Visit Derry Londonderry in 2024

Visit Derry City and the County Londonderry from Finn Valley Cottages. Nestled along the banks of the River Foyle, Derry, also known as Londonderry, is a city that beckons travellers with its captivating blend of history, culture, and modern charm. As tourism in Northern Ireland continues to flourish, Derry Londonderry stands out as a must-visit destination.

Visit Derry Londonderry iconic Peace Bridge
Visit Derry Londonderry iconic Peace Bridge

Derry Londonderry boasts a rich history that unfolds as you wander through its well-preserved city walls, which date back to the 17th century. The iconic Guildhall, a stunning example of neo-Gothic architecture, serves as a gateway to the city’s past. The Tower Museum offers an immersive journey through it’s history, from the Siege of Derry to the Troubles, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the city’s resilience and triumphs.

Visit Derry City Walls

No visit to Derry Londonderry is complete without a stroll along the city walls. The only completely intact walled city in Ireland, the walls offer panoramic views of the cityscape and the picturesque River Foyle. As you walk in the footsteps of history, you’ll encounter historic cannons, bastions, and gates, each telling a story of a bygone era. The Walls are not only a testament to Derry Londonderry’s heritage but also a fantastic vantage point to appreciate the city’s modern transformation and are standing at an impressive 19-20 feet high. The new Siege Museum and Exhibition is a permanent display of the history of the Siege of Londonderry and of the Associated Clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry, including artefacts, video and interactive media.

Londonderry’s Guildhall

Sitting within reach of our famous Walls is one of the City’s most recognisable – and arguably one of the most stunning – landmarks, the Guildhall. It has been in the heart of city life since 1887 and the auburn brick building is the anchor for the buzzing Guildhall Square.

The Guildhall Square Visit Derry
The Guildhall Square Visit Derry

The Guildhall’s most arresting feature is its collection of stunning stained-glass windows. Donated by London Companies, they represent everything from fishmongers to musicians. The Guildhall is home to a special collection of the world-renowned peace accolades awarded to the late John Hume. The collection includes the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize, jointly awarded to John Hume and Sir David Trimble for their role in the Northern Ireland peace process, the Martin Luther King Jnr Non-Violent Prize bestowed in 1999, and the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize, awarded in 2001.

Visit Derry’s Peace Bridge

Just a short walk from the Guildhall and the City’s famous 400+ year-old Walls, the Peace Bridge is a visual treat and a vital stop on any Derry Londonderry and Northern Ireland travel itinerary. The now iconic Peace Bridge is one of the more popular places to visit in Derry. It opened in 2011 and has won many awards since. The bridge connects the old army barracks in Ebrington to the city centre and was intended to end a 400-year-old physical and political gap by bringing the largely unionist east side of Derry Londonderry closer to the largely nationalist west. You can take a wander across it and get a good eyeful of both sides of the city’s ‘skyline’ or you can admire it from afar from either side of the river.

Peace Bridge Visit Derry Londonderry
Peace Bridge Visit Derry Londonderry

Enjoy the culture in Derry City

The Craft Village, nestled within the city walls, is a charming enclave where traditional artisans showcase their skills, offering visitors a chance to purchase unique, handmade treasures. The city has emerged as a vibrant cultural hub, drawing artists, musicians, and creatives from all corners. The Bogside Artists’ murals vividly depict the city’s political and social history, providing powerful visual narratives. Derry Londonderry hosts a myriad of festivals throughout the year, celebrating everything from music and literature to food and film. For more information on what’s on in Derry Londonderry throughout the year view the calendar of events.

The famous Derry Girls

When talking about Derry Londonderry we have to mention the famous Derry Girls, the hit television series created by Lisa McGee, it has taken the world by storm with its unique blend of humour, heart, and historical backdrop. Set in the city of Derry Londonderry, Northern Ireland, during the politically tumultuous 1990s, the show follows a group of teenage friends as they navigate the challenges of adolescence amid the backdrop of The Troubles. With its witty dialogue, lovable characters, and clever storytelling, Derry Girls has become a cultural phenomenon.

Visit Derry Girls Mural
Visit Derry Girls Mural

Troubled Past

One of the standout features of Derry Girls is its setting against the backdrop of Northern Ireland’s troubled past. The show seamlessly weaves the political and social climate of the time into the characters’ lives, providing viewers with a unique perspective on the challenges faced by the people of Derry Londonderry. The juxtaposition of typical teenage experiences with the tension of The Troubles creates a compelling narrative that keeps audiences both entertained and emotionally invested.

Local humour and remarkable characters

The heart of Derry Girls lies in its brilliantly crafted characters. From the sarcastic and quick-witted Erin to the eccentric and free-spirited Orla, each character brings something special to the group dynamic. The relationships and interactions between the characters feel authentic and relatable, capturing the essence of teenage friendships. Erin’s cousin, James, adds an interesting dynamic as ‘the wee English fella’ navigating the complexities of Derry Londonderry during a politically charged time.

The show’s humour is a standout element that has resonated with audiences worldwide. The sharp, witty dialogue and hilarious situations such as ‘Uncle Colm’s break in story, ‘the weeping statue’ and ‘cleaning the chippy’ the characters find themselves in providing a light-hearted approach to the challenges they face. Derry Girls masterfully balances humour with moments of sincerity, creating a viewing experience that is both entertaining and emotionally resonant.

Derry Girls stands as a testament to the power of storytelling that combines humour, heart, and historical context. Its unique blend of elements has captured the hearts of viewers worldwide, making it a standout in the world of television. As we eagerly await future seasons, the impact of Derry Girls on popular culture and its ability to shed light on Northern Ireland’s history will undoubtedly leave a lasting legacy. There is an exhibition of Derry Girls in the Tower Museum where costumes, set displays and props are all on show. So it is an interesting way to spend an afternoon if you are a fan of the show.

The Derry Girls Experience at the Tower Museum, Visit Derry Londonderry The Quinns Homestead
The Derry Girls Experience at the Tower Museum, Visit Derry Londonderry The Quinns Homestead

Food and Drink

Visit Derry Londonderry’s culinary scene reflects the city’s diverse influences and commitment to local ingredients. From traditional Irish pubs serving hearty stews to fine dining and award winning establishments offering modern twists on classic dishes, it caters to every palate. Local food tours have tapped into the hit Channel 4 show and developed a fun new Derry Girls Food Tour. Why not take a tour of The Walled City Brewery and sample some of their signature brews which are created on site. To learn more about how local produce and great places to eat visit the Legenderry Food Network.

Walled City Brewery Visit Derry
Walled City Brewery Visit Derry

The city’s allure lies in its ability to seamlessly blend the old and the new, the historical and the contemporary. Whether you’re fascinated by centuries-old stories etched in stone or eager to immerse yourself in a thriving cultural scene, the city invites you to embark on a journey that will leave you enchanted and inspired. As tourism in this Northern Irish gem continues to grow, there has never been a better time to explore the rich tapestry of Derry Londonderry.

Derry stands out as an irresistible destination for travellers seeking a unique blend of history, resilience, and vibrant culture. The city’s rich tapestry, woven with tales of bygone eras and contemporary triumphs, invites visitors to explore its storied streets with the same curiosity that made Derry Girls a global sensation. The welcoming spirit of the locals, coupled with the city’s picturesque landscapes and thriving culinary scene, creates an experience that goes beyond the ordinary tourist destination. Londonderry, with its historic landmarks, cultural resilience, and warm-hearted community, promises an unforgettable journey that leaves every traveller with a deeper understanding of Northern Ireland’s past and an enduring connection to the indomitable spirit of this captivating city. Come and discover Derry Londonderry, where history meets hospitality, and every corner tells a tale waiting to be embraced.

