Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Fáilte Ireland capital funding approved for development at Malin Head Ireland’s most northerly point along the Wild Atlantic Way

Fine Gael Minister Joe McHugh TD, today (Tuesday 15/12/2015) welcomed confirmation from the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring TD that over €396,000 will be awarded to Donegal County Council for a second phase in the development of visitor facilities at Malin Head.

Minister McHugh, “I am delighted that Phase II of the Malin Head project has been given the go ahead for works to commence. This work will include: Road widening to accommodate passing bays and associated drainage improvements and surfacing; Extending existing car park facilities to incorporate twenty one additional car and bus parking spaces; and the development of a new toilet block.

“Malin Head plays a key role along the Wild Atlantic Way as Ireland’s most Northerly Point, it is a priority location along the route and brings great benefits from tourism figures, which are on the increase. These works will enhance the experience by providing essential visitor facilities and present new opportunities for businesses and tours for individuals and groups at Malin Head.”

“Progress however, has not been thanks to any one group – it is a direct result of the community effort and buy in from the collective. I have worked closely with my colleague Councillor Bernard McGuinness on this project and trying to drive it forward. There has also been a great deal of drive from Donegal County Council to get the project off the ground, collaborating with Failte Ireland and working hard to secure this funding.”
Also welcoming today’s announcement, Fine Gael Councillor Bernard McGuinness, “Today is a very important day for Malin Head, but also for the Inishowen Peninsula. We have seen the increase in tourist numbers coming to visit this area and the developments that have been confirmed today are essential if we are to develop Malin Head into its full potential. I want to acknowledge the work and commitment of the whole community, who have ensured that this project was kept on the agenda of Failte Ireland and Donegal County Council.”

Following on from this Fáilte Ireland will be working closely with Donegal County Council on a Malin Head Experience Development Plan that will incorporate the wider Inishowen area. The plan is necessary because while Malin Head is recognised as the main attraction that will entice visitors up to the most northerly point of the island, the site in itself will not be sufficient to retain them for long. The extended ‘dwell time’ that is much sought after will actually be achieved by the range of ‘Supporting Experiences’ that exist and can be developed within the wider Inishowen Peninsula. Donegal County Council will work closely with Fáilte Ireland on this Plan to help ensure the area reaches its tourism potential.

The funding builds on Fáilte Ireland’s ongoing work to develop the Wild Atlantic Way and follows a recent announcement that photo markers and information points are being installed at all the discovery points along the route, including those in Donegal.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Showcasing Inishowen and the Northern Lights to Diaspora

Inishowen Tourism showcased the Inishowen Peninsula off  in style on the 18th & 19th of November.  Diaspora and Tourism professionals from many corners of the world travelled to Inishowen to participate in the two day familiarisation trip  ‘Come experience the Northern Lights’.

Photo courtesy of Adam Rory Porter

We welcomed  our Diaspora guests, Travel Writers, Tour Operators, representatives from Fáilte Ireland, and also Tourism Ireland. At the opening reception Minister Joe McHugh joined Siobhán Kelly, the Marketing Manager at Inishowen Tourism in welcoming everyone to the area. The evening proceeded with a fantastic presentation of the Northern Lights by Adam Rory Porter. Gerard O’Kane of Donegal Photo Tours, Mark McLaughlin a member of the Buncrana Camera Club and Brendan Diver of Photos from Ireland, were also present. The gentlemen gave a great insight into how to prepare for your hunting, what a equipment you’d need to capture the Aurora Borealis and where to find the essential information before heading out on your adventure.

Luck was on our side that night and all the factors indicated there was a great chance of an Aurora Borealis display. The KP was above 5 which meant there was a high possibility of capturing a glimpse of the Northern Lights with the naked eye. The entire group jumped on the bus and headed to Dunree Military Fort in the hope of seeing those Northern Lights dance through the Inishowen sky. Our Luck had left us on arrival to Dunree and due to cloud cover the Northern Lights were nowhere to be seen. However a great night was had by all and there was a great sing song on the bus on the way back to the hotel.

The following morning the group ventured on the Inishowen 100 route along the Wild Atlantic Way with an action packed itinerary around the Peninsula highlighting some of Inishowen’s most scenic views, hidden gems and also  experiencing the all round hospitality. To quote Liam Campbell, the manager of the International Publicity Team at Fáilte Ireland, Liam told us, ‘We have so many highlights of our stay but the most enduring was the natural and generous hospitality and warm welcome we received.’

