Siog, a 10 year old border collie dog and Lugh, a 4-year old border collie dog
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Our house sitter(s) will have to enjoy living in the countryside, surrounded by hills, islands and sea, be prepared to go for daily walks with Siog and Lugh and water the house plants.
Love dogs and enjoy being in the company of Siog and Lugh to take them for walks, feed them and care for them, water the house plants every few days.
Donegal is a place strongly linked to ancient Celtic myths and legends and wonderful traditional Irish musicians, singers and dancers, with Enya, Altan, Rory Gallagher and top performers in the worldwide hit show ‘Riverdance’ among artists born here.
In terms of physical beauty, few, if any, regions throughout Ireland compare with Donegal. Located on the famous, scenic ‘Wild Atlantic Way,’ it is a picturesque land of rugged mountains, rivers, islands, lakes, sheer sea-cliffs and ancient turf bogs. No wonder its nickname is the ‘Forgotten Land’ and that National Geographic Traveller named Donegal as one of ‘Coolest Places on the Planet.’
These are just some of the reasons why we think ‘Anam Cara’ (Gaelic for ‘soul friend’) is an apt name for our home. Its prime location amid the soothing beauty of the surrounding rolling Donegal landscape with clear views over the Atlantic Ocean, a basket of offshore islands and the freshest of sea air encourages pure relaxation.
As travel writer and photographer, we are frequently abroad on assignments and warmly welcome reliable, honest, Nature and culture-loving house-sitters interested to enjoy our little ‘Irish paradise’ and take care of our playful border collies. Siog (Irish for ‘fairy’) is 10 and Lugh, named after the Celtic Sun God, is 4. They both love countryside and coastal walks and the warmth of human company.
Our single-storey home is nestled near a mountain overlooking the sea in an area known as Gaoth Dobhair in northwestern Ireland. A good road leads to a chain of charming seaside towns including Bunbeg, Gortahork and Falcarragh, all within a leisurely 25-minute drive along the coast.
Two bedrooms are available to sitters (with comfortable double beds in each) - one with a sea view and the other with a mountain view. Our home also has a large, modern, fully-equipped kitchen, sitting-room and a newly-extended living room, and a dining area with large bay-windows granting excellent views over the Ocean and the islands. Choice of heating includes oil or – for a more romantic atmosphere – wood-fired stove in the kitchen and open-fireside in the living room.
History – This unique part of Ireland has featured in many television programmes, newspapers, magazines, and even novels and plays. In short, Donegal is one of the most ancient, authentic regions of Ireland, with a colorful history dating back to earliest Man and encapsulating some of the most important events in Irish history, including the last of the Gaeilge Chieftains leaving its shores for the European continent.
Archaeology – Some of the most intriguing ancient archaeological sites, both from the Celtic Pagan and Christian eras, lie inside Donegal’s borders, within easy reach of our home.
Landscape – Due to its sheer physical diversity, Donegal is a nirvana for hikers, cyclists and joggers. Or simply those who love to wander through Nature.
Bloody Foreland, a grassy, smooth-sided, rocky-topped hill right behind our home (almost in our backyard), is easily walked in less than an hour with panoramic views over the coastal islands and surrounding mountains from the top.
Muckish Mountain – its unique contours gives this landmark a ‘loaf of bread’ topography. There are many marked paths to its summit, again with spectacular views over surrounding countryside.
Errigal – an intriguing, majestic, silver pyramid-shaped mountain that gazes down upon the mystic Poisoned Glen, a name steeped in Celtic legend, and the peaceful adjoining Dunlewey Lake where a special ferry boat offers pleasure trips. Errigal is not a difficult climb for someone of average fitness and attracts many people seeking outdoor pursuits and brisk exercise.
Seascape – One of the many characteristics Donegal is blessed with, and particularly its north-westerner corner where our home is located, is the soft sound of the ocean. Every turn in the road grants a new and different perspective on the mighty Atlantic. Delightfully, ‘Anam Cara’ provides an all-encompassing sight from outside our own front door, with views down to seven islands including Gola, which helped inspire Robert Louis Stevenson to write his classic tale, ‘Treasure Island’ and off which galleons of the Spanish Armada sank 500 years ago. A ten-minute car journey brings you to the pretty harbour of Bunbeg from which a ferryboat leaves for the 20-minute journey to Gola where simple paths make walking and sightseeing easy.
Northwest Donegal boasts a number of restaurants and cafes.
