Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Kerrykeel Holiday Cottage, Donegal

Forde Gardens, Kerrykeel, Donegal

You are welcome to browse the information on this site about the surrounding area, our house, and rental details. We bought the house in 2007, and and have been using it ourselves ever since. We have it furnished and kitted out, for perfect holiday breaks.

We have been on many breaks over the years, just ourselves, or with the children. There is a freedom with self-catering. We knew what we liked and didn't like. We knew what we needed and appreciated. We have poured this knowledge into creating this house. We have tried to describe it as best we can, and have added photographs to show you.
You will note that this is not like a brochure description. We are very aware what it is like trying to find somewhere to stay, so we have put all the extra bits of information that will  help you make your choice. Please contact us with any questions or queries. Our contact details are at the bottom of this page.

The house is semi-detached in a well spaced out friendly and quiet cul-de-sac. There are only 14 houses in total. Most are holiday homes so we find that often our neighbours aren't around. We use the house ourselves, so we have decorated it, and furnished it to a very high standard. Colours, fabrics, fixtures and fittings were all chosen with care; to create a beautiful house, that you can relax in.

We supply linen free of charge, electricity and central heating is included. We also supply towels for the house, but would recommend that you bring some of your own for the beach.

The house has three good sized bedrooms, and we have given you as many sleeping arrangement choices as possible. It is laid out as follows:
Bedroom 1: Master bedroom. With king size bed (luxury mattress), wardrobe, ottoman, and chest of drawers. Ensuite with large electric shower.

Bedroom 2: There are two layout options here. You can have a superking size bed, or unzip the bed in the middle to create two singles. Again luxury mattresses are used. Wardrobe and chest of drawers.

Bedroom 3: Here we have a bunkbed with a double mattress (4ft)on the bottom, and a single on the top. Wardrobe and chest of drawers. The children love this but adults have used the bottom bunk also. There is a sturdy ladder for the children to climb up.

(Please note that there is a new leather sofa bed in the living room. From experience we know what sofabed mattresses can be like, so for extra comfort we bought a memory foam mattress topper to use over the sofabed mattress. It is extremely comfortable.There is also a large graco travel cot for a baby/toddler.)

So there are beds for up to 9 people, plus a travel cot for a baby.

When developing the house design and layout, we always had comfort and ease of use in mind. For example in the main bathroom upstairs, the builder had planned a bath, sink, and toilet. We know that holidays with children or friends often require more options than that, so we rejigged the layout to give us another shower separate from the bath. We are so glad we did this, as numerous trips back from the beach have shown us how valuable this extra shower is.

The layout downstairs is as follows:

Bright tiled hallway, with a large cloak area.
Large, comfortable, bright living room with a wood burning stove, large leather sofa (sofabed), two arm-chairs, and lots of squashy cushions. Sony TV, and DVD player. Freeview, and RTE aerials are fitted. Coffee table holding puzzles, games, magazines and books. There is also a large tub full of toys.

The kitchen again was made a bit more substantial than the original plans as we felt a double oven, built in microwave, and extra storage would be appreciated. There are high and low level cupboards, a fridge and freezer, a gas hob, double oven and microwave. There is a dishwasher, toaster, and kettle. We fitted shelves to hold more games, books, crafts etc. There is a large kitchen table, four chairs and one long bench seat (which seats 4 children or 3 adults). We even have two fold-up padded chairs for when other families came round, and we got them round the table too. You will find the kitchen well stocked with cutlery , crockery pans, and utensils.

From the kitchen, leading to the back door there is a utility area, with a worktop, cupboards, a washing machine and tumble dryer. The downstairs toilet is just off from here too. It is a good size. The controls for the oil fired central heating are here also.

In addition to this, you'll find little touches like a picnic basket, barbeque utensils, beach toys, nets, and wild-life books, make your break just that bit better.
There is ample parking outside and to the side of the house.

From experience we knew an area to sit outside, was imperative. We wanted somewhere to barbeque, privacy from neighbours, somewhere safe for children, the scent of plants, lighting for night-time, somewhere for us to store things, and a play area for the children. And it had to look good. We really thought hard about this.

We have enclosed the back area of the house. It is fenced and gated. We then decked from the back door out to cover most of the back garden. There is lawn to the front of the house so we felt we could do this. We have put a custom-made painted shed in, and we partitioned it; to give a play house for the children, but also a seperate large storage area for all our paraphenalia. The roof of the shed comes out over the deck to create a small verandah area. We thought this would be useful if we wanted to barbeque in the rain. So far we have only needed to do this once, but it was useful shelter.

Around the edge of the decking area we put retained beds using reclaimed sleepers, and planted them up with scented flowers and shrubs. We also planted climbers up over trellis to give us privacy. We also set lights into the deck so we could sit out there in the evening. It is very atmospheric, and we have had some lovely evenings out there with friends.

