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Crohy Head Sea Arch, Donegal

Crohy Head Sea Arch, Donegal

Crohy Head Sea Arch, Donegal

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in our disclosure policy.

Crohy Head Sea Arch is just one of many hidden gems that dot the Donegal coastline. Located of the Mullaghmullan Peninsula, the Crohy Head Sea Arch is a magnificent sight on the rugged West Donegal coastline.

Crohy Head Sea Arch

Crohy Head Sea Arches just after sunrise

 

Crohy Head Sea Arch

Crohy Head Sea Arch is a spectacular sea arch located on the coast of the Mullaghmullan Peninsula in Donegal. Sometimes called ‘The Breeches’, the arch is one of the most beautiful in Ireland. The sea arch, and its dramatic coastal landscape, are popular with photographers and making the short hike to the arch is one of our favorite things to do in Donegal.

The arch is relatively easy to visit and is a perfect stop while en route to or from a day trip to Arranmore Island.

There are three sea arches at Crohy Head but only the most prominent arch, the Bristi Sea Stack, is fully visible from the cliff side viewpoint. It rises around 150 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and the rocky coastline below. The other two arches can be seen from the rocky beach surrounding the arches.

It is possible to hike down to the beach but only at low tide.. At high tide and times of wet weather it is not possible, or safe, to access the beach at the arches so viewing the other two is difficult from the cliff.

Crohy Head Sea Arch

View from the cliff at Crohy Head

 

How to get to the Crohy Head Sea Arch?

The arch itself is located just off the sea road that hugs the coast on the Mullaghmullan Peninsula near the small village of Maghery. Due to its location and the narrow roads that lead there the arch is most easily reached by car.

The shortest route to the arches is via the coast road from the small town of Dungloe, from which Crohy Head Sea Arch is 8km west. After a short drive west from Dungloe, the road passes through the small seaside village of Maghery where it turns south along the Mullaghmullan Peninsula towards the arch. The road narrows considerably and only has space for one vehicle in either direction.

There is no official car park or access for the arch, only a short pull-in on the roadside for passing traffic. The cliffs where the arch is located are accessed via an unmarked grassy lane (see the map for its location) down to the arch. It’s worth knowing in advance to know where exactly where the arch is and where to access it.

I’ve linked what the small access lane to the arch looks like on this map link.

It’s a 10 minute walk and you just need to keep walking towards the sea, obviously minding your footing as you get towards the edge of the cliff. Depending on which way you walk you may have to climb over a low barbed wire fence but it is relatively easy. You should be able to spot the access path down to the beach. As with any hike, be cautious on cliff edges and, when it is possible to at low tide, descending to the beach below.

Crohy Head Sea Arch tip: do not try to access the beach at Crohy Head Sea Arch when the tide is in or in wet weather as it can be very dangerous. The descent to the beach is very steep and even on a good day even experienced hikers will need to take care and wear proper foot wear.

 

Map of Route to Great Pollet Sea Arch

We’ve put together a map showing exactly where the Crohy Head Sea Arch is and how to get to it:

Click here for the map

 

Things to Do Near to Crohy Head Sea Arch

We visited Crohy Head Sea Arch as part of the day trip when we were en route to Arranmore Island. It is around a 20 minute drive from Crohy Head Sea Arch to Burtonport where the ferry for Arranmore departs from. Arranmore Island is one of the best day trips in Donegal and the island is wild, rugged and beautiful.

Old Lighthouse Steps Arranmore Island

The Old Lighthouse steps on Arranmore are stunning

Arranmore Island

Amazing views on Arramore

 

Another unique place to visit nearby is the island fort of Doon Fort, an ancient ring fort located on a small island in the middle of Lough Doon in the west of Donegal..The nearby village of Maghery has a beautiful beach that it worth a stop if you have time. It is around a 40 minute drive from Crohy Head Sea Arch to Doon Fort.

Doon Fort Donegal

Doon Fort

 

If you want to discover more Donegal sea arches then Great Pollet Sea Arch is located 90 minutes north east of Crohy Head. It’s a magnificent sea arch and you can incorporate a visit to the beautiful Fanad Lighthouse while there. Access to Great Pollet Sea Arch has been difficult due to a landowner dispute – we were able to access it from beach level on our last visit but it is challenging to find and you will likely need the help of a friendly local to point you in the right direction.

Great Pollet Sea Arch

Great Pollet Sea Arch

 

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Your Ireland Vacation

 

Helping you make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Great Pollet Sea Arch, Donegal

Great Pollet Sea Arch, Donegal

Great Pollet Sea Arch, Donegal

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in our disclosure policy.

