68 Clooney Rd,
This topline, 44-bedroom hotel, overlooking Lough Foyle and the Donegal hills, is in terms of accommodation and quality of service far removed from the original little roadside inn, but in terms of position, it’s removed only a few feet and still retains the stone- flagged floor, fireplace, snug, porch and front door of its predecessor.
The 1777 flintlock, blunderbuss and sword on the wall as you enter recall a less sedate past; the modern sunken lounge, the expensively furnished open-plan dining area and the luxurious rooms are hardly the stuff of highway adventures.
Yet past and present are linked in the phantom mail-coach, drawn by four elegant white horses, which ghostly apparition is said to appear every seven years.
Some local people believe fervently in the legend.
In 1959, James McElwee gave this report of his experience: “I saw four beautiful white horses and a coach without wheels, encircled by a glow of light.
It rumbled along the left hand side of the road, and drove round to the yard of the Inn, where the old mail coach once watered. There it awaited its passengers while they had a 29 meal.
The driver was dressed in old time garments and was a tall, stout, friendly sort of man.
I enquired inside the inn, but no-one else had seen the driver or the coach, and when I looked out again, the coach and horses had gone.” Henry Doherty also saw the glittering coach passing his house: “Beheaven, the bite I was eatin’ almost choked me.
It was floatin’ in the air, and although I couldn’t see the horses, I could still hear the rat-tat of their hooves fading away in the distance.” The Cole family who owned the Inn for many years, is reported to have seen the coach on numerous occasions.They attached no malign significance to it whatever, but preferred to see its repeated return as being in honour of the wonderful fare and wine for which the inn was famous.
Today’s owners will not promise you a glimpse of the famous phantom mail coach, but they will guarantee wining and dining second to none.