Some of the Participants at the Diaspora event: Photo courtesy of Brendan Diver

The trip was concluded with a fantastic night of entertainment at the well renowned Celtic Feast at the An Grianán Hotel. Tourism trade in Inishowen and across Donegal and Derry were all invited to attend giving them an opportunity to network with the Diaspora and tourism professionals. Through the evening individuals learned the history surrounding the Grianán Fort through story, music and dance. While enjoying the entertainment a feast fit for a king was served.

The two day Diaspora event was a great success with all participants giving wonderful feedback on all aspects of their trip. They returned home inspired by Inishowen’s natural beauty, hospitality and with warm hearts from their enjoyable experience. We look forward to working alongside these tourism professionals in the near future creating itineraries to welcome new visitors to Inishowen.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Know Your Region- Failte Ireland team up with Tourism Industry providers to “Take a trip on the Wild Atlantic Way” - Part Two

Know Your Region- Failte Ireland team up with Tourism Industry providers to “Take a trip on the Wild Atlantic Way” - Part Two

 By Heidi Woods – Inishowen Development Officer

 In Part Two of the Know your Region Familiarisation Trips 2015 organised by Failte Ireland, Inishowen Tourism staff, take the opportunity to join other tourism industry counterparts to continue the journey around the County of Donegal.

 Day Trip Two

This is an opportunity to share “what to see and do” when you stay in Donegal.

The second day trip starts from Letterkenny and takes in Signature point two of the Wild Atlantic Way located at Fanad Head. For the purposes of a convenient meeting point to start the day trip, the Mount Errigal Hotel was the designated point for the group of participants to convene; listening to the local representative from Failte Ireland giving an overview of the benefits of the Wild Atlantic Way to the tourist industry. A particular update to this section ensued, and in general terms of the project for those that may not have been on the first trip.

As the journey starts in the morning leaving Letterkenny, the first port of call is the town of Ramelton via the R245.This Georgian historic town is situated at the mouth of the Lennon River where it enters the Lough Swilly. This location centralises a world-famous event; The Flight of The Earls from Kinnegar Beach in 1607 .The Heritage Centre in the town also has an impressive exhibition displaying the life and time of the Earls. There are several busy restaurants, pubs, self-catering cottages, shops, craft shops, hair salons, family activities and array of historical antiquities & attractions. Just over the other side of the river is “The Bridge Bar” one of the best music bars in the country.  It has a cosy restaurant with good food, and renowned for its excellent fish.

Friday, 6 November 2015

“Picture Perfect” in Inishowen

“Picture Perfect” 

Inishowen Photographer Brendan Diver was pleased to welcome world famous Russian photographer Elena Shumilova to host an elite master photography workshop here in the Inishowen Peninsula. The overwhelming response to her visit captivated interest from not just Ireland, participants attended from all corners of the globe; USA, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Russia, Latvia, Croatia, Romania, Moldova, Netherlands, Belgium and the UK. The event took place over the weekend 16-18 October, 35 photographers in total attended. Some of the participants were already very talented photographers in their own right, one of them won top photographer in the UK for 2014, and another actually photographs U2 on a regular basis.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Know Your Region- Part One

Know Your Region- Failte Ireland team up with Tourism Industry providers to “Take a trip on the Wild Atlantic Way” Inishowen Take the Day Trips and share the “Experiences”

 By Heidi Woods – Inishowen Tourism Development Officer

Since the launch of the “Wild Atlantic Way”, a major tourism initiative for the western seaboard in March 2014, interest in the long distance route has superseded expectations of the service providers and visitors alike. Tourist Offices such as Buncrana, here in Inishowen have seen a dramatic increase in visitor numbers during 2014, and furthermore during the first half of 2015. Inishowen Tourist Office has had a 34% increase in footfall in comparison to the same period in the previous year.

The Donegal section of the Wild Atlantic Way showcases 1,100 kilometres of coastline, and boasts the most Blue Flag beaches, a total of 13.