Book your stay at Finn Valley Cottages

Visit Derry Londonderry whilst you stay at Finn Valley Cottages which is less than 30 minutes drive door to door to the Peace Bridge. The cottages’ cozy charm and modern amenities ensure a comfortable stay, making it an ideal base for exploring the vibrant Derry Girls exhibition and local landmarks in the City of Derry Londonderry. This combination of rustic tranquillity and urban exploration creates a well-rounded and memorable experience for those seeking the perfect balance between relaxation and cultural immersion in Ireland. Enjoy world class hospitality at Finn Valley Cottages, “Great stay as always at Finn Valley Cottages, myself and a group of friends always choose this wonderful location for our annual fishing weekend . Anne provides the very best service and facilities, from the moment you arrive nothing is ever too much trouble. Every cottage is of the highest quality and everything you need for a great stay. The only negative is having to leave . Already looking forward to next year’s stay.” some recent feedback we have received.

Top 5 Family Attractions in the North West

Top 5 family attractions for adventure and fun with all the family. Finn Valley Cottages provides ideal accommodation for families visiting the North West of Ireland. Here are 5 family attractions loved by our guests.

Oakfield Park

Oakfield Demesne, Raphoe, F93 XY1R Donegal


Telephone: (+353) 074 9173922

Email: [email protected]

Short drive of 20 mins from Finn Valley Cottages

Up to date admission information & opening times can be found on their website above

Oakfield Park in Oakfield Demesne was built in 1739 for the Dean of Raphoe. It  is a family paradise nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes and lush greenery. The 100 acre estate includes an original walled garden and traditional kitchen garden, overlooking a lush landscape of parklands, wildflower meadows and mature woodlands toward the distant Croaghan Mountain. This enchanting destination offers an array of delightful experiences that will captivate the hearts of both young and old. As you step into Oakfield Park, you’ll be mesmerized by the stunning, manicured gardens that stretch as far as the eye can see. The diverse flora and fauna create a magical wonderland, perfect for leisurely strolls and picnics.

Climb aboard the Difflin Lake Railway that chugs its way through the park, taking you on an exciting adventure through the heart of nature. This delightful train ride is a favourite among children and parents alike, offering scenic views of the park’s most scenic spots and its Irelands longest miniature railway track at over 4.5km. Trains regularly run each day the park is open and the trip takes around 15 minutes to complete.  Nature lovers will be thrilled to spot the abundant wildlife that calls Oakfield Park home. Keep an eye out for swans, ducks squirrels, rabbits, and a variety of bird species, adding to the park’s natural charm.

Let your imagination run wild as you follow the enchanting Fairy Trail. Discover hidden fairy houses and whimsical sculptures tucked away among the trees, creating a sense of wonder and excitement for the little ones. Write your wish and hang it on the tree so see it come true.

Test your navigation skills in the delightful hedge maze, an activity that will challenge and entertain kids and parents alike. Make your way to the centre where you will find a 10 metre tall brick tower and experience 880 plants on your way through the 1 km of pathway.  The Walled Garden is another highlight, displaying a vibrant array of flowers and plants, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts.

Oakfield Park boasts a well-maintained playground, including swings, slide, tunnel and train ensuring that children have a safe and fun place to play. There are numerous picnic areas so that you can sit down and enjoy your picnic or visit Buffers Restaurant and enjoy something from their delicious menu. Modern amenities like clean restrooms and accessible pathways ensure that families have a comfortable experience.

Throughout the year, Oakfield Park hosts a range of family activities, seasonal events and festivals that are tailored to families. From Easter egg hunts and summer festivals to Halloween spooky trails and the Santa Express there’s always something exciting happening.

Lurgybrack Fun Farm  

Cullion Road, Lurgybrack, Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Telephone: (+353) 074 9122683

Email: [email protected]

Approximately 35 minutes from Finn Valley Cottages

Up to date admission information & opening times can be found on their website above

Lurgybrack Farm is situated in a picturesque the farm’s location encourages a sense of tranquility, making it an idyllic family attraction for parents and kids seeking a break from the everyday routine. The farm is a treasure trove of activities for visitors of all ages. Children will be captivated by the joyful bleating of the resident sheep, the friendly clucks of the chickens, and the adorable antics of the playful goats. Families can participate in daily feeding sessions, where little ones can experience the joys of connecting with farm animals firsthand.

Pony rides are another highlight that kids will adore, these gentle and friendly ponies take children on delightful journeys around the farm, creating magical moments that they will cherish forever.

Lurgybrack Farm offers a myriad of scenic nature trails waiting to be explored. Families can embark on leisurely walks, immersing themselves in the stunning beauty of the landscape. Whether it’s spotting colourful wildflowers, observing the abundant birdlife, or simply enjoying the fresh country air.

Family Activities Outside play park at Lurgybrack Open Farm Letterkenny
Outside play park at Lurgybrack Open Farm Letterkenny

Families are welcome to bring a packed lunch and use the designated picnic areas which provide the perfect viewing spot to keep an eye on your little ones. For the little adventurers, the farm boasts well-equipped playgrounds where kids can climb, swing, and slide to their hearts’ content. These safe and exciting play areas ensure endless fun for children, allowing parents to relax and enjoy the serenity of the countryside. For the thrill seekers in your family they can experience the zipline, tube slide or even the barrel train that is scheduled throughout the day.

Family Attraction Indoor play area at Lurgybrack Open Farm, Letterkenny
Indoor play area at Lurgybrack Open Farm, Letterkenny

At Lurgybrack Farm, learning is an integral part of the experience. Family activities and educational workshops are organised, enabling families to gain insights into sustainable farming practices, animal care, and the wonders of nature. These workshops foster a deep appreciation for the environment and the importance of responsible farming.

Before leaving, families can visit the charming on-site farm shop. Here, you can find an assortment of locally sourced products, including fresh produce, artisanal crafts, and delightful farm souvenirs. Taking home a piece of Lurgybrack Farm allows families to reminisce about their treasured experiences and support the local community.

Gortin Glen Forest Park

Glen Park Road, Gortin, County Tyrone, BT79 7SU


Tel+44 (0) 300 303 17777

Admission is Free & opening times can be found on their website

30 minute drive from Finn Valley Cottages

Gortin Glen Forest Park, located 6 miles from Omagh, is an outdoor family attraction with a destination play park, trim trail, additional parking,  Mountain Bike Trails, walking trails, horse trails, café and toilet facilities.

Gortin Glen is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty. The glens encompass picturesque valleys, lush woodlands, and cascading waterfalls that captivate the senses. Exploring the glens as a family provides a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourselves in nature’s wonders. Children will be in awe of the enchanting forest trails, while parents can appreciate the tranquility and serene vistas that surround them. The Forest Park can also be explored via a five-mile scenic drive which has a number of vista parks that vehicles can pull in to enjoy the magnificent scenery.

The glens are crisscrossed with family-friendly hiking trails, perfect for adventurers of all skill levels. Whether you’re looking for a short, leisurely stroll or a more challenging hike, Gortin Glens has options to suit every family member. There are 5 trails of varying length and they are well-maintained and offer informative signposts along the way, making it easy for kids to engage with the environment and learn about the local flora and fauna.

Family Attractions Gortin Glen Walking Trails, Omagh
Gortin Glen Walking Trails, Omagh

Family time at is made even more special with designated picnic areas. Pack a delicious lunch, find a cozy spot, and enjoy a relaxing meal surrounded by the sounds of nature. These picturesque picnic spots offer the perfect opportunity to bond, play games, and share stories while recharging amidst the beauty of the outdoors. Children’s happiness is of paramount importance and to ensure they have a fantastic time, the park features well-equipped playgrounds.

Here, kids can climb, swing, and slide to their hearts’ content, making new friends and burning off energy in a safe and enjoyable environment. Bries Barista is a coffee shop on site where you can enjoy na hot/cold beverage, sandwich or sweet treat to recharge and allow you to explore the park for longer. There are toilets and also a barbecue area for families to plan a fun get together.

