Review of Creevy Cottages, County Donegal
> For contact details see the full listing for the Creevy Cottages
The cottages: These are the creation of the Creevy Cooperative, set up by fishermen and their families who used to make a living off Creevy’s pier but, sadly, no longer. Instead, they set about restoring some traditional stone cottages, in order to bring tourism to this remote area of one of Ireland’s most stunning counties. I stayed at Kitty’s House, where the restorative stonework is unmistakeably the work of local craftsmen who know and love their natural resources. Same with the flagstones on the floors. And the huge traditional fireplace, which was roaring to welcome me. All the homes are named after people who once lived there. Kitty has passed on, but with the help of the Creevy Coop, she has left a fine legacy overlooking her now revived pier. Or you could opt for Big Jimmy’s House, who lived in a more remote spot, a couple of kilometres up in the hills, with views of Tullan Strand that haven’t changed since Jimmy’s day.
The comfort: The Creevy style is ‘no fuss’ cottage style furnishings, sofas around the fire, beds with woollen throws, but no longer an outside loo or a bath by the fire, of course. There are spacious, modern ensuite bathrooms, and a lot more space than Kitty or Jimmy would have had to move around. Donegal is not about design. It is about what’s real, what works, and what makes us feel at home. You can let sandy toed toddlers run around here happily, and fishing fathers throw their catch in the sink with pride. Impressively, the cottages were recently awarded Ireland’s Rehab's 'Customer - ABLE Business Excellence Award', making them accessible to all wheelchair users.
The activities: Creevy could never let the fishing legacy disappear altogether, so you can now charter the Creevy Cooperative boat, An Dúanaí Mara for a day. Skippered by one of the local fisherman, you can go sea angling, bird watching, or discover the dramatic Donegal seascapes such as Sliabh League, Europe’s highest sea cliffs.
Cycle on the nearby Kingfisher Cycle Trail, a 370 kms looped trail around the five counties of the North West. The nearby town of Ballyshannon is a stop on the Trail’s extra Atlantic mini-loop. Or just take in Donegal’s dramatic coastal scenery by foot on Creevy’s own Coastal Path, a ten mile stretch created and maintained by Coop members. For example, you can walk to the stunning Rossnowlagh beach one way in an hour and a half . The cottages are also not far from the country’s leading waymarked walking trails, The Donegal Way and The Bluestack Way.
The Green: Creevy is one of the beacon green accommodation providers in Ireland’s Greenbox, a network of green businesses in the North West of the country. It has been awarded the EU Flower Ecolabel, not only for its work in sustaining a small rural community, but also for its commitment to good environmental practices. They water gardens with conserved rainwater, manage recycled waste, and there are compost bins (made out of recycled wood by some of the Coop members) in all gardens. The lightbulbs are energy-saving, and cleaning products bio-degradeable. I particularly loved the lemon juice and vinegar bottles left for visitors, with a note explaining the anti-bacterial and cleaning properties of both.
The Journey: Read greentraveller’s tips on how to travel to Ireland without flying and then take a bus to the town of Ballyshannon. Creevy Coop will arrange to pick up anyone arriving by bus, and take you direct to your chosen cottage. It is approximately a 7km cycle from your cottage into Ballyshannon. If you want to hire bikes when you get there, Creevy canarrange for them to be delivered to your cottage.
Top tip: Go surfing at nearby Blue Flag Rossnowlagh beach, where there are 5kms of white sands. If you are feeling very energetic you can walk there along Creevy Cooperative's own coastal path. You can go for beginner lessons at Finn McCool’s Surf School (€35 for adults and €25 for 8 -16 year olds), wetsuits and surfboards provided. Or they have ‘surf camps’ where the children sign up for the week and do a morning or afternoon of surfing lessons and beach activities.
Verdict: In 1987 Creevy Pier was destroyed by storms. Soon after, three local fishermen perished because they had no safe berthage. It is times like this that a community pulls together and luckily, for visitors, they created something which not only allows us to share their wild and wonderful part of Ireland, but also be part of this strong, committed community. They have put Creevy on the worldwide map of inspired green, locally-run tourism projects, and done its community proud.
For contact details see the full listing for the Creevy Cottages