Bundoran, Rossnowlagh, Murvagh/Laghy, Fintra/Killybegs, Naran/Portnoo, Carrickfinn/Anagary, Killahoey/Dunfanaghy, Downings/Rosguill Peninsula, Magherwarden/Portsalon, Fanad, Lisfannon/Fahan, Shroove, Culdaff.  

Donegal has been described in Failte Ireland literature as “Untouched, off the radar and crying out for exploration”. Locals resonate that in terms of tourism, improvements in infrastructure as a gateway to the North “we are the forgotten county”. However, the WAW new route has finally highlighted an opportunity to discover the beauty of this county driving through some of the most picturesque areas in Ireland. It encapsulates rugged and remote iconic sights, in a region that is rich in archaeological content, steeped cultural tradition, expressed through music and language that expands the mind, body, and soul in Donegal.

‘Tis the season in Inishowen

For some Christmas may seem far away, but in Inishowen this November the festive season is beginning to come upon us. Across the peninsula there are many Christmas Craft fairs, the perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon browsing among all the unique products and perhaps picking up a few Christmas gifts along the way.

Inishowen is home to many brilliant Santa Experiences. Santa’s is very busy in the Isle of Doagh and Buncrana spreading the Christmas cheer while entertaining the whole family and presenting gifts to the little ones. With ample accommodation, some even make a weekend break for the family in the lead up to Christmas.

So if you are in the Inishowen area or plan to visit this November, be sure to check out some of the following:

v  Christmas Craft Fair – Sunday 15th Nov – Wee Hall, Culdaff
v  Christmas Craft Fair – Sunday 22nd Nov – Malin Head Community
v  Santa’s Island returns with a new purpose built visitors centre and improved facilities. Shows run from Saturday 21st November until Wednesday 23rd December, Doagh Famine Village, Isle of Doagh, Clonmany.
v   Santa will be switching on the lights at 7pm on Friday, the 27th November in Buncrana. The parade will be assisted by the Fire Service, and accompanied by Mrs Claus, the elves, Minions, Frozen, and some of everyone’s favourite Disney characters, with entertainment from Buncrana’s marching band among only some of the attractions
v  Launch night of Santa’s Kingdom at the Inishowen Gateway Hotel, Buncrana with Santa’s arrival, disco and photo opportunity with shows commencing on Saturday 28th through the lead up to Christmas –27th November at 7:30 PM
v  Christmas Craft Fair – Saturday 28th Nov – Carndonagh Girl’s School

v  Christmas Fair – Sunday 29th November – Inishowen Maritime Museum, Greencastle 

More details on November events in Inishowen – Click here

Friday, 23 October 2015

“Meet Our Members”- Familiarisation Trip around the Peninsula.

With the autumn season upon us, we take a brief moment to reflect on the summer season. Tourist Offices such as Buncrana, here in Inishowen have seen a significant increase in visitor numbers during the first half of 2015. Inishowen Tourist Office has had a 34% increase in footfall in comparison to the same period in the previous year.

Inishowen Tourism provides a range of services to members and visitors in the Peninsula. We have eagerly invested our human resources in meeting the needs of our members, and revised opening times this summer to be “open” for visitors in terms of promoting “things to see and do” when you visit. There have been direct benefits from investing in the current wave of activity, and building on the potential of “The Wild Atlantic Way” project.

Inishowen Tourism has spent a busy summer meeting and greeting, with face to face contact in the office, and marketing promotion through online and offline channels. One of the key goals set for the summer was to meet with our members, and get real insight into both their individual tourism businesses, location, and surrounding area (points of interest, cultural or historical context). This would allow our staff to inform prospective visitors on “what is on offer” here in Inishowen with greater clarity and enthusiasm, with real experience of it.

Having a wide variety of members that specialise in attractions, activities, accommodation and food, we decided to divide the Peninsula into areas to be covered within day trips, this would include the highlights of the particular area. All members on the day trips informally provided key information from their perspective, and kindly invited us into their home or business to learn more.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Inishowen Welcomes Silverdale Coaches