Gortin Glens’ visitor centre provides a wealth of information about the area’s history, geology, and wildlife. Families can engage in interactive exhibits and educational programs that foster an understanding and appreciation of the natural world. Learning becomes an adventure at Gortin Glens, leaving young minds curious and inspired. For wildlife enthusiasts, Gortin Glens offers exciting opportunities to spot local animals and birdlife. From squirrels and rabbits to various bird species, each family member can delight in observing these creatures in their natural habitat. Don’t forget to bring binoculars and a camera to capture those unforgettable moments.

Cycling is a popular activity at the Forest Park, and families can rent bicycles for the day. The dedicated cycling routes provide a chance to explore more of the area’s beauty and cover greater distances together, creating an unforgettable experience for everyone. Campbase provide visitors the opportunity to hire bikes and explore what the forest park has to offer from a different perspective.

Family Attractions Gortin Glen Forest Park Omagh
Family Attractions Gortin Glen Forest Park Omagh

Gortin Glen Forest Park is a place where families can unwind, reconnect with nature, and enjoy quality time together. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, quiet moments in nature, or educational opportunities for the kids, it offers an unforgettable family-friendly experience that will leave you with cherished memories for years to come.

Ulster American Folk Park

2 Mellon Rd, Omagh BT78 5QU


Telephone: (+44) 028 8224 3292

Email: [email protected]

Up to date admission information & opening times can be found on their website above

25 minute drive from Finn Valley Cottages

Perfect family attraction for all ages

The Ulster American Folk Park, provides an enchanting journey through time that promises an unforgettable experience for families. This living history museum bridges the gap between continents and generations, offering a unique adventure for all ages.

Step back in time and immerse yourselves in the captivating story of emigration, where you’ll walk in the footsteps of brave souls who left their homeland for a new life in America. The park showcases authentic reconstructed buildings, bringing to life the sights, sounds, and emotions of the 18th and 19th-century emigrant experience.

Immerse yourself in ancient family activities

Discover the traditions and customs of the Ulster pioneers as you explore their meticulously recreated rural village. Engage with costumed interpreters, who will share tales of courage, resilience, and the spirit of adventure that defined these intrepid settlers.

Embark on a transatlantic voyage, boarding a full-scale ship replica, and envision the challenges and hopes that accompanied these daring emigrants on their quest for a better life. Feel the excitement build as you step foot into the New World, exploring the American homesteads and bustling streets of the past.

Ulster American Folk Park Omagh Co master 1
Ulster American Folk Park. 2 Mellon Rd. Omagh BT78 5QU. Uk

For the little ones, engaging activities and interactive exhibits ensure a day filled with entertainment and education. They can try on period costumes, participate in traditional crafts, and even enjoy delicious period treats!

Family Attractions Ulster American Folk Park

Ulster American Folk Park promises a truly unique family outing, where history comes alive, and lessons of courage, unity, and determination are interwoven into an enjoyable and enriching experience. Perfect for picnics, cafe available and accessible toilets on site.

Limitless Adventure Centre

71 Carrowclare Road, Limivady BT49 9EB


Telephone: 028 777 22235

Email: [email protected]

Up to date admission information & opening times can be found on their website above

1 hour 10 minutes drive from Finn Valley Cottages

Family activities for adventurous teenagers

The Limitless Adventure Centre is a thrilling haven for adventurers of all ages, offering a wide array of exhilarating activities and experiences under one roof. This is a winner for teenagers where they can really embrace the giant spirit.

Upon entering the Centre, you’ll be greeted by an atmosphere buzzing with excitement and anticipation. The centre boasts an expansive indoor/outdoor adventure park filled with a variety of heart-pounding activities that cater to different interests and skill levels such as laser tag, hovercrafting, football golf, powerturn buggies and target archery.

The perfect destination for a special occasion or a fun, family day out. Whether you’ve decided it’s time to away from the screens and put a little fun back into family life, or you’re looking for a fun day out for a special occasion, Limitless NI have an incredible range of adventure activities that are perfect for family-bonding and memory-making.

Family Activities at Limitless

Whether you’re looking to take on your family members in high-tempo activities such as Powerturn Buggies and Hovercrafting, you’re interested in more leisurely pursuits such as Football Golf, or Laser Tag, or you’re looking to challenge your family members in strategic games that involve puzzles and challenges, we have the perfect activities to suit your family.


Family Attractions Hovercraft at Limitless Adventure Centre

As Northern Ireland’s only Hovercrafting Adventure Centre, we can assure you that flying one of our Snapper Hovercrafts (or Whippersnapper’s in the case of younger visitors) is an exhilarating adventure experience that you’ll never forget! Hovering 30cm over the ground as you fly into corners over land and water tracks at speeds of 30+ mph, you’ll be battling to keep control of your machine, using just a handlebar for a steering wheel and your body weight for balance!

Driving experience

If you love driving experiences but haven’t tried their Powerturn Buggies yet, you need to. Forget karting, their twin-seat roll-cage buggies offer a high-adrenaline driving experience, where you and your co-pilot battle to control the buggy, using two separate levers. After a quick safety talk and practice run, you’ll head out onto our purpose-built Powerturn Buggy track to put your driving skills to the test. 

Family Activities Powerbuggy in action at Limitless Adventure Centre
Powerbuggy in action at Limitless Adventure Centre

Family attractions near Finn Valley

There are so any fun family activities that can be explored near Finn Valley Cottages. The above are just 5 examples for you to explore during your stay with us. There is something for everyone from walking, playparks, picnics, history, beautiful gardens, trains and adrenaline pumping activities. You will be spoilt for choice and wonderful memories will be made with us.

Booking Information

For more information on booking your next family holiday at Finn Valley Cottages. Call 07720 452161 or email [email protected] or book now

Green Woodworking – Best Digital Detox for 2023

In our technological age, many of our guests love stepping back to a simpler time, free from modern worries. Green woodworking is the perfect chance to slow down, and experience the sense of achievement which comes from making something with your own two hands.

Although many of us spend our days looking at screens, master craftspeople in Ireland still work with ancient techniques, creating unique and timeless pieces, from sustainable materials.

We’re proud to partner with Tom Campbell, to offer our guests a range of courses on green woodworking. From beginner taster session, to in-depth guidance for experienced woodworkers, Tom has helped countless students gain an insight into his craft.

Here’s everything you need to know about green working.

What is Green Woodworking?

Green woodworking takes its name from the fact that it involves working with fresh, unseasoned timber, as opposed to the heavily dried and processed wood which is used in modern furniture making.

Undried wood is much softer, making it considerably easier to work with using hand tools, such as axes, blades and chisels. This means that every green woodworking piece is entirely unique, while also ensuring that the whole process is as environmentally friendly as possible.

Although green woodworking has been used around the world for thousands of years, it has boomed in popularity in recent years, as people seek out ways to reconnect with their roots, and move away from disposable, mass-produced possessions.

What is Involved in Green Woodworking?

Green woodworking is a broad term, and the techniques can be used to make a wider range of different items. No matter what your project is, the same ancient tools and techniques are used throughout.

Here are the four key steps to any green woodworking project.

Preparing the Wood

The first step of any green woodworking project is to prepare your timber for shaping. Since you’ll be working with recently felled wood, this means beginning with a log, and getting it ready for woodturning.

The logs are quartered, by splitting them in half, and then doing the same with each of these pieces, using a traditional hand axe.

As the raw wood is split along its own natural grain, this results in a much stronger piece of wood than the log in its natural form. This means that recently felled timber can be used for burden-carrying furniture, like chairs and tables, without the need for extensive treatments, or incurring the carbon footprint of importing foreign materials.

Green woodworking splitting wood with axe

Using a Shaving Horse

The next step is to transform the quartered logs into a round shape, ready to be worked on. Here, the wood is clamped into a traditional device, known as a shaping horse. The wood is held in place using pressure from the operator’s feet on the shaving horse’s pedals.

