So last weekend we decided to go in search of our 'Donegal Dolphins'. I did a bit of homework by contacting Ronan McLaughlin, who hails from the area and takes fabulous shots of his native Inishowen. He gave the best spots to go to in my quest to see the dolphins. And possibly the sharks there too.
So I packed a picnic basked with sandwiches, ham since you ask: mine with mustard, his without, cheeses, apples, ginger nuts and a bag of old bread for the birds on the shorelines. And a big flask of coffee too. Yes, the weather was hot but a cold drink with a ham sandwich? No. A beef sandwich and a cold coke, yes, but not ham.
Along the Swilly I could see clouds sitting over a lot of the Inishowen peninsula further on so knew we would hit fog and mist along the way but in the meantime we enjoyed a little while in Fahan.
We were heading to Ireland's most northerly point, Malin Head as that seems to be the area with the best chance of sighting dolphins at the moment. Of course they're not stationary and have been sighted in other parts of Donegal too. I was lucky enough to see a pod of about 15 - 20 bottle nose dolphins in south west Donegal a few years back. Unfortunately it was a grey day, pouring the rain and with rough seas. I had been taking photographs of an old derelict church when my husband spotted the pod swimming very fast past the pier we were standing on. Although the photographs of the pod weren't great, I was lucky enough to get one of a mother and her calf which was great. But my quest now is to get some good close ups of dolphins. And the odd shark or whale if one wanders across my view too.
Some of the signage along the road to Ireland's most northerly point must give visitors a twist of fear, not knowing what exactly awaits them around the next bend! Not to mention confuse them once they get as far as Malin Head with two different spellings of Banba's Crown at the junction of the approach road to the 'crown'. For those who don't know, it is BaNba NOT BaMba (someone please tell the people who make the signs).
A sort of camaraderie abounds at such times with people standing around chatting about the prospect of seeing the dolphins and some with tales of where they had been seen earlier that day or even week.
The port was buzzing with people enjoying the warmth of the day, albeit without much sunshine. Along with we dolphin hunters, kayakers and swimmers alike shared the sandy port.
But no dolphins!
The dead fish looked like mini sharks and we wondered what had happened. Then I thought that they might be dogfish. It turns out this was correct. A while later on our trip we met a lovely man and his daughter and the father told us that the dogfish were used as bait to catch lobsters (hence all the lobster pots on the pier) and when they go off they are just chucked over the boat into the water. I have since checked and dogfish are actually a small shark. So we did manage to see sharks albeit dead ones!
Passing the time at the pier I noticed a huge upright rock which was just covered in beautiful flaura and so spent some time taking photographs there.
Along the way to the car park we took a side road where the beautiful bog cotton swathed the countryside. I love bog cotton with the little white heads bobbing about in the breeze so was delighted to see so much of it.
At this picnic table some years back we sad to watch the sunset on Ireland's most northerly point. It was freezing cold and I had to wrap myself in my husbands big coat but we sat at the table and enjoyed a very beautiful sunset, feeling like we were the only two people in the world.
Sitting there with my husband the other day waiting for sharks or dolphins to appear and eating our sandwiches, Talking Heads came on the car radio. We both love Talking Heads and I thought, "you know what? it really doesn't get much better than this". Well, it could have had the mist cleared and a pod of dolphins appeared, but we can't have everything!
In the meantime enjoy these excellent photographs of our 'Donegal dolphins' taken by Ronan McLaughlin. You can view more of his work on his site Ronan McLaughlin or his facebook page here.