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Visiting Derry from Co. Donegal

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posts: 78
reviews: 125
Visiting Derry from Co. Donegal

My Australian family of 4 are planning our Dec/Jan holiday in Ireland, and are trying to work out the best way for us to visit Derry. We have accomodation booked in nth west Co. Donegal for 4 nights in early January, and had originally thought to visit Derry as a day trip from there. We are now thinking that it might be better to drive to Derry when we leave Donegal, and stay the night there, then continue on to Co. Meath where we plan to visit Newgrange (and stay the night in that area). We then have accomodation booked in Dublin (the city we fly out of). We don't want to cut short Newgrange (our guide book suggests allowing at least half a day & I understand it closes at 5pm), but also would like to have a good visit to Derry. Having no idea what the driving conditions will be like, and which route to take (apart from playing around with the route planner websites) we're wondering whether it's realistic to plan to have breakfast in Derry then be at Newgrange around midday!! We would appreciate any input.

posts: 196
1. Re: Visiting Derry from Co. Donegal

Hi Heggos

I think a visit to New Grange would be much easier to do from Derry ~ the drive is about 2.5/3 hours long (I don't know where you are staying in Donegal but you could be adding to that another hour on secondary roads?).

The guide books recommend half a day because that includes a tour of Knowth but this will not be open at this time of year, so you will easily see New Grange in about two hours or less. Don't forget that daylight hours at this time of year will be limited (it starts to get dark around 4pm). If you leave Derry around 10am at the latest you will arrive at Bru na Boinne around 1pm, leaving you plenty of time for a visit ~ you might even be able to squeeze in a visit to Dowth before darkness descends! Dublin is only about 1 hour from Bru na Boinne, so you could broaden your choice of location for an overnight stay (as long as you don't mind driving in the dark!)

Given the time of year, weather conditions etc ~ I think I'd choose to drive the slightly longer route on the better roads (about 3 hours) ~ the A6/M2 to Belfast and then the M1/A1 to Dublin. You can find all the information you need for Derry at:





If you email these sites they will send you (free) guides to the area and to attractions.

Have a great trip!

posts: 78
reviews: 125
2. Re: Visiting Derry from Co. Donegal

Thanks Fivego, that's very helpful.

It would be a shame to miss some of the Northern Ireland countryside, but maybe the A6/M2 & M1 are scenic in their own way?

Would the motorways skirt around Belfast, or would we find ourselves having to negotiate Belfast traffic?

I've looked up the sites you suggested and downloaded / ordered some brochures. Cheers!

posts: 196
3. Re: Visiting Derry from Co. Donegal

The route is not completely characterless ~ it does have its moments of compensation, for example, the Glenshane Pass (A6) is a designated Area of Conservation with gorgeous views across the Sperrin Mountains over to Lough Neagh and the distant Mountains of Mourne (you'll even pass Ireland's highest pub The Ponderosa ;0).....even the M2 as you come into Belfast offers views of Belfast Lough across to the North Down coastline on the left while on your right is Cavehill and Belfast Castle (Cavehill's profile was the inspiration for the sleeping giant in Swift's Gulliver's Travels)...so you do get some breaks from boring motorway.

The M2 and M1 are connected by the Westlink ~ a dual carriageway that takes you straight though the heart of Belfast but you won't have to 'negotiate' Belfast traffic as such....the lanes for the Westlink at the end of the M2 veer to the right and you just keep going straight at the roundabouts without changing lanes and onto the M1. The Westlink is Belfast's most loathed road as at rush hour it thinks it's a carpark but you will not be travelling through at peak times. There are major roadworks ongoing at the Westlink which will slow you down a little but not enough to suggest you take another route. I just think for such a long drive on unfamiliar roads in January you would be safer on the better roads.

Hope this is of help.

posts: 22
reviews: 67
4. Re: Visiting Derry from Co. Donegal

I drive to Derry from Newgrange (and vice-versa) is more like 4hours drive. The roads in northern Ireland are not the massive runways they have in countries like England or the US. IF you are stopping half-way between Derry and Newgrange, you can get a reasonably priced meal in Salleys of Aughnacloy. The signs to Newgrange can be a bit vague and it is possible you will be guided by seeing it in the distance over a hedge. I hope you enjoy your visit, but let me advise you that driving in Ireland - north and south - is quite an ordeal to visitors.

posts: 78
reviews: 125
5. Re: Visiting Derry from Co. Donegal

Thanks Fivego and Swanella,

The suggestions have helped with the planning - we'll consider the possibility of extended our car hire by 1/2 or a full day if we don't get sufficient time at Bru na Boinne on that afternoon.

We live in a rural area in Australia and do a lot of driving (over an hour to work etc) and our roads aren't brilliant - one lane, kangaroos & wallabies (honestly!) on the roads, plus cows, tractors, milk and timber trucks, slow drivers, you name it, so we will take it easy, and be patient on the roads in Ireland, and expect to be flexible with our plans!

So it sounds like, at least 3 hours if we go via Belfast, or at least 4 hours if we go via Aughnacloy.

We'll eat an early breakfast in Derry, and plan to get to Derry early enough the previous day to see some of the sights!

6. Re: Visiting Derry from Co. Donegal

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