The rough edges are first removed from the quartered logs using a hand axe, before the bulk of the material is removed using a two-handed blade known as an ‘adze’, before fine adjustments are made with a spokeshave.

Throughout the shaping process, the wood is manually turned, by releasing pressure on the shaping horse, freeing the piece up to move around. Once the wood is sufficiently rounded off, it can be moved to the pole lathe.

Green woodworking shaping horse and adze

Using a Pole Lathe

A pole lathe is an essential tool in green woodworking. Unlike modern lathes, a pole lathe is unpowered, using pedals to turn the wood as it is worked upon. Simply operate the pedals, as you would on an old-fashioned sewing machine to turn the piece as you work.

This makes it much easier to control the speed of the lather, compared to modern, motor powered machines.

Here, you can begin to create the final shape of your green woodworking project. Simply hold a chisel against the wood as it turns, to begin creating different shapes and ornamentation.

The pole lathe itself is made from freshly cut timber, creating a springy and direct feel. This makes the machine much easier to control. The lack of the motor also makes the pole lathe one of the most environmentally friendly woodworking tools around.

Green woodworking pole lathe

Ancient Joinery Techniques

Over the centuries, green woodworking has been used to create tight and durable bonds between different pieces of wood, without the need for adhesives or other fasteners, like screws and nails.

For example, when making chairs and tables with green woodworking, the majority of joints are created using a round mortise and tenon. A round hole is cut into the base of the piece, and a corresponding shape at the top of each leg is inserted into this.

When working with kiln dried timber, this would typically need to be reinforced with wood glue.

Since green woodworking materials are largely undried, this is not necessary here. Instead, the insert piece is dried, either naturally or in a kiln. The dried tenon is then inserted into the mortise of the furniture base, which has not been dried.

As this wood dries naturally, the mortise dries around the tenon, creating a tight bond, without the need for adhesive.

This technique has been used for centuries, and is still adopted by Amish communities in the USA and Canada.

What Can You Make with Green Woodworking?

Green woodworking techniques can be used to make a wide variety of items. From simple bowls, spoons and ornaments, to larger pieces, like chairs, tables and pedestals. The only limits are your imagination, and the time you’d like to spend on your project.

You can even learn how to make your own woodworking tools, including shaping horses and pole lathes, using traditional hand tools and techniques. 

Whether you simply want to try your hand at using ancient woodworking techniques, or you have a specific project in mind, green woodworking is the perfect way to create unique, sustainable and durable furniture, ornaments and gifts.

Green woodworking projects on table.

Green Woodworking with Finn Valley Cottages

At Finn Valley Cottages, we’re proud to have partnered with Tom Campbell to offer green woodworking experiences to our guests. In fact, it’s one of the most popular things to do at Finn Valley Cottages.

No matter their background or experience with woodworking, our guests always come away with a new insight and sense of accomplishment.

As a master of his craft, Tom Campbell is able to tailor each session to the exact goals and experience of his students. Whether you’d like a simple taster, or you’d like to build your own tools and work on a larger project, Tom offers a range of different packages.

Even better, guests at Finn Valley Cottages can enjoy a 10% discount on green woodworking courses. Use your stay in our scenic landscape to reconnect with your roots and learn a new skill.

If you’d like to learn more about our green woodworking packages, contact Finn Valley Cottages today.

Embrace a Giant Spirit Logo

Woodturning for Beginners with Finn Valley Cottages

At Finn Valley Cottages, we love nothing more than providing unique experiences for our guests. Tom Campbell’s woodturning for beginners experience is a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike.

Visitors flock to our area to escape the busy stresses of modern life, and enjoy a slower pace, in the beautiful open countryside. Woodturning is the ideal, meditative activity to relax, and gain a new perspective on the world around you.

You’ll learn new skills, enjoy time working with your hands, and get a chance to try out one of the oldest crafts in the world, all under the expert eye of master woodturner, Tom.

Here’s why we think woodturning for beginners is the perfect activity for Finn Valley guests.

What is Woodturning?

Woodturning is the craft of creating furniture, ornaments and other objects using hand tools and a lathe. Unlike other woodworking methods, hand tools are held still, while the lathe spins the wood, creating an even and symmetrical effect.

As one of the oldest crafts in the world, woodturning dates back thousands of years. On our woodturning for beginners experience, you’ll have the chance to try your hand at the same traditional techniques that locals have used to create furniture and tools for centuries.

It’s also one of the most accessible forms of woodworking, and one of the easiest to pick up. 

Unlike modern methods, using traditional hand tools and a manual pole lathe is incredibly safe. Since you work slowly, there is little risk of injury, or damaging your project and having to start over.

This makes woodturning for beginners ideal for anyone who’d like to try their hand at woodwork, even if they have no previous experience.

Tom Campbell only works with recently felled, sustainable woods. This means that his woodturning experiences are highly sustainable, while also utilising soft woods which are easy for beginners to work with.

Things to do woodturning for beginners

Who Can Try Woodturning for beginners?

Our woodturning for beginners experience is popular with guests of all ages, from a variety of backgrounds. No prior experience or knowledge is needed, with Tom giving all guests a flavour of the traditional methods used in woodturning.

The woodturning for beginners experience is particularly popular with history buffs, professionals who want to try a more hands-on craft, and international guests who’d like to experience traditional Irish country crafts.

As a slow and meditative process, woodturning is an excellent option for anyone who wants to escape the fast past of modern life, and harken back to a simpler time. Against the backdrop of the Irish countryside, our guests find woodturning to be highly relaxing and therapeutic.

What Can I Make with Woodturning?

Over the centuries, woodturning has been used to make a wide variety of items, including furniture, ornaments, plates and bowls, and even parts for viking long ships. As a master craftsman, Tom’s work is highly sought after, and furnishes country houses around Ireland.

What you can make depends on how many sessions you’d like to book with Tom. Many of our guests choose two to three full-day sessions, allowing them to construct their own sawhorse and pole lathe, before working on their projects.

Others prefer to come for a shorter half-day taster session, where they’ll get to experience the key techniques involved in green woodturning.

As a true master woodturner, Tom offers courses for all abilities and levels of expertise. Whether you’re an experienced woodturner, or you’d simply like to try your hand at a new craft, you’ll find working with Tom an incredibly rewarding experience.

4 Reasons to Try Woodturning for Beginners

Woodturning is by far one of the most popular activities for guests at Finn Valley Cottages. Of course, everyone is different, and guests choose woodturning for a wide variety of reasons.

Some have a deep interest in local history, or prior experience of different woodworking methods. Others simply want to try their hand at a methodical and relaxing outdoor activity. 

Here are four incredible reasons to book a woodturning for beginners experience during your stay with us.

Enjoy a Sense of Achievement

These days, not everyone gets to have the experience of creating something with their own two hands. The modern age has brought many advantages, but nothing can beat the sense of joy which comes from carving something out of wood with hand tools and ancient techniques.

Many children today have never had this privilege. Getting the chance to build something from scratch can give children and young people an enormous sense of accomplishment, which helps to build their self-confidence.

Who knows, Tom’s experience might even be the beginning of a life-long love of woodturning.

Experience Local Heritage

Our guests also love the chance to reconnect with their heritage, and experience life from a different age. With over 40 years of experience of his craft, Tom is the perfect guide to the rich heritage of local woodturning in the North-West region.

Generations have used the same techniques to create vital wares, including furniture and tools. We’re proud to give our guests an opportunity to take part in this rich local heritage, and gain a better understanding of local life over the centuries.

Spend Time in the Great Outdoors

We’re blessed to be based in one of the most scenic and tranquil locations in the world. The rolling hills, forests and streams of counties Donegal and Derry are famed around the world for their natural beauty.

A woodturning experience is the perfect opportunity to get into the outdoors, and work directly with locally sourced, natural materials. You’ll love getting the time to unwind and enjoy the local landscape, while you work.

woodturning for beginners example image

10% Discount for Finn Valley Guests

Best of all, we have developed a great relationship with Tom over the years.