The Great Pollet Sea Arch is one of the most stunning sights on the rugged Donegal coastline. Located on the eastern side of the Fanad Peninsula the Great Pollet Sea Arch is one of the largest and most impressive sea arches in Ireland and is an awesome detour off the Fanad Head stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way.

In recent years the Great Pollet Sea Arch has become notoriously difficult to access but the magnificent sea arch is more than worth the effort!

Great Pollet Sea Arch

The incredible Great Pollet Sea Arch

 

 

Great Pollet Sea Arch

Great Pollet Sea Arch is Ireland’s largest sea arch and was formed as a result of thousands of years of erosion from the wild Atlantic Ocean.

The arch is located a short distance from the headland just north of the small village of Doagh Beg on the east side of the Fanad Peninsula. It’s only short detour from the popular Wild Atlantic Way road trip route and the arch attracts lots of visitors each year due to its beauty and east of access.

It is possible to view the arch from the low cliff on the headland or from sea level on the rocky shoreline below.

Drone photo Great Pollet Sea Arch

Great Pollet Sea Arch shot on our drone

 

 

How to get to the Great Pollet Sea Arch?

There are two ways to check out the Great Pollet Sea Arch and both are challenging!

Great Pollet Sea Arch Viewpoint (currently inaccessible)

Great Pollet Sea Arch: this route is the subject of a dispute with access blocked. It was considered a public right of way but access has been prohibited for the last couple of years.

The official viewpoint for Great Pollet Arch Sea is a 1km drive north of the town of Doagh Beg and the sea arch is signposted along the route. There is a small parking lot at the end of the road where visitors can park. It’s a residential area so make sure not to block the road or any local houses driveways. From here it’s a short walk to a gate with a turnstile. The access route then crosses farmland before reaching a low cliff that overlooks the arch.

However, this access route has proved contentious in recent years and the turnstile has been blocked along with signs indicating access has been prohibited. You can still give it a try but we haven’t heard of any recent success stories!

 

Via Headland at Doagh Beg Beach at low tide

At low tide, it may be possible to approach Great Pollet from the south of the sea arch but you will need to find a friendly local to direct you through the maze of farmland which surrounds the headland leading to the arch. This route is only accessible at low tide and, as with any coastal hike, extreme care must be taken when approaching the exposed cliff side over the headland.

Note: We accessed the arch via the traditional route and have not attempted hiking from the south of the arch. Either way, take extreme care as the entire headland features exposed cliffs: watch your footing and stay away from the cliff side.

Great Pollet Sea Arch

Great Pollet Sea Arch

 

Fanad Lighthouse

If you’re making a trip to see the Great Pollet Sea Arch you should also take the time to stop at Fanad Lighthouse. It’s one of the most rugged and beautiful places in Donegal and worthy of  a stop on any Donegal trip.

Fanad Head Lighthouse

Fanad Head Lighthouse

 

 

Crohy Head Sea Arch

Located 90 minutes south west of the Great Pollet Sea Arch, the Crohy Head Sea Arch is another magnificent sea arch on the Donegal coast. It is located is 8 kilometres west of Dungloe on the Wild Atlantic Way. Like the Great Pollet Sea Arch it can be difficult to locate the Crohy Head Sea Arch.

 

 

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Your Ireland Vacation

 

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The Best Beaches in Donegal (a locals guide)

The Best Beaches in Donegal (a locals guide)

The Best Beaches in Donegal (a locals guide)

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in our disclosure policy.

The beaches in Donegal are truly breathtaking and there are some incredible gems dotted along its rugged coast. It’s no surprise that its beaches are considered among the most beautiful in Ireland. We’ve spent months exploring every corner of Donegal and have put together this list of our best beaches in Donegal. We’ve personally visited each one of these beaches and had a lot of fun exploring them all!

Best beaches in Donegal

Silver Strand, Donegal

 

Map of the Best Beaches in Donegal

To make it easier to find all these beaches we’ve put this map together which lists each of the best beaches.

How to Use This Google Map: Click on the grey star at the top of the map and this map will be added to your Google Maps account. You can then view it on your phone or computer in Google Maps by clicking on the menu button, going to “Your Places” and selecting this map. We use these maps all the time as you can set out your itinerary ahead of time and quickly reference the saved maps.