On Sunday 4th of October, Buncrana welcomed a tour of over forty visitors from Nottingham, England. The tour was organised by Silverdale Coaches in conjunction with Inishowen Tourism. The relationship between Silverdale Coaches and Inishowen Tourism was established after members of Inishowen Tourism, Donegal Tourism and local councillors attended the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Nottingham. Thus, a reciprocal visit was organised. Another important factor that helped facilitate this event was due to the owner of Sliverdale Coaches; John Doherty was originally from the Inishowen area.  During their stay in Inishowen at the Inishowen Gateway Hotel the visitors;
  •  Enjoyed a guided tour around the Inishowen Peninsula taking in some of its most scenic and majestic views along The Wild Atlantic Way/Inishowen 100 route,
  • Visited the Donegal County Council chamber along with a morning reception with some of its members,
  • Day trip to the Daniel O’Donnell Centre in Dungloe,
  • Quality time exploring Buncrana and its surrounding area, 
  • Tour of Derry and shopping

Overall, the visitors from Nottingham had an enjoyable trip to the area and could not praise enough the helpful staff at the hotel and the friendliness of the Inishowen people. We look forward to seeing them and Silverdale Coaches return here in the near future.

Friday, 2 October 2015


On the 17th and 18th of October 2015 Brendan Diver from Photos from Ireland will host the world famous Russian photographer Elena Shumilova as she presents her first ever European photography workshop which will take place in Ballyliffin, Clonmany, Co. Donegal.

Elena is to the world of photography as what Michael Flatley is to Irish dancing, Elena has over 60 million followers online and is considered by many to be in the top eight children’s portrait photographers in the world. 

An additional thirty five photographers are flying into Ireland and travelling to Donegal to be with Elena for the weekend, each and every one of them in their own right classified as a world class photographer. Some of the countries that they are flying in from are the USA, Poland, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Romania, Moldova and the UK.  Elena has been asked to give workshops all over the world and we are thrilled that Inishowen host this major international event.

This special event provides a platform future photography workshops. With thirty five world class photographers flying back to their countries and sharing their beautiful images, this will surely put Donegal on the international photography map.

 Brendan Diver

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

“On the Crest of a Wave”

Embrace in the opportunity of a lifetime in a journey;

Explore “The Wild Atlantic Way” in the Northwest!

  • Exploring Donegal’s rugged coastline and attractions
  • Experiencing history, mythology and traditional Irish Culture
  • Enjoying Irish hospitality in family run hotels, B&B/Guesthouses
  • Engaging with traditional Irish folktales and music along the way 
To really experience Ireland you need to feel it – the land, the rain, the bursting rays of sunlight that change in a heartbeat, but most of all, its ability to permeate the core of your entire being. This is a country that cannot be rushed, and exploring it with a combination of driving, walking, cycling, and climbing is one of the best ways to experience it. This allows you the opportunity to meet the locals, unfold thousands of years of history and understand what makes Irish people so unique. Choosing the Inishowen Peninsula as the starting point in the Northwest, the journey of a lifetime begins.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Inishowen Showcases - The Lands of Éogain Festival 2015

Inspired by unique connections The Lands of Éogain Festival 2015 is the first of its kind here in Inishowen. The festival forms part of National Heritage Week. It hosts an opportunity of a lifetime to celebrate our rich heritage in collaboration with The Bernician Studies Group, a lifelong learning community from Newcastle, England. The BSG will present findings of their recent work. A number of experts will give short presentations detailing aspects of their discoveries and progression within the peninsula. The BSG first came to do research in Inishowen in 2012.Excavation proved that one of three monastic sites uncovered was founded in the time of St Columba (521-597).

Friday, 14 August 2015

Celebrating Traditional Music in Inishowen

Blog by Heidi Woods- Tourism Development Officer
Traditional music can be traced back to almost two thousand years ago when the Celts arrived in Ireland. They brought with them, among other skills and crafts, music. Having been established in Eastern Europe since 500BC, the Celts were undoubtedly influenced by the music of the East, and indeed, it is speculated that the Irish Harp originated in Egypt. While travelling to Ireland, the Celts left their mark on the musical cultures of Spain and Brittany (Northern France) as well as in Scotland and Wales. However, it is here in Ireland that the tradition has evolved and survived that inhabitants and visitors alike gain pleasure from.
Traditional Irish Music is celebrated today throughout the world. However, it is a special experience to immerse in the atmosphere of this, an oral tradition. Its prolific nature can be enjoyed in the most authentic way in local pubs, community centres and impromptu venues here in Ireland. Inishowen is home to some of the most talented musicians that practice the tradition during both their work and leisure, as well as during religious activities and commemorations.
In days gone by traditional music and melodies took many forms in reducing the boredom of repetitive tasks, it kept the rhythm during synchronized pushes and pulls, and it set the pace of many activities such as planting, weeding, reaping, threshing, weaving, and milling. In leisure time, singing and playing musical instruments were common forms of entertainment and history-telling.
Traditional music in the peninsula is still very much alive as one of the many cultural activities offered. From the shop selling handmade wares, (Glendowan Crafts at Clonmany), visitors can browse, and then listen to the traditional local music on a Sunday afternoon. The image of the “wooden fiddler” is situated in the music room alongside the craft shop. This cosy meeting place with open fire and hearty welcome for all who play their instruments and those wishing to listen. Alternatively join the throng of voices, hustle and bustle of the pub atmosphere. Locals and visitors are celebrating traditional scheduled or impromptu meetings all around the peninsula.

