Ol' Donaghadee, Belfast

posted on: Thursday, 22 August 2013

Our saviour: diddle dee dee Donaghadee

The view from the accommodation I selected in Belfast 

One of the gun-related murals in the area

In my family I am known as the smoother. I do all the travel and accommodation bookings and research so that our holidays are smooth and fuss-free. So on a driving trip around Ireland with my father and sister this week, all accommodation arrangements were left with me. After our stop in Belfast in Northern Ireland, that may never happen again.

One of the political murals on the 'Peace Wall' in Belfast - that is the huge three mile wall with barbed wire that separates the Protestant area from the Catholic area - likens the current situation in Belfast with the Beirut, Israel, Berlin, Baghdad and Nicosia war zones. There are some areas in town that are clearly linked to one side of the ongoing conflict and somehow via AirBNB, which I have had great success with in the past, I managed to book us into a specifically loyalist area. One week after major demonstrations. And looking out onto a razed street. 

Things were looking pretty grim when my father, known for his ability to accept almost any standard of lodging, immediately drew the line. We decided to find somewhere else to stay pronto and headed 30 minutes from Belfast to the east coast of Ireland and there we found Donaghadee. You would never come across this sleepy seaside town, but it's a great find. Peaceful and picturesque. 

Tired and hungry with a new, non-political hotel sorted, we sat down to eat at Pier 36 a non-descript bar across the road from the sea. Not expecting much, I enquired if the fish on the menu was caught across the road. But of course it is and the mackeral is smoked onsite. And it was fresh and smoky. My father had the smoked cod with samphire and a white wine sauce. My sister had the baked monkfish. All very, very, unexpectedly good and accompanied by a well-edited wine list and the highest bar of Irish service.

As the saying goes, with every cloud, there is a silver lining. And while I am not rushing back to our Belfast accommodation, I would certainly recommend a trip to the sea and fish for tea at Donaghadee.

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