The Best Beaches in Donegal

From the remote ruggedness of Murder Hole Beach to the endless stretches of white sands at Five Finger Strand, there are so many amazing beaches in Donegal to choose from. These are our 14 best beaches in Donegal:

 

 1 | Kinnagoe Bay

We stumbled across the secluded Kinnagoe Bay while exploring the Inishowen Peninsula a few years ago and it quickly became one of our favorite beaches in Donegal.

The beach itself is relatively small and, at high tide, the strand is split in two by a rocky headland. With its exposure to the thrashing Atlantic waves Kinnagoe Bay is beautifully rugged.

Best beaches in Donegal tip: Kinnagoe Bay is the final resting place of one of the more famous Spanish Armada shipwrecks, La Trinidad Valencera which ran aground off the coast in 1588. There is a small plaque at the beach to commemorate it.

Kinnagoe Bay Donegal

Kinnagoe Bay

 

2 | Bád Eddie Shipwreck – Magheraclogher Beach

The beautiful white sand beach at Magheraclogher is beautiful in itself. However, what really makes it unique is the shipwreck known as Bád Eddie (or Eddie’s Boat) that lies on the strand. In 1977 a boat called Cara na Mara was towed to the beach for some routine repair work. Since then the boat has lain on the beach where the daily tide partially submerges it.

Due to its oak construction, the wreck has remained largely intact over the years despite the constant tides weathering it. There is a local movement to try to preserve this unique boat that is now part of the Donegal landscape. Bad Eddie has become relatively well know international over the years.  The wreck featured in a music video In a Lifetime by Clannad and Bono and has been a big draw for visitors to Gweedore over the years.

Best beaches in Donegal tip: At lower tides it possible to walk out the wreck itself and it’s a great location for photos.

Bad Eddie

The wreck of Bad Eddie

 

3 | Stroove Beach

Located a few kilometres north of the small village of Greencastle on the Inishowen Peninsula, Stroove Beach is one of Donegal’s most underrated beaches.

Protected on both sides by headlands, including the Stroove Lighthouse, this small beach is a real hidden gem in Donegal. The water is perfect for swimming for both young and old and it is popular with families. There is parking right by the beach so you don’t need to walk very far. On a nice day in Donegal there is no other beach we’d rather be on!

Best beaches in Donegal tip: Make sure to check out the Inishowen Head Loop walk. It starts atop the Inishowen head and you can join at Stroove Lighthouse. It is a moderate 8km looped walk that takes around 3 hours to complete. It’s one of our favourite walks in Ireland due to the stunning coastal views (on a clear day you can see the west of Scotland) and the rugged landscape.

Best beaches in Donegal

The entrance to Stroove Beach

Best beaches in Donegal

Stroove Beach

 

4 | Murder Hole Beach (Boyeeghter Bay)

The ominously named Murder Hole Beach, real name Boyeeghter Bay, is a small isolated beach on the north coast of Donegal. Located on Melmore Head on the Rosguill Peninsula, Murder Hole is one of the most ruggedly beautiful beaches in Donegal, if not the whole of Ireland. The raw beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way can be witnessed he

The secluded beach is dotted with small caves and surrounded by stunning cliffs. While swimming is not advised due to the rip currents in the water, Murder Hole is beautiful to explore on foot. Aim to visit at low tide so you can access the sea cave near the south end of the beach. Despite it’s ominous name, Murder Hole beach is one of the most stunning beaches we’ve ever visited!

Best Beaches in Donegal tip: the best views of the beach are from the cliffs on the north end of the strand.

Best beaches in Donegal

The stunning Murder Hole Beach

 

 

5 | Silver Strand Beach

One of the more remote beaches on this list is the epic Silver Strand Beach in the Gaeltacht village of Malin Beg. While many visitors to Donegal will travel to the Slieve League Cliffs nearby, only a few make the extra 30km journey to picturesque Malin Beg.

Silver Strand Beach is a secluded crescent-shaped cove accessed via a winding stairway path from the car park above. You’ll likely see sheep grazing the hillside as you descend to the white sand beach.

Best beaches in Donegal tip: Silver Strand is our favourite beach for swimming in Donegal. On a good day, the water is quite a pleasant temperature and the views are spectacular.

Silver Strand Beach

Silver Strand Beach

 

6 | Ballymastocker Beach

Ballymastocker Beach, also known as Portsalon beach, is one of the best blue flag beaches in Ireland. This beautiful strand of pure white sand stretches over 2km from the seaside town of Portsalon to the southern headland.

Best beaches in Donegal

Ballymastocker Bay

Don’t miss the epic viewpoint of Ballymastocker Beach located just off the road to the south of the beach. The pull-in is a Wild Atlantic Way viewpoint and the view from here is incredible.

