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The Rosses, Gaoth Dobhair and Cloughaneely... A World Apart

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The Rosses, Gaoth Dobhair and Cloughaneely... A World Apart
And now the rugged Rosses and Gaoth Dobhair beckon. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty, of purple heather covered mountains; lake filled valleys and a coastline blessed with countless sandy beaches. These beaches, quiet and tranquil, are washed daily in the clean unpolluted waters of the Atlantic Ocean. With over 130 lakes and a myriad of rivers to fish, some of Ireland’s famous sea trout and salmon waters are here to challenge the visiting angler. From An Clochan Liath (Dungloe) of the love song about Mary and its famous family festival to the bridge at Croichshlí (Crolly) of the dolls, this is a world apart.

Along the coast road, use the car ferry to Oileán Árainn Mhóir (Aranmore Island) from Ailt A’ Chorráin (Burtonport), or travel North-West to Gaoth Dobhair (Gweedore), situated between Mount Errigal and An Bun Beag (Bunbeg), with its beautiful beaches. This area is home to some of Ireland’s most famous musicians, such as Enya, Clannad, Altan and Daniel O’Donnell, whose unique and original sounds have no doubt been influenced by Donegal’s heritage, stunning scenery and culture. Why not visit Croithshlí (Crolly) and stop in Leo’s Tavern, the family pub of the famous singer Enya and group Clannad. If Irish traditional music is not your cup of tea then a short drive will bring you to Cionn Caslach (Kincasslagh) where you can stay and relax in The Viking House Hotel, once owned by Daniel O’Donnell.

Take a boat from Bunbeg and visit the islands of Tory, Gola, Inis Meáin or Inisbofin or play a relaxed game of golf on the scenic course at Gaoth Dobhair or on Oileán na Cruite (Cruit Island), near Aerfort Idirnáisiúnta Dhún na nGall (Donegal International Airport). There are regular, daily ferryboat services from Bunbeg Pier to Tory and its rugged beauty. Two-and-a-half miles long and just three-quarters of a mile wide, Tory derives its name from the high pinnacle cliffs eroded by the battering swells of the Atlantic Ocean. This island has been inhabited since the age of Neolithic Farmers, some 4,000 years ago. Legend has it that Tory was once occupied by a pirate race whose God-Chief was Balor, the giant with the evil eye. The Round Tower and the Tau Cross of St. Columbkille on Tory still survive. The sea is a dominant theme in the powerful paintings of Tory Islanders and their work has been exhibited around the world, and everywhere you go the living Irish Language is all around you.

Back on the mainland meander along the coast again to breathtaking Cnoc Fola (Bloody Foreland), or turn inland through the mystic mountains of Dun Lúiche (Dunlewey), with its impressive Ionad Cois Locha (Lakeside Centre) and nearby is the scenic Poison Glen on the way to another jewel in Donegal’s crown - Glenveagh National Park, Castle and Interpretative Centre. Head northwards now through Muckish Gap to An Fál Carrach (Falcarragh), a strong market town, where every Friday, the colourful stalls are set out for trading.

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