Based just a few minutes drive from us, outside the town of Sion Mills, he’s practically our neighbour. This means that guests at Finn Valley Cottages can enjoy a 10% discount on his woodturning experiences.

We’re committed to supporting the local economy, by working with other like minded tourism businesses. Speak to our proprietor, Ann, or contact us today to find out more about what to do during your stay at Finn Valley Cottages.

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Our Peaceful Accessible Accommodation at Strule Cottage

Nestled on the Irish border, Strule Cottage is the perfect accessible accommodation for respite and relaxation. Ideally located close to Donegal, Strabane and Derry, it’s popular as a destination in its own right, or as a base to explore the local area.

The scenic Irish countryside is a world away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Strule Cottage boasts views over the rolling hills and surrounding countryside, creating a peaceful atmosphere to unwind and escape from daily stresses.

With easy access to nearby towns, villages, streams and forests, Strule Cottage is a haven for guests with mobility issues, seeking to take a break and escape to the peace of the countryside.

We’ve designed Strule Cottage specially to be enjoyed by guests with mobility issues. 

With additional indoor space, easy access, and a range of dedicated accessible accommodation facilities, we’re committed to offer the most welcoming and comfortable experience to all of our guests.

Where is Strule Cottage?

Strule Cottage is located just a few minutes drive from the village of Clady, on the Irish border. It is also within easy reach of Strabane, Derry and Letterkenny, making it the ideal hub to explore Donegal and the North-West.

For visitors from further afield, our cottage can be reached from Belfast International airport in around one and a half hours.

There are also countless international tourist attractions right on the doorstep of Strule Cottage, including natural beauty spots, historic homes, museums and thriving shopping towns.

Our modern and luxurious accessible accommodation is your gateway to everything that the region has to offer, no matter your taste.

The cottage itself features a private patio and outdoor area, which provide a tranquil space to enjoy the sights and sounds of the surrounding countryside, along with outdoor cooking, barbeque and covered drying facilities.

Strule Cottage accessible accommodation exterior

Our Premium Accessible Accommodation

At Finn Valley Cottages, our mission is to help everyone enjoy a peaceful rural retreat, no matter who they are. Strule Cottage provides luxuriant accessible accommodation, with all of the facilities you need to make your break as enjoyable as possible.

Throughout the cottage, you’ll find ample space to move around in a wheelchair, on a zimmer frame, or using other mobility aids. The cottage is built on a single story, with an open-plan kitchen, living and dining space.

Strule Cottage can accommodate up to six guests, with three en-suite double and twin rooms, making it the ideal choice for families and groups, or guests who require additional space for carers.

We’ve also added a wide range of modern facilities for guests with mobility issues. These include:

XL Wet Room

We’ve installed an extra large and accessible wet room in Strule Cottage, for the comfort and convenience of guests with mobility needs, allowing them to bathe in comfort and dignity.

There is space inside for one guest, along with up to two carers or helpers.

Like the rest of Strule Cottage, the wet room is fully accessible for wheelchair users, or guests using other mobility aids. Our wet room is also well-lit, and features modern fixtures, to provide a luxurious and relaxing environment for all of our guests.

Accessible Bathing

We can also offer additional accessibility aids for all of our guests at Strule Cottage. A shower stool can be provided on request for the comfort of guests who have difficulty standing for longer periods, or who are at risk of falling.

Our multiple en-suite bathrooms and ground floor layout are also ideal for guests who need quick and easy access to the washroom, both during the night and day.

Access for Guests with Mobility Issues

Access to Strule Cottage is easy for guests of all levels of mobility. We offer a large free parking space, which is suitable for larger vehicles, or those which have been modified for passengers with limited mobility.

The front entrance to our accessible accommodation features a gentle paved walkway, free from obstructions, obstacles and trip hazards. Our large french doors open onto your private patio, which can be shaded from the sun during the summer months.

Comfort During Your Stay

Guests at Strule Cottage love nothing more than to curl up indoors with our wood burning stove and panoramic views of the nearby Donegal hills. The living area features extensive natural light, and a range of modern and comfortable facilities including two leather reclining settees and free WiFi.

The kitchen is equipped with a high standard of fittings, making it ideal for preparing a family meal. The Cottage also features an on-site utility room, with facilities for washing and drying.

All guests are also provided with an information pack, containing details on how to access key services during their stay, including contacting a local doctor.

Activities at Strule Cottage

In addition to luxurious accessible accommodation, Strule Cottage offers a range of activities and facilities which are suitable for all guests.You’ll enjoy access to our on-site games room, complete with a pool table, and a range of toys which are suitable for children of all ages.

Finn Valley Cottages is a tranquil setting for families and friends to spend quality time together.

We offer ample outdoor space for children and adults alike to play and explore. In the evening, our guests love to dine outdoors in a truly majestic setting. Speak to your host, Ann, and find out the best places to source local produce for your BBQ or banquet.

Things to do near accessible accommodation at Strule Cottage

Accessible Things to Do Nearby

Despite our quaint and peaceful setting, we’re lucky to have a variety of world-class accessible tourist attractions right on our doorstep. Many of our guests choose to explore the nearby North Coast and Wild Atlantic car, for some of the most scenic drives on earth.

We’re situated close to numerous National Trust properties, natural beauty spots, and locations of historical interest, including Mount Stewart and Florence Court. 

The Giant’s Causeway is just over an hour away by road, and offers wheelchair friendly shuttle service from the visitor centre to the Causeway itself.

There are also countless accessible pubs, restaurants and cafes in the nearby towns and villages, with Donegal Town, Castlederg and Ballybofey being particular favourites with international guests.

To find out more about planning a trip to Strule Cottage, contact us today, or book now to start your adventure.

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The Perfect Accommodation for Professionals and Tradespeople

In the internet age, many people are choosing to escape large cities, and work remotely in the countryside. Our luxurious accommodation for professionals offers the perfect combination of rural tranquillity and modern connectivity.

Our cottages are popular with a variety of business professionals, including managers, IT workers, tradespeople, construction workers, artists, and even rally drivers and motorbike enthusiasts. 

Whether you need a base for a project in the North-West, or somewhere restful to focus on your work, look no further.

Each of our modern cottages can accommodate between two and eight guests, with ample space for work, storage and relaxation. We provide all of the modern conveniences, with a rural twist, ensuring that your stay with us is as comfortable and productive as possible.

Where are Finn Valley Cottages Located?

Finn Valley Cottages are located outside the Village of Clady, just minutes from the Irish border. The site also offers easy access to Strabane, Derry, Londonderry, Lifford, Stranorlar, Ballybofey, Letterkenny and Donegal Town by road.

This makes Finn Valley ideal for guests who need to commute to nearby towns during their stay.

Our accommodation for professionals is located in the heart of the local hills and countryside. The secure site offers astounding views over the local landscape, giving you the perfect chance to relax and reflect after a productive day of work.

accommodation for professionals at Finn Valley External

Who is Finn Valley Cottage Suitable For?

Our cottages are popular with all kinds of people. From high-level managers who need space and quiet to finalise major projects, to groups of builders and other tradespeople who need accommodation close to work sites, our accommodation is popular with a variety of professionals.

Of course, although we offer accommodation for professionals, it’s not all work at Finn Valley Cottages.

We’re also a popular destination for corporate trips, team building events and other retreats. Offering private luxury accommodation, with easy access to a range of world-class golf courses and other outdoor facilities, Finn Valley is the perfect choice for a corporate retreat.

Recently, we’ve also had a number of guests who’ve opted to take a ‘working holiday’. Over the course of lockdown, many remote workers have struggled with working from home in their bedrooms or at their kitchen tables.

These workers come to Finn Valley Cottages for a change of scenery while they work. Many of them even bring their families along to enjoy the peace and quiet of the Irish countryside.