Best beaches in Donegal

The Wild Atlantic Way Viewpoint of Ballymastocker Bay

 

Best beaches in Ireland tip: If you’re in the area make sure to try and visit the Great Pollet Sea Arch which is around 20 minutes by car from Ballymastocker Beach. It’s one of the great sea arches in Ireland and is a short walk from the car park.

Great Pollet Sea Arch Donegal

The Great Pollet Sea Arch

 

7 | Rosbeg Beach

The charm of Rosbeg Beach lies in its relatively small size and the views across the bay to the Glencolmcille Peninsula. The beach also looks onto a small rocky bay with an old fishing pier.

At low tide the small rocky islands are exposed and visitors can walk among them. The small uninhabited island of Inishbarnog is the larger of the rock outcrops which you can reach at low tide.

Best beaches in Donegal

Rosbeg Beach

 

 

8 | Narin/Portnoo Beach

The blue flag Narin/Portnoo beach is a great beach for swimming and the long strand is perfect for a relaxing stroll – the beach is well protected from the forces of the Atlantic by the nearby Dunmore head.

At low tide, it is possible to walk to the small island of Inishkeel. The island is home to an old church and stone slabs and is definitely worth a visit. Allowing for the tides lets visitors explore the small island for around 30 minutes before returning to the mainland across the beach

It’s also possible to see the inhabited island of Aranmore from Narin/Portnoo beach.

Best beaches in Donegal

The beautiful strand at Narin/Portnoo

 

 

9 | St Johns Point Beach

St Johns Point is a narrow peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic on the southern end of Donegal and is home to one of the county’s most beautiful beaches. The beach at St. Johns Point is a quiet strand around 300 metres long and is perfect for a few hours of relaxation. Due to its easterly facing view, the beach is well sheltered from the waves and wind of the Atlantic.

The views across Donegal Bay are stunning and Mayo and Sligo are visible. A short distance from the beach is one of Ireland most unique places to stay – the St Johns Point Lighthouse. Visitors can actually stay in one of the two light keepers cottages at the lighthouse, aptly named the Clipper and the Schooner, and the lighthouse which is still in operation.

St Johns Point beach

St Johns Point beach

 

 

10 | Culdaff Beach

The popular Blue Flag Culdaff Beach is around a 30 minute drive north of Stroove on the Inishowen Peninsula. The beach is comprised of two parts with a large and small beach separated by a rocky headland. We prefer the smaller of the two beaches as it’s less exposed to the wind, however both beaches can get quite busy on nice days.

Culdaff is very popular for watersports and swimming and usually attracts large crowds on pleasant days.

Culdaff Beach Donegal

Culdaff Beach

 

11 | Maghera Beach and Caves

The beautiful Maghera strand is just one kilometre from the popular Assaranca Waterfall . We loved Maghera as it’s a less well-known beach and doesn’t attract as many people as the other popular Donegal beaches.

There are over 20 caves dotted along the cliffs to the west of Maghera Beach, some of which can be accessed on foot at low tide. It recommended to explore the caves by kayak due to the tides and rising waters and a number of tours operate to the caves.

Best beaches in Donegal

Maghera Beach

 

12 | Five Finger Strand

Nestled behind some of the highest sand dunes in Europe is the beautiful Blue Flag beach of Five Finger Strand. With its rolling sand dunes and beautiful scenery it’s easy to see why Five Finder Strand is considered one the best beaches in Donegal. A stroll along Five Finger strand is likely to be one of the most memorable moments of visiting Donegal.

Best Beaches in Donegal tip: On busy days the narrow road down to Five Finger Strand gets busy and it can be tricky to turn your car. It’s easier to park up the road close to the church and walk down to the beach.

Five Finger Strand Donegal

Five Finger Strand

 

13 | Tullan Strand

Tullan Strand is one of the most popular beaches in Donegal and for good reason. This incredible stretch of white sandy beach is located at the mouth of the Erne River Estuary. There is parking for around 50 cars so, on busy days, it is worth arriving at the beach early to avoid having to walk from Bundoran town.

Tullan strand is a popular surfing location and visitors can take a surf lesson or rent boards from the local surf school.

Best Beaches in Donegal tip: Make sure to check out the cliffs to the south of Tullan Strand which are famous for their stone arch known as the Fairy Bridge.

