Ards Friary, with its spectacular grounds and beaches, lies on the edge of Sheephaven Bay, and boasts magnificent Donegal scenery.
Here you find wooded trails and coastline paths, just begging to be explored.
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Ards Friary Near Creeslough
I was sorting through some of my photos from our trip to Donegal last summer. I took some lovely, sunny shots mid-July, when the sun nearly split the stones in Ireland, much to the delight of all the locals.
One advantage of being married to a Donegal man is that he knows his home county's hidden hideaways. We can always get off the beaten path to find a perfect spot for fun in the sun.
When Donegal's big beaches are crowded on a a sunny summer day, my hubby takes us straight to a quiet secluded strand, far from the madding crowd.
We know where the secret coves and hidden beaches lie along Donegal's stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Look to the right in the photo above. You'll notice Donegal's sleeping man mountain.
Last summer we found a beautiful sandy beach in Ards Forest Park near Creeslough.
We spent the day soaking up the rays of the usually infrequently seen Donegal sun.
Spectacular Sandy Beaches
Ards Forest Park and Friary is a haven of peace and tranquility. This woodland gem, with miles of walking tracks and secret little coves and beaches, is a truly refreshing getaway.
I would go so far as to say this little enclave boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in Ireland.
The varied landscape just makes the heart sing with happiness, strolling past sandy shores, grassy dunes, cliffs, salt marshes and beautiful woodlands.
Donegal's rugged coastline looks its very best on a sunny day beneath blue, cloudless skies.
My kids were so happy to be here, they declared -
"This place is better than Florida."
I wonder if they would vote for Donegal over Florida on a typical rainy summer's day.
No beach rentals to be found in this neck of the woods. If you need a deck chair, you better lug it along yourself.
This is going to the shore Irish style.
We walked about a mile along the coast to find a secluded beach that simply took our breath away.
No crowds to deal with here. Just a few sunbathers scattered across the sands, and sail boats bobbing in the water.
Clear Atlantic Waters
Airplanes heading westwards towards America passed overhead. The kids delighted in spotting contrails in the clear blue sky.
Some smaller aircraft probably flew overhead from Donegal Airport in Carrickfinn.
A glorious day was had by all swimming in the cold waters of the Atlantic.
Never be deceived by an Irish sunny day. The water is always freezing, no matter how hot the day may be.
And don't forget the sunscreen!!!
My crew have luminous Irish skin, that burns to a crisp in double quick time.
And so, if you fancy a day building sandcastles in the sun, Ards Forest Park is the perfect getaway.
Ireland's beaches are simply breathtaking. All we need is a little sunshine, to truly confirm the Emerald Isle is a little slice of heaven.
If you like online jigsaws, Ards Friary features on this Irish scenery puzzle.
Here's hoping Ireland's summer in 2014 will be as good or even better than last year. Wishing Ireland's tourists happy, sunny days in the months ahead.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade
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