well, the answer depends on where you live, in the world, and since most of my readers are living in America, I’m naming it “rutabaga and carrot” soup.

“Rutabaga” is the common American and Canadian term for this yellow root we plan to turn into soup. The name comes from the Swedish word Rotabagge, which apparently means “root bag”. This vegetable has also been called  “yellow turnip” on the western shores of the Atlantic.

In other parts of the English speaking world, “swede” is the preferred term, because it is in fact a Swedish turnip. The name swede, for short, was adopted in England, where a true turnip has whiter flesh, and is about the size of a tennis ball. But for some strange reason the English swede and the American rutabaga is always referred to as a turnip in Ireland.

Now to confuse matters further, said vegetable is sometimes referred to as “neeps” in Scotland. Like the Irish, Scottish people call the swede a turnip, and neeps is a derivation of the term “new turnips”. So when you’re throwing together some “neeps and haggis” reach for a rutabaga, not those wee things English people and Americans call turnips.


 A Little Irish Turnip History:


The turnip features prominently in the annals of Irish history during the time of the Great Hunger (1845-1850).


“They were to the starving ones supposed to be a “God-send,”

and were eaten with great avidity, both cooked and raw.”

from Annals Of The Famine In Ireland – Chapter VI (2)
1851 by Asenath Nicholson


Fire was a scarce commodity for many of the poor during these hungry years, since they were too weak to cut and harvest turf. Therefore, they cooked only the turnip greens, while the tuber was eaten raw.

But turnips were not as nutritious as the potato, and had to be eaten in great bulk to sustain life. However, those who were sick and dying were offered turnips to eat ……


…….”not because of its nutrition, but because of the absence of it,

not having sufficient to injure the weakest body.”

from Annals Of The Famine In Ireland – Chapter VI (2)
1851 by Asenath Nicholson


During the famine years, growing turnips was advocated as an alternative to potatoes, and ever since the lowly vegetable has been cultivated extensively in Ireland.


Turnips – The Original Jack-O-Lanterns


Originally Jack-O-Lanterns were created in Ireland and Scotland by chiseling out a turnip or rutabaga, and placing hot embers or coals inside.  The light represented the souls of the dead, and was used to ward off “Stingy Jack,” a notorious fellow who made a deal with the devil.

When the Irish came across the waters to the United States they started to make Jack O’Lanterns at Halloween, replacing the Irish turnip with the more plentiful American pumpkin.  Artistically inclined carvers started to create faces on larger pumpkins, which were far easier to pulp than the old rock-hard turnips of their homeland.

And finally, after all that rambling, here’s my soup recipe ….


Ingredients for Rutabaga and Carrot Soup:


Ingredients for Rutabaga and Carrot Soup

  •  2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 medium rutabaga diced
  • 2 large carrots sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • black pepper
  • salt to season
  • 1/4 cup of fresh whipping cream (optional)

Peeling and chopping a rutabaga is simpler than it might seem. My step-by-step rutabaga handling instructions can be found here.

Sweating vegetables for soup

Melt the butter in the bottom of a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the carrots, turnips and onion, stirring them well to completely coat them in butter. 

Cover the pot and sweat the vegetables for 10 minutes to soften them. Shake the pan every 3 minutes to prevent any sticking, but resist the temptation to lift the lid. Trapping the steam in the pot is key to building up a good vegetable sweat.

Adding chicken broth for rutabaga and carrot soup

Add the stock and season well with salt and pepper. I like plenty of freshly ground black pepper in this soup.

Bring the soup to boiling point, lower the heat. then cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are nice and tender.

Simmering turnip and carrot soup

Turn the heat off and let the soup cool a little before blending it.

Pureeing turnip soup

I use my hand held blender to blitz the vegetables, but a regular stand-up blender can also be used. Complete the process in batches if using a regular blender.

Cream and rutabaga and carrot soup

And finally, add the cream. This step is optional, but I love the extra depth of flavor cream lends to this soup. You can add the cream in the pot and blitz the soup again, or do as I do, and add a spoon of cream to each bowl before serving.

Here’s the printable recipe:

Rutabaga and Carrot Soup

Serves 10
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 5 minutes
Meal type Soup


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 Medium rutabaga (diced)
  • 2 Large carrots
  • 1 Large onion (chopped)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • black pepper
  • salt


  • 1/4 cup whipping cream


Step 1 Melt the butter in the bottom of a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the carrots, turnips and onion, stirring them well to completely coat them in butter.
Step 2 Cover the pot and sweat the vegetables for 10 minutes to soften them.
Step 3 Add the stock and season well with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to boiling point, lower the heat, then cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.
Step 4 Turn the heat off and let the soup cool a little before blending it.
Step 5 Add the cream and stir into the soup. Serve warm.

This soup is a tribute to the humble rutabaga. I love it’s uniquely sweet and peppery flavors.

Happy soup making!


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom

Donegal Sunsets

As the sun sets, magic spreads across the world.  But according to Oscar Wilde, my obsession with sunsets is very old fashioned, and a sign that I may even be a bit of a stick-in-the-mud.

Oscar Wilde quote about sunsets

Oscar Wilde believed we don’t value sunsets because we don’t have to pay for them.  No matter how “unfashionable” it may be, I will always love sunsets and twilight

When my brother-in-law sent me his photos of the setting sun in Donegal, I was absolutely ecstatic. He shot these photos outside his own front door, looking across the River Swilly near Letterkenny.

A big thank you to my resident Donegal photographer for these beautiful shots.

Here’s one of my favorite Irish blessings to accompany these images.


As the sun goes down

May your joys be as bright as the morning,


Sunset near Letterkenny, Donegal

and your sorrows merely be shadows

that fade in the sunlight of love.