Tullan Strand Donegal

Tullan Strand

 

14 | Carrickfinn Beach

The pristine Carrickfinn Beach is located parallel to the runway of Donegal Airport. On a good day, the white sands and the pristine turquoise waters of Carrcikfinn Beach could easily be mistaken for somewhere on the Mediterranean. The views across Gweedore Bay make Carrickfinn perfect for a refreshing walk on the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s no surprise that Carrickfinn Beach is a regular recipient of the Blue Flag award

Best Beaches in Donegal tip: Donegal Airport was voted the second most scenic in the world. The views from take off and landing of Gweedore Bay and Carrickfinn beach are breathtaking.

 

Carrickfinn Beach

Carrickfinn Beach

 

 

 

About Us

 

Your Irish Vacation aims to give you the best itineraries and guides to make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Your Ireland Vacation

 

Helping you make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Doon Fort, Donegal: Ireland’s Most Unique Fort!

Doon Fort, Donegal: Ireland’s Most Unique Fort!

Doon Fort, Donegal: Ireland’s Most Unique Fort!

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in our disclosure policy.

Located on a small island in the middle of a lough Doon Fort is one of the most remarkable sights in County Donegal. The ancient ring fort is believed to be over 1,500 years old and is thought to have been occupied by some of the most prominent families in early medieval Donegal.

We’ve stopped by Doon Fort during our Ireland travels and wanted to share our love for one of Donegal’s hidden gems!

Doon Fort Donegal

Doon Fort

 

Doon Fort

Doon Fort is an ancient ring fort located on a small island in the middle of Lough Doon in the west of Donegal. Its construction is believed to date back over 1,500 years as far back as the 5th Century. The fort is constructed of dry stone and has thick walls which are 15 feet high.

The fort itself is accessed via private land belonging to a local family. In previous years they have provided small boats for rent during the summer months to allow visitors access to the fort.

Doon Fort Donegal

Doon Fort

 

Visiting Doon Fort

Doon Fort is located on private land and is not visible from the road. Boats are sometimes available to rent from the adjacent McHugh Farm and this allows visitors to reach the island and explore the fort.

Doon Fort Donegal

Doon Fort

Given the fort’s spectacular location in the middle of Lough Doon the aerial views are magnificent.

Doon Fort Donegal

Doon Fort

 

How to get to Doon Fort

Doon Fort is located close to the village of Adara in the West of Donegal. It is less than 15 minutes from the seaside towns of Rossbeg and Portnoo while Donegal Town is 45 minutes drive and Letterkenny just over an hour.

Map of Doon Fort

How to Use This Google Map: Click on the grey star at the top of the map and this map will be added to your Google Maps account. You can then view it on your phone or computer in Google Maps by clicking on the menu button, going to “Your Places” and selecting this map. We use these maps all the time as you can set out your itinerary ahead of time and quickly reference the saved maps.

 

 

 

History of Doon Fort

Although the exact date of construction has not been verified Doon Fort is believed to date back as far as the 5th Century. The fort is thought to have been occupied by both the Breslin and O’Boyle clans, some of the most prominent families in early medieval Donegal.

Doon Fort has been designated a National Monument which means its preservation is a matter of national importance and the GAP Heritage and History Group is responsible for its conservation.

Doon Fort Donegal

Doon Fort

 

Other sights to check out near Doon Fort

Rossbeg Strand and Portnoo/Narin Beach are both less than 15 minutes away from Doon Fort.

Doon Fort Donegal

Rossbeg

Doon Fort Donegal

Portnoo/Narin

Doon Fort Donegal

Portnoo/Narin

Another historical site, the Kilcooney Dolmen, is located a few minutes drive from Doon Fort.  It is one of the most spectacular Dolmens in Ireland and is believed to date back as far as 3,000 BC.

Doon Fort Donegal

Kilcooney Dolmen

About Us

 

Your Irish Vacation aims to give you the best itineraries and guides to make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Your Ireland Vacation

 

Helping you make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Grianan of Aileach Donegal: Ireland’s Mysterious Hill Fort

Grianan of Aileach Donegal: Ireland’s Mysterious Hill Fort

Grianan of Aileach Donegal: Ireland’s Mysterious Hill Fort

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in our disclosure policy.

Grianan of Aileach is a picturesque stone fort located atop Greenan Mountain in Donegal. Dating back to 1700 BC, those who visit the ancient site are offered both a fascinating glimpse into Irish history and the opportunity to enjoy some magnificent views from atop the restored fort.

We’ve stopped by Grianan of Aileach many times during our Ireland travels and wanted to share our love for one of Donegal’s hidden gems!

