Ireland has some of the most dramatic and highest ranked links golf courses in the wrld. It may not be the Home of Golf, but there are so many fairways, greens and bunkers to be explored.
Last month we were hosted in Northern Ireland’s Derry (Londonderry) by the VisitDerry Tourist Board. Here’s what we loved about it.
Derry is very accessible. Belfast is just over 1 hour away and Loganair operates direct flights into City of Derry Airport from Glasgow and many English airports including London Stansted, Manchester and Liverpool.
The central location approximately 1 hour or less to famous links including; Ballyliffin, Royal Portrush, Portstewart, Castlerock, Donegal, Portsalon and Rosapenna.
Derry is literally steeped in history and has the most intact city walls of any in Europe (dating back to 1616)
It is an up and coming destination, with recent investment, buzz from the hit show Derry Girls and becoming known as one of the best Halloween destinations in the world.
We spent 3 days in Derry and here are the highlights:
Ballyliffin Golf Club
Ballyliffin is the most northerly course in Ireland and hosted the 2018 Irish Open won by Russell Knox. In the morning I played The Glashedy Links and enjoyed a modern Pat Ruddy layout on the higher terrain offering stunning views. After a pint in the clubhouse it was onto Ballyliffin Old Course, famous for its more traditional classic links features including the bumpy fairways. The Old Course has a picturesque back 9, as it is closer to sea where you enjoy the views of Ballyliffin rock. Our game benefitted from joining up with some members from Enniscrone Golf Club, Sligo who were visiting for a short break.
To mix it up we also tried a couple of parkland courses 15 minutes from Derry town centre. Foyle Golf Centre is best known for its state-of-the-art fully automated 26-bay driving range, total golf shop, Par 3 course and the lively Link 48 Sports bar. The 18 hole parkland course is not a bad place for a knock about either and it's said the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo, Amelia Earhart, landed on what is now the 6th green at Foyle Golf Centre in 1932.
City of Derry Golf Club is a more traditional members club, the greens were immaculate when we visited and it’s a mature parkland course with some amazing vistas of The River Foyle, an ideal venue for golf societies visiting Derry.
From museums, walking tours, the River Foyle, ancient walls and learning about Bloody Sunday, there is something for everyone in Derry. If you are looking for modern social history you can check out the impressive Derry Girls Mural. We would thoroughly recommend Martin McCrossan City Tours, a visit to the Museum of Free Derry and the Tower Museum where the knowledge of the local guides is second to none. The Peace Bridge and Guildhall are also worth exploring.
Places to Eat & Drink
During our stay I enjoyed dinner at Browns in the Town, which is Michelin recommended and serves up fresh seafood from Greencastle. The Shipquay Hotel also has a fine restaurant.
A short walk over The Peace Bridge in the former army barracks at Ebrington Square you can choose from over 200 beers at The Walled City Brewery, recently named 2021 UK Taproom of The Year. There is a plethora of bars to choose from within the walled city as well as a great nightlife. For the quintessential Irish pub try Peadar O’Donnell’s and The Derry Craft Village is a cultural oasis in the heart of a vibrant city.
Places To StayOur hotel for trip was the 4-star Derry City Hotel, offering large rooms with views over the River Foyle and The Peace Bridge. It is in the centre of Derry, so ideal for exploring attractions and nightlife. Facilities include Thompson’s restaurant, Coppin’s Bar, Hervey’s Roof Terrance, underground car parking, indoor pool and health & fitness suite.
If you are looking for something more boutique then The Bishop’s Gate Hotel, was a former gentleman’s club which once hosted Winston Churchill and has been transformed into an elegant hotel.
Visitors also have the choice of the 4-star Everglades or Shipquay Hotels . If your trip will not be until 2023 you could stay in the luxury hotel which is currently under construction in Ebrington Square next to The Walled City Brewery.