 Here's how one of Donegal’s most renowned fiddle players, Martin McGinley sums up what the fiddle means to him in an interview by Angela Fichter:
 "It's a companion--it gives a lot and demands a lot. It never stops and is a life's work. All over the world, for whatever reason, people just seem to relate to it--there's just something about it. The challenges that face this cultural tradition is what continues to restore Martin's faith in playing.
He quotes the old adage from John Doherty, "there's more in a fiddle than a man can know."
Although Donegal fiddle music is world-renowned for its unique sound and bowing styles, Martin points out that Donegal fiddle music is diverse and really about the differences between different areas of the county. Martin hopes part of his legacy will be to "leave some tunes behind" as he continues to work on developing original material.
County wide there are numerous locations that celebrate the art of legendary traditional music. Incorporating the concept of “Irish culture and heritage”, Events that celebrate music and dance with story-telling and historical content such as “A Taste Of Ireland” at the Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny and “The Celtic Feast” at An Grianan Hotel, Burt run throughout the summer.

The Traditional Music around the peninsula Calendar for 2015 starts:

An Grianan Hotel Celtic Feast, Shows on Sunday 19th of July, 30th of August, 25th of October, 2015. Prices are as follows: Adults €40, Child 10-12 €30, Child 6-9 €20, Child under 6 is Free.

Inishowen Gateway Hotel- Thursday 21:30 – late
The Drift Inn - Thursday 21:00- late
O’Flaherty’s Bar - Wednesday -21:30- late

Glendowan Craft Studio - Sundays 15:30-18:00 on 14th of June, 12th of July, 13th of September.
The Rusty Nail Bar- Sundays 17:00-19:00
McFeeley’s Bar – Friday 22:30- late
Sliabh Sneacht Centre, Drumfries – Wednesdays 16:30-19:00

CarndonaghPatisserie Pascal Cafe- Saturday 14:00-16:00pm
Culdaff – McGrory’s Bar Tuesday After 21:30
Moville – Rosatos – Saturday 22:30-late
Muff – IOSAS Centre- Friday 26th June, 24th July, 28th August, 25th September 18:30-20:30,  Price: €7   

On the Crest of a Wave: Donegal and the Wild Atlantic Way

The research explores what is the current service provision in a specific area on the “Wild Atlantic Way” (WAW) in County Donegal. The paper identifies those service providers that currently participate in the “visitor experience” on a section of the route Rossnowlagh to Slieve League Cliffs; one of the 3 iconic designated signature experiences in Donegal. This allows the researcher to obtain insight in relation to the status quo in the tourism product offering, whether registered or not with an affiliated body. These facts and feedback that relate to the small to medium business sector in tourism provide rich data for recommendations for a collaborative approach for a future sustainable development plan. In relation to the research both qualitative and quantitative analysis was carried out. Statistical analysis was also carried out using frequencies and percentages in order to examine trends among the participant’s responses. The launch of WAW by Tourism Ireland/Failte Ireland, offers a unique opportunity to Donegal. It may open the “flood gates”; allowing access to mainstream tourism, previously concentrated on the lower counties. The impact of the recession in Ireland and particularly the Northwest from 2008, has resulted in closure of many facilities; hotels, B&Bs and businesses in general. Regeneration in the tourism sector is imperative for Donegal to reach its potential, in terms of provision of services, employment and income. The introduction of the WAW is an inspiration for surrounding communities; a vision for a sustainable future. A review of the literature indicates that developing rural tourism and marketing through its stakeholders, Donegal will need to meet the emerging needs of independent travellers in terms of accommodation, activities, access natural resources, countryside and local culture. With the development of the Roadmap initiative “The WAW”, it is anticipated that the number of visitors will increase in Donegal. This will require additional accommodation and facilities. The overall aim of this study is to ascertain the current service provision for visitors, to identify gaps in the provision, and to make recommendations for further developments to support tourism providers, thereby enhancing “the visitor experience”.
Keywords Wild Atlantic Way, Rural Donegal, Service providers, Sustainable tourism, Collaboration.