Grianan of Aileach Donegal

Grianan of Aileach

 

Grianán of Aileach

Grianan of Aileach is a restored stone fort which sits atop Greenan Mountain in Innishowen in County Donegal. The site itself dates back to 1700 BC and is believed to predate the construction of the stone fort which followed sometime around the 8th or 9th Century.

The original stone fort was destroyed and rebuilt over the centuries and the fort, as it stands today, was reconstructed in the 1870s by local resident Dr Walter Bernard. During his restoration work Dr Bernard unearthed artifacts including animal bones and stone items which supported the belief that the ring fort dates back to Early Christianity.

 

Visiting Grianan of Aileach

After parking in the adjacent car park, the entrance to the fort is a short walk up to the hilltop. Both parking and entry to the fort are free.

The interior of the fort is accessed via a single doorway at the front of the fort. Walking into the center of the stone fort, we tried to imagine what once took place in the historical site.

The walls of the fort are 5 metres tall and the easy climb along the three tiers of the internal walls leads to spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. We were lucky enough to visit on a clear day and we spent at least half an hour enjoying the beautiful views.

Grianan of Aileach

Grianan of Aileach

 

The views from Grianán of Aileach

Although only 250 metres above sea level the views from Grianan of Aileach are remarkable. A climb to the top of the fort is rewarded with panoramic views across three counties, namely Donegal, Derry and Tyrone. The rugged Innishowen Peninsula and the waters of Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle are also among the highlights.

Grianan of Aileach Donegal

The views are spectacular

 

The History of Grianán of Aileach

Historically, Grianan of Aileach is a very important site and much legend and fact surrounds its past. The translation of its name is believed to have referred to a ‘Stone Temple in the Sun’ or the ‘Stone Palace with the Sunny View’.

Once a royal fortress of the northern Ui Néill dynasty, the current fort was restored in 1870 having been destroyed multiple times since its construction. In the 900s it was plundered by Vikings who had settled at Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle. Later, in 1101, the reigning King of Munster instructed his army to ravage the site.

Irish folklore attributes the fort to Dagda, the God and King of the Tuatha De Danann, a supernatural race. Dagda built the fort to surround the grave of his son who was killed by a jealous chieftain. The fort was mapped in its current location by a second century Greek geographer Ptolemy of Alexandria who described it as a Royal Residence.

It is believed that Ireland’s patron saint, St Patrick, visited Grianan of Aileach in the 5th century and performed a baptism there. A well dedicated to St Patrick stands on the outer banks of the site today and some consider it to have healing powers.

Grianan of Aileach Donegal

The Grianan of Aileach ancient site

 

How to get to Grianan of Aileach

Grianan of Aileach is an easy 20-minute drive west from Derry.

The easiest route to the hilltop fort car park is by taking the N13 road, the main Derry to Letterkenny road, heading west from Derry town. The fort is around 2.5 km off this road at the town of Burt. The turn-offs are well signposted along the way.

Visitors can drive up the narrow road to the small car park which is located very close to the fort at the top of the hill. From the car park, there is a short walkway that leads up to the fort. A ramp follows the path of the walkway allowing wheelchair and stroller access to the site.

If the site is closed when you visit it’s also possible to park at the entrance by the main road as there are spaces to pull in. From here you can hike the 1km up to the fort.

 

 

 

Grianan of Aileach Opening Hours and Tickets

Grianan of Aileach is managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW) who protect and maintain heritage sites across Ireland.

The Grianan of Aileach site is typically open from 10am to 6:30pm from March/April through to summer. The site closes at 3:30pm during off peak months.

The opening hours are not published online so they may vary

Entrance to Grianan of Aileach and parking at the site are both free.

 

About Us

 

Your Irish Vacation aims to give you the best itineraries and guides to make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Your Ireland Vacation

 

Helping you make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Visiting Arranmore Island, Donegal: Ultimate Guide (2020)

Visiting Arranmore Island, Donegal: Ultimate Guide (2020)

Visiting Arranmore Island, Donegal: Ultimate Guide (2020)

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in our disclosure policy.

Arranmore Island, or Árainn Mhór, is a tiny island located 5km off the coast of Donegal in Ireland. Still very much a hidden gem for visitors to Donegal, Arranmore is beautiful, wild and rugged. Having visited Arranmore many times, we’ve put together this guide for anyone planning a trip to this unique part of Ireland. We’ve included how to get there, where to eat and our favorite things to do in Arranmore Island.