Facilities for Remote Workers

At our luxury accommodation for professionals, you’ll enjoy all the modern amenities you need to work on your daily tasks. All of our cottages feature speedy and reliable internet, which is ideal for working on complex projects, or taking Zoom calls.

Unlike many rural destinations, we’re also lucky to have strong telephone signal from seven different network providers at our site.

Each of the cottages is appointed in a clean, modern yet timeless decor, with white walls, light woods and ample natural light. Every room is clutter-free, creating the perfect space for focus and deep work.

Each of our cottages also features a large, open-plan kitchen, living and dining space, giving multiple options for setting up your home office during your stay.

Facilities for Tradespeople

We also offer the ideal accommodation for tradespeople working in towns and cities in the North-West. With ample space for large and small groups alike, we offer comfort, security and luxury to our trade guests.

During a project, tradespeople work with a variety of expensive specialist equipment. Our site is completely secured, with extensive CCTV coverage of the entire grounds to ensure maximum security. Our on-site games room can also be used as secure indoor storage for valuable equipment.

Alternative accommodation providers in the region normally only offer on-street parking, and don’t have enough indoor space to store goods in the property itself. This forces tradespeople to leave equipment in their vans overnight. We give all customers complete peace of mind during their stay.

As such, Finn Valley Cottages is the preferred accommodation option for any professional in the North-West.

Our site also offers outside washing and drying facilities, for when you return from a building site.

Parking at Finn Valley Cottages

During your stay at our luxury accommodation for professionals, you’ll enjoy extensive, private and secure parking. Our site is fully gated, with CCTV coverage of all outside areas. This is perfect for domestic and commercial vehicles alike.

With four different cottages on the site, we offer extensive parking for numerous vehicles. 

We can also accommodate more specialist vehicles. In the past, our guests have used the yard to store vans, articulated lorries, and specialist construction vehicles, with minimal difficulty.

Guests at Finn Valley Cottage have also taken advantage of our spacious games room to dry-store rally cars during the Donegal Rally. No request is too large or small for your host, Anne.

Relaxation and Leisure at our Accommodation for Professionals

Of course, people don’t just visit Finn Valley Cottages for work. Guests from around the world flock to our site, as one of the premier destinations in Ireland for rest, relaxation, and outdoor activities.

Here are some of the most popular things to do in and around Finn Valley Cottages.

Things to Do at Finn Valley Cottages

Our site is a scenic haven away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. After a long day of work, it’s the ideal place to rest and recuperate. Each cottage features its own private outdoor seating area, to enjoy the views of Tyrone and Donegal.

Our guests love nothing more than spending the summer evenings barbecuing in the stunning Irish countryside, or cosying up beside our woodburning stoves in the winter nights.

golf near accommodation for professionals at Finn Valley

Attractions Near Our Accommodation for Professionals

We’re lucky to have a number of world-class tourist attractions right on our doorstep. From the pubs and restaurants of the nearby towns, to internationally famous sites, like the Giant’s Causeway, there’s no shortage of things to do during your stay.

For corporate groups, we’re also situated close to a range of golf clubs, historical houses and outdoor activity providers. Finn Valley Cottages is the ideal destination for both work and play.
Contact our team to find out more about what to do during your stay at Finn Valley.

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Golf from Finn Valley Cottages

Embrace a Giant SpiritNorthern Ireland – made for golf

Northern Ireland is the home of world renowned golf courses – each with wonderful fairways and unbeatably smooth greens and other exclusive facilities! The best courses within easy travelling distance of Finn Valley self catering cottages include Royal Portrush, Portstewart, Ballyliffen, Rosapenna, Portsalon, Narin & Portnoo, Donegal (Murvagh), Castlerock, Lough Erne Resort as well as local courses at Newtownstewart and Strabane.

A number of famous golfers originate from Ireland – Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Christy O’Connor and Graeme McDowell to mention a few.

You can follow in their footsteps and enjoy the quality courses that they have always taken for granted.

Do you play golf? Finn Valley Cottages is the perfect location for a few rounds of golf! Whatever your level there is a course nearby to Finn Valley Cottages waiting for you to come along and sample! You can be sure of a very warm welcome and a high quality game.

Anne is a very keen golfer – and has recently been the Lady Captain at Newtownstewart Golf Club – Anne has played all the courses mentioned here so when you stay at Finn Valley Cottages she can guide you to the best courses, with the most competitive green fees and other details to help you find the most suitable courses for you during your stay.

Royal Portrush Golf
Photo: Royal Portrush Golf Club with the White Rocks in the background looking towards The Giant’s Causeway

Royal Portrush Golf Club – home of The Open in 2019 – is one of the many excellent links courses available within easy travelling from your lodgings at Finn Valley self catering cottages. The Dunluce course has again been awarded the No. 1 golf course in Ireland.

During the 2019 Open at Royal Portrush, visitors staying in Finn Valley Cottages went daily to spectate there – it was so convenient. What a joy it was also for Anne and her golfing friends to sit in the best grandstand seats at the 18th and join in the celebrations as Shane Lowry collected the Claret Jug. It is not unusual to see Darren Clarke on the course at Portrush.

There are 2 courses adjacent – The Valley Links which tends to be used mostly by the ladies and the great Dunluce Links which is a challenge for both the men and the ladies. Calamity Corner – a 210 yards par 3 is unforgiving when you do not reach the green. Short of the green will see the ball disappear into a large chasm of long grasses, interesting plants and difficult to negotiate the terrain. The much easier 18th often yields a good score which always makes me eager to return to this championship course.

Royal Portrush Valley Links

The Dunluce took over 2 of the best holes from the valley for “The Village” for the 2019 Open Championship. Mackenzie & Ebert added 2 excellent holes to The Valley which provides a lovely finishing stretch.  

The ladies clubhouse serves extremely high-quality food – so much so that it is often appealing to swap time for pre-play warm-up with another cup of coffee and delicious apple pie and cream.

Portstewart Golf course – The Strand


Portstewart Golf Course. Although there are 3 courses at Portstewart, I have played only The Strand which hosted the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Open and has been confirmed as the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open host venue for 2022.

Again I had the privilege of a great seat at the 18th on the 2017 final day to see Jon Rahm win. The bunkers don’t seem as daunting as the deep bowl-type bunkers at Royal Portrush, but accuracy is important. 

The 1st hole has a lovely elevated tee followed by a dog-leg to a beautifully manicured green between two sand dunes. The entire course is maintained to an extremely high standard and gives great confidence to intermediate golfers as the ball runs so far on the fairways. As most of the links courses along the wonderfully scenic coastline, it is the wind that creates so much of the thrill and the challenge.  One quickly learns to play more “off the right foot“ to play long and low to reduce wind interference. The clubhouse staff are very welcoming and with an excellent restaurant, it is the ideal way to finish a round. One can enjoy an excellent meal and observe how other players are dealing with the final hole.

Castlerock Golf Course


Castlerock’s Championship Mussenden course is great for all levels of golfer.

There are plenty of challenges, but nothing looks impossible and there are some very inviting par 3s.

The 4th is definitely  inviting but you need to be accurate. Just concentrate on the green and don’t get distracted by the railway line on the right and the stream on the left. Martin Hawtree upgraded the bunkers and added 2 new greens making this course a real joy to play.

The views like most of our links courses are excellent with views across to Donegal in one direction and towards Scotland in the other. The restaurant is extremely good and very reasonably priced.  Serious golfers who play Royal Portrush and The Strand, Portstewart like to include Castlerock in their tour.

Lough Erne Resort, near Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh


The Lough Erne Resort Faldo course was designed by Nick Faldo.  This is a Par 72 course measuring 7071 yards for the men.

I love playing this course in a 4-ball when 2 of the players are men. I feel that the ladies have the great advantage with the ladies tee-boxes being very far forward, consequently making it very enjoyable (and in my opinion easier)  for the ladies. The course record of 68 was set by Rory McIlroy.

