Passions: 'I inherited my love of beautiful Donegal from my parents'

The spectacular Irish county is becoming more popular with visitors

When I was growing up in high rise flats in Sighthill in Glasgow my pals would head off to places like Butlins in Ayr and then, a few years later, on package holidays to Spain during the summer and I remember how jealous I felt. There were no holidays for me where you could go along to clubs with lots of other kids or visits to sun-kissed Mediterranean resorts, because every break saw us load up the car and head ‘home’ to Donegal in Ireland.

My parents both came from Donegal and moved to Scotland for work, but they always longed for the ‘old country’ and kept my dad’s family home and farm. I remember thinking I was missing out by always returning to a pretty remote part of Donegal when we got away. But now I realise how lucky I was and I love going back to the very same house with my husband, little boy and our dog several times a year.

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Donegal is a special place. My house there is surrounded by fields with sheep and horses, which my son loves. When we were over recently we opened the bedroom window to see a gorgeous pheasant sitting outside on the wall looking at us. You don’t get that every day in Edinburgh.

And it has the most amazing beaches where you can swim in the Atlantic Ocean or join an outdoor yoga class. The white sand is spotless, and you can often be the only person for miles around.

Then there are the pubs which have always been child-friendly and are increasingly dog-friendly.

Since lockdown, many more people from other parts of Ireland and further afield have discovered the joys of Donegal, but I’m happy to share it with them as there’s space for us all. More holiday makers mean more restaurants and other leisure facilities. And you never know who you might meet. Taylor Swift was spotted on a local beach one summer while Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick have a holiday home in Donegal.

Every time we visit there’s something new to do, such as visiting one of the new whiskey distilleries. And there are always old faithful excursions, such as climbing Errigal, the county’s highest mountain, or just taking in the ocean views, feeling happy to be alive.

Rosemary Gallagher is Head of Commercial Contents at The Scotsman