Arranmore Island Donegal

Epic views on Arranmore Island

 

History of Arranmore Island

Arranmore Island is the largest inhabited island of Donegal and is located 5km off its west coast. Arranmore is part of the stunning Wild Atlantic Way route, a 2,600km coastal driving route which stretches from Donegal to Cork. The picturesque island is one of the most remote places in the country and one of the most unique places to visit.

The island has been inhabited since pre-Celtic times although most of the population had to leave the island due to eviction and famine during the Great Famine of the mid-19th century. In the past, the island relied on fishing as its main industry but today tourism is one of the main pillars of the economy. During the summer months, the population more than doubles in size due to the number of holiday homes on the island.

Arranmore Island is part of the Donegal Gaeltacht and the majority of the island residents speak Irish.

Arranmore rose to internet fame in 2019 when a campaign to get people to relocate to the island, aptly called “The Island”, went viral around the world. With the population at an all time low of 469, an open letter was issued to the US and Australia to encourage relocation to Ireland’s first offshore digital hub!

 

 

How to get to Arranmore

The only way to access Arranmore is by ferry which leaves from the port town of Burtonport in Northwest Donegal. The ferry takes foot and car passengers the 5km across the Atlantic to the Arranfery ferry terminal.

Burtonport is around an hours drive from Letterkenny and only 25 minutes from the beautiful Carrickfinn Airport which operates flights from Dublin daily..

Arranmore Island Donegal

Burtonport Harbour

 

Arranmore Island Donegal

The Arranmore Ferry

 

Ferry to Arranmore

The ferry journey from Burtonport to Arranmore Island takes around 15 minutes and there are 6 crossings from Burtonport per day. The ferry can take any type of car and holds up to 96-foot passengers. There is a 10% discount for booking in advance online but we usually just turn up on the day.

If you have a ticket for a crossing or plan to take the ferry it’s always worth checking the ferry is running on the day. The crossing is very well protected from the open sea so the ferry runs in all but the most severe seas.

When boarding the ferry, car passengers have to reverse their cars down the slipway at the port and onto the small ferry boat. There are ferry crew on hand to guide you onto the boat (they are absolute pros at helping people to park cars – trust us!) but once the crew have you in position it’s just a matter of turning off your engine and waiting to set sail!

Arranmore Island Donegal

The Arranmore Ferry at Burtonport

The crossing is usually very smooth as the ferry route is protected by the many small islands between the mainland and Arranmore. The ferry takes a route between the larger islands of Inishcoo to the north and Rutland Island in the south. The crossing is incredibly scenic and the day we visited Arranmore the sea was so still it was like a sheet of glass.

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The crossing from Burtonport to Arranmore

 

Arranmore Island Donegal

It’s a beautiful crossing to Arranmore Island

 

Driving on Arranmore Island

As most people visiting Arranmore will be driving a car it’s probably worth mentioning what it’s like to drive on the island. As one would expect, most of the roads on the island are small single lane roads and some are through exposed bog areas.

As a result, care should be taken when driving on the road as you can come across unexpected dips and rises in the road.

Visiting Arranmore Island tip: As most of the roads are narrow and barely allow two-way traffic you will likely have to pull in at some stage, either to park or to allow traffic past. Be very careful pulling in on the edge of the roads. Many areas are peat/bogland so the roadside can be very soft. You could easily get stuck in the soft ground or on the sudden drop-offs. We had no issues as we are used to driving on Irish roads, however, it’s worth noting if you’re just visiting Ireland!

 

Things to do on Arranmore Island

Despite its relatively small size, there are lots of things to do on Arranmore Island that make it worth the trip on the ferry!

Map of Things to do on Arranmore

We’ve put together this map of everything to do in Arranmore Island

How to Use This Google Map: Click on the grey star at the top of the map and this map will be added to your Google Maps account. You can then view it on your phone or computer in Google Maps by clicking on the menu button, going to “Your Places” and selecting this map. We use these maps all the time as you can set out your itinerary in advance and quickly reference the saved maps

 

 

1 | Arranmore Lighthouse

One of the first stops when you get off the ferry should be the Arranmore Lighthouse located on the north-west of the island. It’s a scenic 15-minute drive from the Arranmore ferry terminal. While the grounds of the lighthouse are off-limits to the general public, the views are amazing from the surrounding area.

There is a nice hike along the headland if you follow the wall north of the lighthouse. The hike is unmarked so you’ll need to be careful as there are sheer drops off the edge of the high cliffs.

Due to its strategic location the lighthouse was used as a World War II outpost and as a lookout point for U-boats. For anyone who wants to spend some time on Arranmore visitors can book at a stay at the lighthouse on AirBnB here. With 3 bedrooms the lighthouse can accommodate up to 6 guests and it’s one of the most unique places to stay in Ireland.