LYIT hosting THRIC Conference – Leading the way forward in Sustainable Tourism

Blog by Heidi Woods Tourism Development Officer
Inishowen Tourism representatives Siobhan Kelly and Heidi Woods were pleased to attend the Annual Tourism and Hospitality Research in IrelandConference (THRIC) from 11 – 12 June. The conference was officially opened by Minster Joe McHugh TD on the morning of 11 June.  In conjunction with LYIT, RadissionBlu Hotel, Letterkenny, the Tourism College at Killybegs hosted the 11th Annual Tourism Conference 2015.The conference runs on an all-Ireland inclusion providing an annual opportunity for the dissemination and presentation of research facilitating the tourism sector including hospitality and culinary operations.

This year’s conference theme ‘CollaborativeSustainable Development - The Way Forward for Tourism’ featured over 35 research presentations and was addressed by four key note speakers from Ireland, Scotland, England and Spain. These speakers included, Mr Pat Mccann, Chief Executive of Dalata Hotel Group PLC, Dr Diane Dodd, Director of IGCAT (International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism), Barcelona, Ms Helen Campbell, Head of Global Brand and Customer Marketing, Visit Scotland, Professor Kevin Hannam, Professor of Tourism Mobilities at Leeds Beckett University.

Monday, 6 July 2015


Below is an article from the Why Donegal? site:

In the early 1800's, the townland of Urris on the Inishowen peninsula became an independent poitín republic for a three-year period.
The Urris Hills were often referred to as "The Urris Poitín Republic" and were considered an ideal place for poitín-making because the area was surrounded by mountains and only accessible through Mamore Gap.
It became the second republic in Europe, after France. With its proximity to the North, and over 40% of home-based distillers located in Inishowen, Derry provided a major market for the trade.
To protect their lucrative business, the locals barricaded the road at Crossconnell to keep out
The Red Coats enlisted look outs and guards who laid iron rods on the roads to detect visitors as far away as 5 miles. But in 1815, British forces attacked Urris Hills and brought three years of self-rule and freedom to an end.
Long considered an old-time drink throughout rural Ireland since 584 AD, poitín or poteen, gets its name from pota, referring to the copper pot traditionally used by distillers to make the powerful alcohol.
Though poitín was originally made for private consumption, it became an important source of income for fishing communities and was used to numb severe body aches from hard labour.
Irish monks even caught on and brought their distillation skills to the rest of Europe calling it "Uisce Beatha," meaning "Water of Life." The mispronunciation of the word Uisce, became Fuisce, meaning whiskey.
Though the drink was often sold, its humble beginnings in small homes would eventually become its strongpoint once it was outlawed in 1661, and then made illegal to distill without a license in 1760.
Still, the traditional homemade brew remained especially popular in County Donegal with poitín making happened throughout the county.
It was made with potatoes, malted barley, sugar beet, crab apples and other natural sweet starches as the base. From 1820-1880 it was made from malt, and afterwards, sugar was used. Four stone worth of sugar could make 3 gallons of the powerful drink.
Before distillation, a wash that concentrates and ferments the alcohol was heated by turf fire, which was believed to create a strong smoky flavour. For several days the fermenting liquid was then kept heated and carefully watched over.
In order to protect the illegal trade, Distilling poitín in windy weather was crucial because it prevented gardaí from detecting the wafts of smoke permeating the air.
Raids that occurred throughout the county and country eventually led distillers to store and hide poitín in clear glass bottles. While people tried to avoid the gardaí, they didn't forget to honor the fairies, as the first glass of a new batch was always poured out as an offering to them.
The Catholic Church eventually denounced distilling the powerful brew.
The local bishops in Raphoe (and Derry) once deemed poitín-making a sin only forgivable by a bishop.

