County Donegal Overview
- Big drops and beaches
- Country life
- Gone fishing
County Donegal is the most northerly part of Ireland, home to a whole 300 kilometres of craggy coastline and the biggest sea cliffs in Europe…
This gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area) packs in a series of headlands, promontories and peninsulas, making for a seriously spectacular shoreline. Head to the Glencolmcille Peninsula for a vertiginous stroll along Slieve League, a mighty set of cliffs; Killybegs was once the country’s busiest fishing fort, and Ardara is a delight, with cranny-filled pubs and fresh country air. This is the shiny green isle’s second biggest county after Cork, with a name that means ‘fort of the foreigners’ in Gaelic – despite always having dodged the hold of English invaders, largely due to its wild terrain. Inland, expect glens, rivers and bogs, often mist-shrouded, but always ethereally beautiful. There may be no fairies and leprechauns in reality, but in these fantasy lands, you can almost see them.
Completely County Donegal
When it comes to the use of a loom, County Donegal is famed for its deft hands. Craftsmen and women throughout the county keep its textile tradition alive, creating Aran knitwear and tweed. Pick up some spun attire at Kennedy of Ardara (+353 (0)74 954 1106), in Ardara.
- It’s best to book taxis rather than flag. In Ardara, things get friendly, and you’ll be on first-name terms. Try: Sean on +353 (0)87 667 5555; Francis on 353 (0)87 274 8317; Gerard on +353 (0)87 648 8628, or Martin on +353 (0)86 161 2520.
- Tipping culture
- 10 per cent is standard.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Shops in bigger cities are usually open between 9am and 5pm; in rural parts, it’s best to call ahead to check. Sundays are very quiet; some places are closed on Mondays.
- Packing tips
- The coast can get wet and windy – bring suitable clothing. It’s not uncommon for live music to break out in Irish pubs, so have your flute and fiddle at the ready.
- Recommended reads
- Dancing at Lughnasa and Philadelphia Here I Come! by Brian Friel, and some Patrick MacGill, Glenties’ favourite literary son.
- The daily catch rules around here, so look out for the freshest prawns and oysters. Seafood chowder is also popular, and chances are it’ll be served with a hunk of soda bread. The Irish love their whiskey and Guinness, and it was only a matter of time before these made their way in solid dairy form onto a cheeseboard. Cahill’s is made in Limerick, but sold in Donegal (www.cahillscheese.ie).
- Euro (€).
- Time zone
- Dialling codes
- Country code for Ireland: 353; County Donegal: (0)74.
- Do go/don't go
- Avoid the summer crowds and skip July and August if you can. Spring and autumn are mild enough, though it can rain at any time.
Don't go home without...
…exploring the Caves of Maghera on Maghera Beach, a dune-covered, mountain-flanked unspoilt shore on the Atlantic.