The club house facilities are excellent – albeit the restaurant more expensive to eat in than the neighbouring Castlehume Golf course clubhouse – a very short distance away. The Faldo course has excellent refreshment facilities at the 9th where you can purchase tasty fish and chips – a great treat on a cold day.

There are several very tempting shots across water, but from experience it not always a good idea to take the short route as all too often I have underestimated the distance. Very frustrating when I could easily have taken a longer iron or a wood!! My favourite hole is the 10th – a  par 4 where definitely it is best to play your second shot short as any extra distance results in the ball accelerating across the green and disappearing into the lough! There is water around two thirds of the green. It is such a joy to watch the second shot land short on the side of the hill and roll gently down to the edge of or just onto the green.

The course is always immaculate and make for a truly great game of golf.

The 18th green has plenty of landing space and with your drive going over the reeds in the wetland it makes a great hole to finish on.

Cruit Island Golf course.  (Pronounced critch)

Cruit Golf Club

This little known golf course in the wilds of Donegal is an absolute joy to experience and well worth a visit even if you don’t play golf! It is a nine hole course with different tee boxes for the second nine.

Many serious golfers wouldn’t even consider playing a nine hole course,  but I can assure you that Cruit Island also presents a golfing challenge.

The scenery is stunning by any standards,  and  provides amazing views from virtually every hole. It is officially an island in the Rosses area of Co. Donegal, but it is linked to the mainland by a bridge so access is not a problem. Located near Kincasslagh it is famous for the home of singer and TV personality Daniel O’Donnell. Cruit island is about 3 miles long by 1 mile wide and enjoys 12  sandy beaches.

There are buggies for hire. Although there is a limited menu on offer,  if you enjoy fish and chips you are in for a real treat.

Don’t under-estimate the golf as there are numerous challenges on the way round.  The advantage of this challenging 9-hole course is that it gives you the opportunity to have another go at some of the really testing holes which you would  have had a great score at  if only…….

A day to Cruit Island  is a wonderful outing. The scenery on the way there is superb and you can finish the day by eating in one of the excellent gastronomic pubs in this remote part of Ireland.

Rosapenna. (Sandy Hills   and   Old Tom Morris)

Located on yet another fabulous scenic part of The Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal, the Old Tom Morris links is adjacent to Sandy Hills which was developed in 2003 by Pat Ruddy.

Old Tom Morris

In 1891 Old Tom Morris was a guest of Lord Leitrim and as he was driving around Donegal he discovered  Rosapenna as an ideal place for golf. Tom had come from St Andrews and on his return he told others about this wonderful Donegal paradise for golf.

The course was frequented by famous golfers such as Harry Vardon and James Braid in the early 1900s. Harry Colt of Sunningdale upgraded the course in 1911. In more recent years Pat Ruddy of the European Club ensured that the course flowed easily from start to finish.

There are superb views out over Tramore beach, Sheephaven Bay and Mulroy Bay.

Lady Captain

Lady Captain’s outing from Newtownstewart to Rosapenna

(following tea/coffee, home-made scones with jam and cream plus complementary bottle of wine for the course!!)

Sandy Hills

Pat Ruddy in 2003 used the big sand dunes to create a stunning course with fabulous views from every hole. This 7,255 yard course looks across the Old Tom Morris course and towards Sheephaven Bay. I usually treat myself to a buggy on  both courses when at Rosapenna. Those of us who hit shorter shots but keep on the fairway and out of the Marram grass can have a great round.

The club house has excellent facilities . There is a statue of Old Tom Morris near just outside the clubhouse.  The views from the bar and restaurant or from the outside balcony are stunning.

Rosapenna is one of my favourite places. Perhaps this is partly due to the superb restaurant in the Rosapenna Hotel which is part of the resort.  You can pick up a buggy either at the hotel or from the clubhouse. It is worth booking early for the restaurant to guarantee a table overlooking Downings beach.  This is a very safe beach where the rest of the family, if they are not golf enthusiasts, can spend a day on the beach while you enjoy the golf.

Downings Beach

Downings beach with Rosapenna Hotel in the background.

Rosapenna usually have their annual open week around the 1st/2nd week of August. Rosapenna is one  of the 3 courses in the Donegal Links Classic in conjunction with Portsalon and Ballyliffen.

Narin & Portnoo

Portnoo with its blue flag beach (Naran) is yet another panoramic beauty spot on the Wild Atlantic Way.  The sand dunes are designated a Natural Heritage area with a very diverse range of habitats.

Gil Hanse upgraded this course with some new holes and new greens in 2020.  It is now in private ownership and all facilities are excellent. The quality of the entire course has been raised to an entirely new level. With long sweeping fairways on the par-5s the ball “takes legs and runs”.

I always treat myself to a buggy at Portnoo. Each year, usually held at the end of July,  Narin & Portnoo is one of the three courses in the Lough Erne and Links 3 day challenge – the other courses being Lough Erne Resort and Donegal (Murvagh).

I am very lucky to have good friends who are members at Narin & Portnoo so it is even more enjoyable to have a catch up and good craic on the way round. They keep me right as to the best point to aim for.

Ballyliffin The Old Links and Glashedy Links

Ballyliffen offers two championship courses.  The Old Links and Glashedy Links

Ballyliffen is very much on The Wild Atlantic Way with the emphasis being on the “wild”.  Much of this course is exposed to the sea breeze or the strong winds which can play havoc with the best of well hit shots. Even players like Rory McIlroy who knows the course well got into trouble in the rough during  the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Again the scenery on this Donegal coastline is stunning.

The par 3 at the fifth is very inviting albeit guarded by 4 bunkers. The next par 3 at the seventh presents another great opportunity but you need to keep low on a windy day, otherwise the ball can easily fly towards the Atlantic ocean!

I have played here as part of the Donegal Classic  which is played annually at the end of August. 3 days playing Ballyliffen, Portsalon and Rosapenna.

Pollan Links.   9-holes at Ballyliffen.

In 2020 a new 9-hole course designed by Pat Ruddy was opened.  It is slightly more sheltered from the wind coming off the Atlantic ocean.

This is a great addition to cater for every level of golfer wishing to play at Ballyliffen.

Ballyliffen Golf Green

Rory McIlroy in the rough at Ballyliffen in the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.


Rory McIlroy preparing to chip out of the rough ain the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffen.

Rory Mcilory

Ballyliffen and its sloping green.

Portsalon Golf Club

Portsalon golf club is currently rent in one of the top 20 in Ireland. Golf has been played here since the 1880s and originally designed by Charles Thompson of Portrush.  The most recent changes were guided by Pat Ruddy  in 2000

The 1st and 18th are much easier since the very wide stream crossing the fairways was covered with a grid.  At the 2nd it is very tempting to cut the corner, but it is no real advantage as the second shot is more important in terms of getting onto the green without “slipping into the drink”. The views from the 4th across the beach. Ballymastocker beach across Ballymastocker Bay provides yet another blue flag beach along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Portsalon ranks as another of my favourites. Each time I look forward to playing  the 16th  which depends on laying up – but not too far away –  before the final chip shot onto the green. The course is very well maintained and I always enjoy the refreshments in the clubhouse.

Portsalon Golf Club

Donegal Golf Club (Murvagh)

Donegal golf club is located at Murvagh about 10 minutes drive from Donegal Town.  The course was originally designed by Eddie Hackett and was referred to as the Muirfield of Ireland. 

Pat Ruddy has guided recent updates and with its new clubhouse in 1998 it is another of my favourite golf courses. Within easy reach of Finn Valley Cottages I play in their winter league. 

Darren Clarke describes it as one of his “favourite courses in the world”.

Despite knowing this Donegal course  well every game presents a new challenge.

My favourite hole  is the par-3 over the Valley of Tears. It is so rewarding to land the ball on the slope to the left of the green and watch it run down towards the flag. I will not  describe the feeling when the ball falls short and ends up down in the valley.

