In this third part of our series of articles on the Wild Atlantic Way, we'll ride to the wild west of Donegal, to Glenkolumbkille and the cliffs of Slieve League.
You first follow the coastal roads from Dunfanaghy to Burtonport.
Numerous islands lie in front of the rugged coastline. Take your time to drive out the bays and headlands, then you will find the particularly beautiful places, such as the Crohy Head Sea Arch. A rocky outcrop in front of the cliff forms a spectacular arch there.
Glenkolumbkille is a special place. From the surrounding mountains you descend into the valley. From afar, there are breathtaking views of the coast.
The small former fishing village is embedded in the wild landscape: Mountains at the back, High cliffs and small sandy beaches, rocks everywhere and a bit of fertile land in between.
What is scenically beautiful to see today, was once mainly one thing: inhospitable and barren. Fishing was risky on this wild coast, and agriculture was not very profitable. There were many stones - and little bread.
It is all the more astonishing that people settled in this area already 3000 years ago! The name Glencolumbkille, however, is younger. It is derived from St. Columba, one of the three important Irish patron saints and the name originated in early Christianity, probably in the 6th century.
Until the 1950s, rural life in many areas of Donegal was characterized by unemployment and poverty - including here in Glenkolumbkille. Villages lacked electricity, running drinking water and sewage systems. Young people left their villages to find an income in the distant towns. As a result, the communities were aging more and more.
An enterprising Catholic priest, Father James McDyer II, founded several community initiatives to improve these conditions, which he did very successfully over the next three decades. He provided work, better living conditions and support from Dublin.
The Glenkolumbkille Folk Village was established in 1967 as a small tourist business to provide an additional source of income for the villagers.
It is an open-air museum with several thatched cottages that are faithful replicas of 17th, 18th and 19th century country houses. The cottages are furnished inside according to the period and tell about the life of the common people in their time.
The small village is very nice and interesting to visit. You can join a guided tour, or wander through the village on your own and see the cottages from the inside.
A small simple café provides the tired motorcyclist with warm soup and coffee and so strengthened it can continue along the wild coast:
A little further along the coast, on tiny roads, you reach Silver beach. A good parking lot, a beautiful view of the bright sandy beach, which is framed by the bay in the shape of a half moon and a long wooden staircase down to the beach - quite nice, you can have been there once! And then it can go on again...
The Cliffs of Slieve League:
Near Teeling you find the signposting to Bunglass Point. Even if the bike is rolling nicely, you should definitely find the brake and follow the signs:
The cliffs of Slieve League in County Donegal in the northwest of Ireland are among the highest cliffs in Europe with a height of over 600 meters. The mighty cliffs and the surrounding unspoiled nature, are one of the main attractions of Donegal. The cliffs can be seen from a high viewpoint, the Bunglass Point.
There is a parking lot at the foot of the cliffs and a second parking lot directly at the Bunglass Point viewpoint. From here you can admire the breathtaking cliff scenery.
In the deep waters near the cliffs, you can often see whale sharks (basket sharks), dolphins and sea lions. Boat tours are also available and there are exciting hiking trails to experience, such as the One Man`s Path.
Donegal is the main town of the county of the same name. Several hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses invite you to spend the night here. The harbor town is small, but nice and you can find several pubs with restaurants.
Donegal Castle is a small castle that was the seat of the Mc Donnell clan for a long time. Built in the 15th century as a Norman towerhouse, it was expanded into a nice castle in the 16th century. It can be visited and is beautiful to see inside and out.
And so another nice day of driving is coming to an end - but that doesn't matter, because tomorrow is another day of driving!
Click here for the next article:
Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg, April 2022
Picture credits: easycruiser.tours
Sources: www.wikipedia.org, www.ireland.com, www.discoverireland.ie, www.ireland.com, www.glenfolkvillage.com