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Welcome to our Blog post “10 Best Places To Visit In The North Republic Of Ireland”
To avoid confusion, this is not to be confused with another of our posts “10 Must See Places To Visit In Northern Ireland” as N.Ireland is a separate country with different currency and characteristics. This is strictly regarding The North Of Ireland, which is mainly Donegal & Sligo. Thank you and here’s the article!
1. Malin Head
Malin Head is the most Northerly part of the island of Ireland, and is located on the Inishowen peninsula in County Donegal. its name is taken from the Seas that surround it, the Malin Sea. The Northern most tip is called Banba’s Crown is named after the mythological patron goddess of Ireland.
At low tide, you can spot the wreckage of ‘Twilight’ which sank in 1889 on its way to Derry. You can walk along the cliffs to ‘Hell’s Hole’, a chasm where waves rush in with tremendous force. There’s also an abandoned Radio Station & a weather station, plus the Head is an ideal vantage point to view the Autumnal of Seabirds such as Gannets, Shearwaters, Skuas, Auks & others as they make their way to their southern migration flight.
Several scenes from the movie “Your Highness” of 2011 were shot on Errigal and in the 2008 film “Hunger” the main protagonist Booby Sands describes the mountain as a “beautiful sight”
2. Horn Head
Horn head is a peninsula in Donegal North West Ireland, close to Dunfanaghy. It forms part of Sheephaven Bay. The cliffs rise straight out the ocean about 600 feet high (180 m) on the peninsula’s ocean side. Horn Head Cliffs are a very important colony of breeding seabirds. The European Shag & The Razorbill are just two species of Seabirds that thrive on the cliffs.
It is designated as an Irish National Heritage Area, a special protection area & a special area of conservation by the Irish Government.
Horn Head as two ‘lookout towers’, one from the Napoleonic times and one from world war ll, both giving views of the Atlantic Ocean & of Tory Island.
3. Tory Island
8 Miles off the North West coast of Donegal County and is the most remote inhabited island in Ireland. Tory Island or simply ‘Tory’ has spectacular cliff scenery, combined with a rich history related to the islanders distinctive Gaelic. Locals speak Irish fluently, so it’s always an idea to try to learn some Gaelic before you arrive.
The islanders elect a ‘King’, who speaks for the community. He will be the friendly face that greets you when you arrive on the Island.
The Island has a tradition of Irish Music & Culture and you’ll find bars & pubs with lively sessions taking place. You’ll also hear local tales of Shipwrecks, smugglers & violent storms, that all add to the magical folklore of the Island!
4. Glenveagh Castle & National Park
The Glenveagh National Park covers 65 sq Miles of hillside above Glenveagh Castle on the shore of Lough Veagh, in County Donegal, and we recommend taking some time out to visit both of these wonderful attractions. The Park is the second largest National Park in Ireland. The network of mainly informal gardens displays a multitude of exotic plants from as far as Chile & Tasmania. The park is also home to the largest herd of Red Deer in Ireland and the once threatened Golden Eagle were introduced in 2000.
The Glenveagh Castle was built-in 1873 by Captain John George Adair. It stands within the boundaries of the National Park and was built in the Scottish Baronial style, with a four storey rectangular keep, surrounded by a garden, against a back drop of 40,000 acres of Glens, woodlands, mountains & glens.
- Address: Churchill, Letterkenny.
- Location: 24 kilometers north-west of Letterkenny. Kilmacrennan/Termon to Dunlewey road, or the Churchill to Dunlewey road.
- Opening Hours: March to Early November: Daily:10.00-18.30. Last admissions 17.00.
- Castle tour: Euro2.75-adults; 2.00- Senior Citizens; 1.25-Students/children.7.00- Family.
- Bus to Castle: Euro2.00 Euro per adult. 1.00 concession.
- Garden and Parkland access: Free of charge.
- Visitors Centre: free exhibitions, information, and a 45 minute audio-visual presentation.
- Restaurants: Visitors’ Center and Castle Tea-room.
- Wildlife: Glenveagh National Park has reintroduced Golden Eagles, originally native to the area, and has a vast range of breeding bird life, as well as red deer, foxes, badgers, otters, goats and mountain sheep. Nature trails allow visitors explore the area.
5. Errigal Mountain
Errigal Mountain is a 2,464 feet high mountain near Gweedore in County Donegal, Ireland. Tallest peak of the Derryveagh Mountains (Called the seven sisters by locals) and the tallest peak in County Donegal.
Errigal was voted ‘Ireland’s most ‘iconic mountain’ by “Walking & Hiking Ireland” in 2009. It is well-known for its pinkish Quartzite glow in the setting sun.