Book your stay now!

Arranmore Island Donegal

Arranmore Lighthouse

 

2 | Old Lighthouse Steps

The unique Old Lighthouse steps are an Arranmore icon. The steps led from the headland beside the lighthouse down to the water. These amazing steps are carved into the rock and allowed the lighthouse crew to access rescue boats in the waters below.

Arranmore Island Donegal

The Old Lighthouse Steps are stunning

Although they are not used today, visitors to Aranmore can still check out the steps. If you are brave enough you can even walk down them!

Arranmore Island Donegal

The steps from the sky!

Visiting Arranmore Island tip: walking down the old Lighthouse Steps is quite dangerous so please take care when visiting. Don’t attempt the walk down them if you have a fear of heights as there are sudden drops and open cliff edges. Parts of the steps are steep and the old hand railings are now gone so you’ll need to take care.

Arranmore Island Donegal

The steps are incredible from above

 

How to get to the Old Lighthouse Steps in Arranmore

To find the top of the steps, follow the wall adjacent to the lighthouse that leads down the hill towards the sea cliffs. Once you get to the end of the wall you’ll see the narrow concrete walkway across the top of the cliff rocks. Make sure to walk on this as it’s the path that leads down to the steps to the water. It can be tricky and dangerous to find the steps if you don’t follow the path from the top.

While it’s an adventure climbing down the steps the best view of them is actually from the cliffs just to the south of the steps.

 

2 | Arranmore Cliffs

The Arranmore Cliffs are visible from the narrow road that leads to the Arranmore Lighthouse. There are lots of opportunities to pull in off the road to look at the cliffs and there’s also a few benches to sit and relax and drink in the epic views.

Visiting Arranmore Island tips: the area along the road here is open to the sea and the fields have no protection to the cliffs that overhang the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors should be careful and not get too close to the cliff edge especially if you have younger kids. You don’t need to get close to the edge to experience the views anyway!

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Taking in the views of the Arranmore Cliffs

 

3 | Beaver Island Monument / Marian Shrine

The people who lived on Arranmore Island were very badly affected by the Irish Potato Famine in the mid-1800s and the population of the island was decimated as a result. Many fled during the famine and a large number of those who moved across the Atlantic settled on Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. The Beaver Island monument commemorates those who were forced to flee the island and the ties between the two islands which continue to this day.

You can’t miss the Beaver Island monument in the small lake on the side of the narrow road to the Arranomre Lighthouse.

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The Beaver Island memorial

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It’s a long way to Beaver Island

 

 

4  | Enjoy Old Ireland

There are very few places that are as untouched as Arranmore Island. Simply driving around the island and taking in the incredible views is worth the trip. While life on Arranmore has moved with the times, there are many parts of the island where it feels like a step back in time. Take your time, explore the random stops and beautiful views the island has to offer.

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Arranmore Island is stunning

Arranmore Island Donegal

Cutting the turf in Arranmore

 

 

5 | Take a Hike

If you have the time, the best way to explore Arranmore is by hiking  around the island. The Arranmore Island Loop is a national way marked trail. At around 14 km it would take most visitors around a full day to hike.

Arranmore Island Donegal

Arranmore

Arranmore Island Donegal

Arranmore

 

 

6 | Enjoy food and a pint in Early’s Bar

A trip to Arranmore is not complete without a stop for some food and a drink in Early’s Bar. After a busy day exploring everything the island has to offer its hard to beat an very Irish snack involving a pint Guinness and a cheese toasty! There’s also great traditional music here most weekend evenings. If it’s a nice day when you visit you can enjoy your meal on the outdoor terrace.

Early’s is situated right beside the Arranmore ferry so you won’t have far to go to catch the boat back to the mainland.

 

8| Check out some of the best dive spots in Ireland

Arranmore is home to some of the best diving spots in Ireland and there are sea safaris around the island. Trips leave from Burtonport

 

9 | Consider moving to Arranmore Island

Arranmore Island went viral in the USA in 2019 when the island put out a public appeal seeking people to move to the island. This followed the installation of a new broadband line directly to the island. The campaign brought in enquiries from all over the world with people looking to move to the Island.

The island is seeking residents from the USA and Australia who is willing to work remotely from this incredible location!

Arranmore Island Donegal

The new office!

About Us

 

Your Irish Vacation aims to give you the best itineraries and guides to make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Your Ireland Vacation

 

Helping you make the most of your trip to Ireland