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A weekend in County Donegal

This post, the sixth in a series of 32 covering the entire island, offers a few ideas for things to do on a weekend in Country Donegal. The following is just one sample itinerary based on the information in our book Exploring Ireland: a guide to the Irish outdoors, where you will find plenty more details, ideas and inspiration.

WALK LENAN LOOP

A 1.5km trail (green arrows) that loops across the steep hillside just south of Lenan beach. A longer version of this walk is the 6.5km Urris Lakes Loop (purple arrows).

EXPLORE TORY ISLAND

Lying 11km off the coast, Tory Island is Ireland’s most remote inhabited island. It is exposed to the full fury of the Atlantic and is often cut off during winter storms. The island is stark and treeless with some very impressive sea cliffs. The island is compact; a mere 4km long and never more than 1.5km wide, so is easily explored on foot. There is plenty to see including a number of  fascinating historical and mythological sites such as a round tower that once protected monks from Viking raids, the ruins of Saint Colmcille’s 6th century monastery and an intriguing Tau Cross which suggests early seafaring links to ancient Egypt. At the eastern end of the island is the remains of a promontory fort known as Dún Balair (55.2602, -8.1941). Located on the highest part of the island the fort is accessed via a narrow strip of land and is surrounded by some of the most spectacular rock architecture on the coast of Ireland, including sea stacks, ridges and arches. In terms of accommodation there is a hotel and a number of B&Bs. The ferry leaves from Magheroarty (55.1463, -8.1752) and the crossing takes 45 minutes.

VISIT GLENCOLMCILLE FOLK VILLAGE

A cluster of beautiful thatched cottages that serve as a reminder of how locals used to live in the past. Each cottage is furnished to a particular theme.

EAT KINNEGAR BREWING

This brewery in Letterkenny brews an extensive range of beers that are available across the country. They offer brewery tours on Thursday evenings and occasionally on Wednesdays and have just opened their own taproom.

STAY LOUGH MARDAL GLAMPING

Set on the shore of Lough Mardal, about 20 minutes drive south of Donegal Town. There are five yurts (sleeping up to 2 adults plus 2 kids) and a shepherd’s hut (sleeps 2) for hire spread across the 36 hectare site, but the centrepiece is the lodge, which houses the kitchen, toilets and a large space to relax in. The amazing circular building has a round‑timber structure topped with a mesmerising reciprocal roof and strawbale walls plastered with lime, showcasing a number of fascinating eco‑building techniques.

The above list reflects just a tiny fraction of the information in Exploring Ireland which has details of over 1700 things to do and places to see across the entire island of Ireland.