Donegal Sunset

May you have enough happiness to keep you sweet,


Golden skies

Enough trials to keep you strong,


Cloudy sunset

Enough sorrow to keep you human,


Golden summer sky in Ireland

Enough hope to keep you happy,


Irish Sky at Twilight

Enough failure to keep you humble,


Irish Sunset

Enough success to keep you eager,


Mackrel Sky in Ireland

Enough friends to give you comfort,


Sunset in Ireland

Enough faith and courage in yourself to banish sadness,


The setting sun

Enough wealth to meet your needs


As the sun sets in Ireland

and one thing more;


Watch the sun go down in Donegal

Enough determination to make each day

a more wonderful day than the one before.

- Old Irish Blessing


Somehow, I think if Oscar Wilde was with us today, he too might choose to be “unfashionable” and would love these sunsets too.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)


Irish American Mom

Silly McGilly Giveaway – Ireland’s Magical Leprechaun

Silly McGilly is a friendly little leprechaun who loves nothing more than playing tricks on children.

Silly McGilly's AirplaneSt. Patrick’s Day may be a long way away, but since today is September 17th, and our big Irish celebration is 6 months from today, why not seize the opportunity to introduce you to a little leprechaun, and host a giveaway to mark the day.

I suppose we can treat September 17th like St. Patrick’s half birthday. My eldest boy celebrates a summer birthday, so I thought he would miss marking the occasion with his school classmates. Not in America!

Half-birthdays have now been invented to create a little razzmatazz for summer birthday kids, midway through their year.

“Wow!” is all this Irish-born mother could say, upon seeing a colorfully decorated, half-birthday hat, sported home from school one winter’s afternoon. Somehow, I don’t think Sr. Mary or any of the other Irish nuns who taught me, were ever worried about half birthdays.

Even so, dear St. Patrick, Irish American Mom is getting on board with this “we’re half-way-there” celebration thing, and introducing everyone to none other than Silly McGilly, on this the mid-way point to your Big Day.

Who Is Silly McGilly?


Silly McGillySilly McGilly is a friendly, Irish leprechaun.  When March arrives each year, all leprechauns love to take a break from shoe-making. Silly loves to travel all over the world from Ireland in the weeks before St. Patrick’s Day, to play fun little tricks on children.

His story is told in a rhythmical, rhyming book, which lets little ones know to place Silly’s doll by a window each evening.  When  Silly sees the leprechaun doll he knows he’s welcome to come and play tricks.

That’s when the high jinx and leprechaun magic begin. Sometimes he leaves treats. He loves to write jokes or limericks. He’s even been known to turn food or even toilet water green.  His antics are as limitless as your imagination, but the creators of this fun little toy have many suggestions to help you create excitement in the run-up to St. Patrick’s Day.


“I’ll work my shenanigans while you are snug asleep,

don’t worry that I’ll wake you, I will not make a peep.  

When you wake up, find the trick that I’ve done.  

I hope your whole family will join in the fun.”

- Excerpt from Silly McGilly’s book.


Silly McGilly In The WindowSilly can even be used in the classroom to add some green sparkle to those dark, cold mornings in early March. In schools he sometimes leaves materials for making a St. Patrick’s Day craft, and he’s even been so daring as to change pupils’ names. Everyone’s Irish with an “O’ or a Mc” before their name.  The possibilities for leprechaun school fun are endless.

Silly McGilly has his very own website, and there, parents and teachers can find ideas for leprechaun fun and games. Silly has even created downloadable learning templates, including Shamrock Rhymes, Letters to McGilly, and Silly McGilly Scrapbook templates.


Who Created Silly McGilly?


Silly McGilly is the brain child of three Irish American sisters from New Jersey. Michelle Dougherty, Eileen Cowley, and Victoria Coffey have always enjoyed celebrating their Irish heritage, especially around St. Patrick’s Day. Their own children inspired them to create Silly McGilly, the perfect little leprechaun to add family magic to March days and nights. You don’t even need to be Irish to join in the fun.


Title page of Silly McGilly

Charlotte Cheng beautifully illustrated Silly’s story.  When she is not creating art on walls, sidewalks and paper, she’s usually dreaming of Ireland.


How To Purchase Silly McGilly:


Silly McGilly can be purchased online for $34.95.  From 9/10/14 through 10/17/14 in celebration of 1/2 way to St. Patrick’s Day, autographed copies of the book are being offered.

Silly even has his very own Facebook page.


The Giveaway:


The creators of Silly McGilly contacted me to see if I would help spread the word about their magical creation. I love to support Irish American entrepreneurs,  so I’m delighted to share a little leprechaun fun with you through this giveaway.

The prize is a Silly McGilly giftpack, which includes one 8″ Silly McGilly plush doll, and one beautifully illustrated hardcover copy of the 8.5″x 8.5″ Silly McGilly book.  The set is beautifully packaged in a keepsake box.

Silly McGilly Giftpack

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment on this blog post, or for an additional entry you can follow Irish American Mom on Pinterest. Then simply complete your entry on the following Rafflecopter widget.  The winner will be announced on Wednesday, September 24th. Just check the widget below to learn who is the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


A big thank you to Big Treasure Publications for providing this wonderful prize, and best of luck to all who enter. I’m looking forward to reading all your leprechaun inspired magical comments.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom


And now a little bit of legalize through a quick disclosure: Irish American Mom does not have any financial connection with Big Treasure Publications and did not receive any cash payment for publishing this post and giveaway. I did however receive a giftpack including Silly McGilly’s book for review purposes.  This in no way influenced my review.  Thank you to all who support the wonderful Irish and Irish American enterprises who sponsor giveaways on my site.