The mountain is most often climbed from the car park off the R251 road. The route initially starts off by crossing heavily eroded and boggy land towards a visible track through the shiny scree from where the ascent proper starts. After reaching the summit, people usually walk the short but exposed walk along ‘One Man’s Pass’ which leads across to the second and lower of the twin summits. No special equipment is needed to climb the mountain, but caution is advised.
6. Arranmore Island
Arranmore Island is an Island off the West Coast of County Donegal, in Ireland. It’s the largest inhabited Island in Donegal County with 515 inhabitants (2011 census). The Island is part of the Donegal Gaeltacht (Areas that speak Gaelic) and most of the islanders speak Ulster Gaelic. It’s 3 miles off Burtonpoint shore on the mainland and is served by two ferries setting off from Burtonpoint and reaching Arranmore 15/20 minutes later.
The island is ‘twinned’ with Beaver Island, an island in northern Lake Michigan where a large number of former residents gathered after being evicted from Arranmore in the mid-1800s. There are still today a number of families on Beaver Island that trace their roots to Arranmore.
The Arranmore RNLI Station, with its Severn Class Lifeboat, is amongst the best equipped in the county.
7. Slieve League
The Slieve League Cliffs are named number one tourist attraction for County Donegal on Tripadvisor. That’s hardly surprising as the view from the summit is absolutely amazing. At 1927 feet the Slieve League as some of the highest cliffs in Ireland and although not as popular as The Cliffs of Moher, The Slieve League Cliffs are almost three times higher. Said to be one the foremost Marine Cliffs in the world.
Before arriving at the cliffs, you will find the Slieve League Cliffs Centre, a family run centre brimming with local history and culture. In the summer you’ll find music sessions and the craft-shop is full of local knitwear and artifacts. The guided walks are a pleasure, but you can hike the mountains alone if you want and there are some terrific views from the viewing points. Although to reach the summit, you have to pass a narrow pathway called “One Man’s Pass”, which it is advised only experienced fit walkers should attempt. For a gentler route, take the pathway from Bunglas to Malinbeg.
There are even ancient Monastic ruins, complete with Chapel & bee hive huts high up in the mountain. And a signal tower to warn of any French Invasion in the early 19th Century.
A fantastic way to feel free as the birds that inhabit the mountains!
8. Benwiskin Mountain
Benwiskin has the most stunning of profiles, often described as a breaking wave. This pearl of a mountain lies at the Northern end of a lengthy broad topped ridge, forming one leg of the Gleniff Horseshoe. Stunning views from the summit have to be seen to be believed. Once a hotbed of anti walker sentiment, Gleniff council now permits access to Benwiskin from a partly felled forest on its Eastern slopes.
Standing at 1,654 feet high (515 m) there are two options to climb Benwiskin. The easiest approach is from the south side via Luke’s Bridge. The second more challenging one is from the Gleniff Horseshoe. The walk along the escarpment is reasonably level and rises up gently to reach the highest point of day known locally as “The Cauldron”. The descent route will depend on which option chosen during the ascent.
This hike is recommended for it outstanding scenery and is steeped in history and romance. Evidence of past Barytes mining still exists and can be seen during the walk, which is often said to be moderately difficult.
For the more reserved, there’s a lovely drive along the Gleniff Horseshoe where you can take in the fantastic views.
9. Ben Bulben
Benbulben is known as County Sligo’s ‘Table Mountain’ and is part of the Dartry Mountain Range. The rock that formed the Mountain originated in the area 320 Million years ago.
It’s a well-known walking area that attracts several thousand visitors every year. But beware, the South side access is easy but the North side access is a dangerous climb as this side bears the brunt of high winds and storms from the Atlantic Ocean.Once at the summit which is 1726 feet, there are amazing views of County Sligo and the Atlantic Ocean.
Legend has it that the area was once the hunting ground of the Fianna, a band of warriors from the 3rd Century, who fought with giants and enchanted Boars!
10. Glencar Waterfall
Glencar Waterfall is set in the most enchanting of areas, beside the Glencar Lake 8 miles North of Sligo Town. The waterfall has a drop of 50 feet and naturally flows into the lake. The Waterfall’s claim to fame was when it was mentioned in Yeats’ poem “Stolen Child”. Many of Yeats’ fans visit the waterfall to view the place of his inspiration along with other areas of Sligo.
The falls are accessed by a lovely wooded walk and on site picnic facilities are provided. There are amazing views of this and other waterfalls. But the Glencar steals the show. The Glencar Lake nearby sits on the Sligo-Leitrim border and is a place of serene beauty not to be missed.
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