 Perhaps the most cruel shot is to land on the green and watch as the ball runs off into the bunker or bounces off into the steep drop on the right.

There is another lovely par-3 at hole  16. This is known as the Temple, named after the owner of Magee’s of Donegal which is a famous tweed shop selling Donegal tweed clothing throughout the world. This is an easier par-3 if you can avoid the fairway bunker just before the green.

The 18th named after Barnesmore Gap in the Bluestack Mountains is a great way to finish, but you must make sure to get up onto the elevated green on your final approach.

The 19th hole is excellent. I always enjoy coffee and a fresh scone on arrival in the morning and look forward to a meal afterwards with friends .   

All the courses mentioned above are in the top 45 of Ireland’s best golf courses.

Anne Speers your hostess – who is she?

I was born and brought up here on a small mixed farm exactly where Finn Valley Cottages are now located. It was typical of farming in Ireland at that time, where many farms had a mix of cattle, sheep, pigs and hens. My father kept pigs, chickens and cattle and I adored helping him with the daily livestock and other farm chores. I really enjoyed feeding the pigs and going up the fields with my father to count the sheep and cattle. 

In my childhood I vaguely remember hen houses in the fields and all livestock was free range. I was very much an outdoor person and loved helping on the farm. I wanted to carry buckets of water from an early age and frequently remember spilling the water down the inside of my welly boots as even the small milking buckets were really too big for me to carry! I hear you ask what is a “milking bucket”. It was a small metal bucket which the milk went into when hand milking. We had a quiet white cow who allowed me to milk her, but insisted on kicking the workman when he tried to milk her. She was also happy to let my father milk her and he held her tail during milking. That was a skill that was too advanced for me and so I had her tail occasionally swiping right around my head as I squeezed the strands of milk out. My mother was not happy when I came back into the house with my hair and clothes smelling of cows! Like the workmen, I had a pair of dungarees to go over my clothes but I did not wear a hat or a cap. 

When I was about six years old I got the best birthday present ever. I was told my present was outside and I still remember the joy when I found a brown and white calf with a tiny greetings label around its neck and standing in a warm and cosy pen made with straw bales in the barn. It was a sad day when I said goodbye to my precious grown-up calf 18 months later as it made its way to market in a very large cattle lorry.

I loved going places with my father and I was very occasionally allowed to go to the cattle market and the pig market in Strabane. The cattle market was on the site of where the library and Alley Theatre now stand and the pig market was in what is now Dock Street car park. Dock Street was where the canal came all the way into the centre of Strabane. A  hundred  years ago it was possible to get on  a canal boat in Strabane and go to Derry/ Londonderry and then board a ship to emigrate to America.

I was a very practical child and was lucky enough to get a donkey. The only item of harness that I initially possessed was a bit – the remainder of the bridle was made from rope. There was no saddle – instead I had an empty meal sack – a jute sack that the pig meal had been in. This was a great way to achieve good balance when learning to ride. When I progressed to a pony the donkey followed the pony over the jumps. A major thrill was to become the very proud owner of a real saddle with stirrups. 

Growing up on the farm was a mix of hard work and fun, but it was not much fun when I had to do my school work. My Mother was Principal at Tullywhisker Primary School and so homework took a great priority.

I have an older brother, Hall, who was far more studious in his approach to life. I was the naughty outdoor child and he was the reliable young man who always “did as he was told” – especially where homework and study was involved. Today he is a Bishop in the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Mahajanga in Madagascar – (having retired some years ago from being a rector in a London parish – he remains a workaholic, instead of enjoying a well-earned retirement!) 

When my father became unwell in the late 1960s I ran the farm and at the same time attended Loughry Agricultural College to study for an HND in Poultry Production 

My first ‘proper’ job after college was as a lecturer in Poultry production at Plumpton Agricultural College in Sussex. Quite a change in cultures from rural Ireland to southern England! After a few years there I moved to Harper Adams College in Shropshire to their poultry department for another few years, before returning to Plumpton as the new Head of the Poultry Department there. Teaching was not my real love as it was so restrictive. I completed a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA), part time ,at what was then Brighton Polytechnic (now Sussex University). I joined a commercial poultry/food firm Daylay, near Newark in Nottinghamshire as technical manager on the agricultural team. This was much more interesting and I eventually moved to North Yorkshire as their area manager in charge of a group of poultry farms and their associated 90+ staff.  During all of this time I continued to manage the family farm from afar. 

After 10 years in industry I returned home to Ireland in 2000, to start my own business from scratch. Since returning home I have done poultry consultancy, and farm quality inspections for the industry both in Ireland and the UK. 

In 2012 as part of a farm diversification scheme, I began to develop redundant barns on the family farm to create Finn Valley Cottages, and as they say the rest is history! 

One of my goals in life was to marry a farmer, but instead I married David, who is a Church of Ireland Parish Priest in Taughboyne in Donegal. You may see him around at the cottages when you visit. He is interested in churches and history so he can help you to trace your family roots in the area or take you on a guided tour of churches – including Derry Cathedral where he might play your favourite hymn on the organ. 

Finn Valley Cottages is my retirement project!. I have been very privileged to meet some very interesting people and I thoroughly enjoy meeting the guests. 

My interests are horse riding,  golf and fishing. My favourite golf courses are Narin and Portnoo, Murvagh, Rosapenna, Portsalon , Cruit Island and Royal Portrush as well as being  Lady Captain 2020 in Newtownstewart 

My favourite fishing is on the Mourne, the Owenkillew , the upper parts of the Finn and the Derg.

A person riding a horse

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A person riding a horse

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A person riding a horse in a field

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Salmon fishing in Ireland


The salmon fishing can be very good from the end of May onwards, with the peak months being June and July, but can fish well from March until the end of September. The River Finn is a spate river and there is fantastic fishing shortly after heavy rain – which is a frequent occurrence in Ireland!!


The Mourne is not a spate river but like many other Irish rivers, it fishes best as the water fines down, but because of its size it usually fishes well for 3 or 4 days after the flood waters have receded. The Grilse will often press on unless the water is really low.

Click here for more information about fishing holidays at Finn Valley Cottages.

The Grainan Of Aileach

The Grianán of Aileach  is a hill top fort located on the western edge of a small group of hills. Situated on Greenan Mountain at Inishowen, County Donegal in Ireland that lie between the upper reaches of Lough Swilley and Lough Foyle. A short drive of about 25 minutes from Finn Valley Cottages.


Grianan at sunset

Although the hill not very high (244metres), the summit dominates the neighbouring counties of Londonderry, (Derry), Donegal and Tyrone. Located at the edge of the Inishowen peninsula, it is 11.25 kilometres (7 mi) northwest of the ecclesiastical site of Derry. The views from the carpark and from the fort are spectacular. A wheelchair friendly path links the car park to the fort.

It is believed that the currently existing hillfort was built by Northern Ui Neill around the sixth or seventh century AD, but the first settlement, also a fortress, was most probably created around the 1st century.


The round fort is built largely without mortar. The interior has three terraces which are linked by steps. The wall is about 4.5 metres (15 ft) thick and 5 metres (16 ft) high, with two long passages within it. Originally, there would have been wooden structures were built against the terraces to provide accommodation.  Just outside it are the remains of a well and a tumulus. The outline of Bronze Age or Iron Age ramparts can be seen below the fort. Legend states that the giants of Inishowen are lying sleeping but when the sacred sword is removed they will spring to life reclaiming their ancient lands.

It has been identified as the seat of the Kingdom of Ailech and one of the royal sites of Gaelic Ireland. There is much legend and historical material related to the Grianán of Aileach. The Irish Annals record its destruction in 1101. The main monument on the hill is a stone cashel, restored in the nineteenth century, but probably built in the eighth century CE. The summit’s use as an area of settlement may go back much further. A tumulus at the Grianán may date back to the Neolithic age. A covered well was found near the cashel in the early nineteenth century.