Teac Jack, a charming, boutique hotel, a mere five-minute drive from our home, offers a varied menu including succulent steaks and a special mouth-watering fresh ‘seafood symphony’ dish in its restaurant and chicken wings, soups and hamburgers in its more informal pub atmosphere. Overlooking the sea, it also hosts live music concerts, ranging from traditional Irish to pop and country and western. Kitty’s Café has created a strong reputation for tasty homemade dishes in a pleasant village-like atmosphere.
Donegal’s middle name is ‘music.’ As one visitor remarked, “You can’t toss a stone without hitting a musician on the head.” And it certainly lives up to its reputation, with an array of venues where one can enjoy singers and groups, some formal on stage and informal – ‘seisuns’ in pubs where musicians gather weekly. Donegal’s is famous for its unique Irish traditional style of fiddle playing but other popular instruments include accordion, tin whistle and bodhran drum.
Aside from local amateur productions, a new theater has recently opened in nearby Bunbeg offering dance, theatre and live concerts. An all-year schedule of performances is provided by An Grianan Theatre in Letterkenny, the largest town in Donegal, a leisurely one-hour drive past the National Park of Glenveagh with its historic, lakeside castle. Varied theater options are also available in Derry, just across the border in northern Ireland (90 minutes drive away), Strabane (about the same distance) and Ballybofey.
A strong Wi-Fi connection is available in our home.
It is very important to consider renting a car as the area can only be enjoyed if one can reach easily to different places. Also, a love of dogs is very important as Siog and Lugh are used to traveling with us in the car to walks and day trips. They also sleep in the house (in their own bed) during the night.
The sitters are expected to keep the house clean and tidy. A security deposit is required. Costs exceeding the level of electricity, fuel for heating and internet we use normally are expected to be covered by sitter.
Looking after Síog and Lugh was a real treat for many reasons. Sean and Columbia's house was very comfortable, very clean and everything was organised for the dogs before they left. I was kindly given a comprehensive list with maps of all the local beaches and beauty spots to bring the dogs for walks, which I had great pleasure in doing. Lugh is a young male Collie so has plenty of energy. Síog is an older female Collie, but still has plenty of energy. Both are affectionate and like their heads rubbed. ( Don't we all?!!) Once they got 1 long walk or 2 walks daily, they were happy. Obviously Donegal is one of the nicest places in Ireland, so bringing them for walks on mountains, forest, islands and beautiful empty beaches is a joy. We did climb Mount Errigal and near the summit it can be tricky with dogs on or off the leads, especially if they get excited when other people reach the summit. Their house looks out at the ocean as can be seen in their photos, and bloody foreland is on the back door. ( A 40 minute walk up the hill and you can see Tory Island!) I was very comfortable in the house, with full use of the kitchen and living rooms, where I was able to light a wood/turf fire daily and do my work - writing away to my heart's content. Sean and Columbia welcomed me with a tasty lunch and left everything is perfect order. They are very decent, obliging and obviously love their dogs. I kept them up to date with regular messages and all the locals that I met knew them well. The walks around the area are beautiful, so walking 2 border collies is a pleasure which keeps you fit. A definite return trip for me if schedules allow. Go raibh maith agaibh, Seán agues Columbia, Kevin
We had a lovely 18 days taking care of the Border Collies SIOG and LUGH.who were quite energetic and took me for a walk.++!! They had their favorite routes,and loved company and treats,(doggy teeth cleaning sticks).for being good kids. This is the perfect house sit for those who like to ramble on the Wild Atlantic Way.with spectacular views and beaches nearby. There is a hotel not far away with some entertainment , if you can stay awake till 10pm when the music starts..... Lots to see and do.
We loved sweet Siog (the only dog at the time) and all the beautiful places we explored while taking her on our walks. And there are plenty! Sean and Columbia are great owners, fun and interesting people who gave us a good introduction to the house and area, kept in super communication with us and left many ideas of things to do. The best was a list of local gatherings, music sessions, dances, etc. The people were so welcoming! I am happy to discuss our experience further with anyone who considers this housesitting assignment - but I will be jealous!
It have been two very interesting months in which we had beautiful with the most adorable dogs, Siog and Lugh, and have learned to know a lot of ‘faces’ of Donegal, especially when it comes to the weather! A little bit of sun, a lot of stunning sunsets at Bloody Foreland, stormy days and nights, fog, clouds and lots and lots of rain….Very nice to be here together with the one you love. A little lonely when you’re here alone…We had a good connection and communication with Sean and Columbia. They left us well informed in their cosy house and they have the nicest dogs we know!!