The deck has two steps down to the original garden level. We made this into a gravel area, with coastal plants, lots of pebbles and shells, with an old sleeper to finish it off. The kids love to play here.

Finally we have outdoor furniture. There is a large extendable wooden table, six chairs and two reclining loungers. There are chair cushions for all of these. We also have a little picnic table for the children. Many a breakfast is spent out there.

The garden is south facing, but as part of it juts out from the side of the house, it catches early morning sun too. This usable space, decked on the same level as the ground floor, has opened up our house, giving us much more room (even if it rains).

Local facilities:
The house is in the village of Kerrykeel, in a quiet cul de sac. Kerrykeel is very relaxed and friendly, and the facilities are excellent. There are two shops, a hardware store, and several pubs which serve food. I remember being delighted the first morning we woke in Kerrykeel. I went to the largest shop to buy eggs, and discovered a hot food area, selling a fry all cooked. Now this was a holiday! I have since often bought cooked chickens etc for picnics There is also a sandwich bar, a very good butchers stand within the shop, and there is freshly baked bread on sale. They sell wine too.
As well as pub grub, there are a few local restaurants too. Ripples, which looks down on Mulroy Bay, is just on the outskirts of the village. They have an extensive menu, the food is great, and the Guinness goes down very well.
We can also recommend the restaurant in Portsalon. It takes us less than 10 minutes to get to Portsalon. It is just the loveliest place with several beaches, a harbour, a pub, restaurant and great take-away. There is a real relaxed atmosphere here at the harbour as people sit outside having a drink and a chat. You can hire a pedalo, go for a paddle/swim, or play in the clean sand. The large beach is perfect for a long walk. Portsalon golf course is also very popular (there are other golf courses in the area too).

Local beaches:

Kerrykeel goes down to the water's edge of Mulroy Bay, but you need to take a short drive or cycle to find the beaches. The choice is amazing. Whilst I have already described Portsalon beach-wise, there is alot more to be explored on the Fanad peninsula. Our favourite has been affectionately called 'the wild-life beach' as there are so many sandy pools full of little hermit crabs, pipe fish, shrimps, larger crabs, and flat fish. We have been lucky enough to find star-fish, and the selection of shells is good. This beach can be found near the area called Cashel, you park on a small grass area and then walk down a slope to the beach. The sand is fine and golden, and the beach is well sheltered.

A drive round Fanad head will show you the light-house. We can recommend you follow every small offshoot road. We came across a small harbour, when the boats had just come in, there was a hold full of crabs and lobsters, a breathtaking sight. Another day I was amazed to discover a dead whale beached up on some rocks. It is still there (stay upwind!). It's a bit gruesome but fantastic to see too. I haven't seen seals yet but my husband did see one. Apparently they are fairly common in Mulroy bay.

Further afield:
Milford is your nearest town. It has a hardware store, play park, supermarket, cafes, takeaways, estate agents, etc. We have eaten from most places here and all are good. We particularly liked Global pizzas, and they will deliver to Kerrykeel if needs be.

Rathmullan is on the other side of the peninsula, and is definitely worth a visit. There is a beach, a magnificent playpark, a harbour, an old castle ruin, a few shops, some very good restaurants/ cafes; and it is all very picturesque.
If you head from Milford to Creeslough and on towards Dunfanaghy, you will come upon Ards Park. We have had some lovely days out here. Really it is a coastal sanctuary. There is a play park, marked walks, a beach with shallow paddling, and a 'boardwalk' out to another beach. The beauty of nature here is to be enjoyed all year round. We have seen really different insects and butterflies in amongst the grass here.

Not far from here is Doe Castle. I wasn't sure how successful a trip this was going to be, I was sure the kids would find it boring. I was wrong, they loved it, it completely fired up their imaginations. We sneaked into an underground passage, which they found very exciting. It is a well preserved castle, beautifully situated on the water.
On rainy days we have gone shopping to Letterkenny (15-20 mins away). There is a large soft play area for kids there called 'Wayne's World'. There is also bowling and go-karting in the same building. There is a huge cinema in Letterkenny too, as well as a great leisure centre with swimming pool.
There is a good Tourist Information Office in Letterkenny, where you can find details of events happening when you are there. Every year Donegal has a few brilliant festivals, with most towns having some sort of carnival/ community event. Donegal seems to very 'Arts focused', and the events are very well planned.
Maps and leaflets relating to alot of these, are in the house. We have naturally more experience on child-friendly activities but there is loads more to do; from surf school, deep sea fishing to fishing on a well stocked fish farm lake, horse-riding, cycling and golf. There really is plenty to do.
It is a good idea to stop off at the Tourist Information (it's on the outskirts of Letterkenny). They will have even more information on what is happening in the area.

So give us a ring or email and we will check out our availability for you. Feedback from people who have stayed is always excellent. They always comment on how handy everything was for their holiday, and about how they loved the house.