Copy-write Why Donegal?

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

“Meeting the needs of the Visitor” Inishowen Tourist Office to open on Sundays

Inishowen Tourist Office continues to lead the way providing a valuable service to enhance the visitor experience here in the peninsula. Extending the opening hours from July 1st to meet the needs of the traveller, in terms of information and assistance is paramount to promote the excellent range of attractions, activities and landscape to explore. Whether it is face to face customer service assisting visitors plan their journey at the Buncrana office on a Saturday or Sunday, or updating those potential visitors online, Inishowen Tourism is proactive in their approach, and furthermore recognises that the tourism product is not based on a 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday programme of events.

The small business sectors are working irregular hours to support the tourism product here in the peninsula, and the team at InishowenTourism are responding to support both the members, and visitor expectations of a destination “open for business”. 

Tourism numbers have increased in Ireland, according to Failte Ireland. This rise is also reflected in the numbers of visitors within the peninsula since the launch of the “Wild Atlantic Way” in 2014. During the period January to April 2015, there has been a 40% rise in the footfall visiting the office compared to the same period last year. The two main market increases were from Germany, remarkably up by 117%, and US visitors by 104%.

Siobhan Kelly, Interim Marketing Manager at Inishowen Tourism stated, “Opening at the weekends, especially during the summer months, July and August, is about meeting the requirements of the visitor. The team are committed to showcase the peninsula as a "must see and explore destination” and therefore respond by “opening our doors” to suit the market we are serving”  she continued to say that 'there are only 2 other tourist offices in Co. Donegal opened on a Sunday and according to Failte Ireland's records only10 others throughout Ireland which are located in tourism hotspots like Dublin, Galway & Killarney. Sunday is a very important day for the domestic tourist who simply wants to jump into their car and go for a drive so we are opened and happy to assist.

Embracing all visitors’ needs both domestic and international, the travel advisors are more than happy to engage, and have specialist fluent speakers of our native language, French, and German. When planning a holiday or break away, visitors contact us online, or face to face at the weekend. With the introduction of the new opening times, Saturday 10am-5:30pm, Sunday 10am-4pm, office personnel are available to answer questions or give advice when other offices are closed, thus enhancing the customer service experience for the visitor. 

“Follow the Arts & Crafts Trail around Inishowen”

To say the words “Irish Crafts”, what would inherently come to mind? Possibly Hand knit Aran sweaters, Blackthorn walking sticks, or maybe a willow basket or patchwork quilt? Nowadays, the crafts of Ireland are so much more. For the discerning visitor to Inishowen, it is more fun to venture out and follow the trail around the peninsula. The craftsmen and women of Irish crafts began as far back as the Stone Age (some 5000 years ago) when designs of metalwork, baskets, and textile weaving, pottery and glass were created out of sheer necessity.

Monday, 29 June 2015

The Big Blue Box Volunteer Challenge – Wild Atlantic Way 2015

The Big Blue Box Volunteer Challenge is a unique fundraising cycle that took place June 5th- through 19th. The challenge passed through 35 towns along the Wild Atlantic Way route in Ireland. Starting in Moville, Co. Donegal travelling the west coast of Ireland to the south reaching Kinsale in Co. Cork.

Local representatives cycled from town to town with a Big Blue Box. When they reached each town or village, the local people of the particular community had the chance to place a symbolic item inside the box for the next town or village on route.

Ryan Tubridy broadcasting from Dunfanaghy along the Wild Atlantic Way

On Wednesday the 10th June some of the Inishowen Tourism Staff ventured from the office to Dunfanaghy in the hope of meeting Ryan Turbidy.  2FM Radio were broadcasting the Ryan Tubridy Morning Show live and we were hoping to meet the man himself and invite him to Inishowen.

In the second year of this discover Ireland Campaign instigated by Failte Ireland, the 2FM team broadcasted live from Westport, Rosses Point in Sligo and of course Dunfanaghy in Co. Donegal. Every year a new destination along the Wild Atlantic Way is picked and our aim was to get this show to Inishowen next year. On arrival to Dunfanaghy, in true Donegal style the locals and the weather welcomed the roadcaster and the 2FM Radio team with open arms. Ryan made every attempt to speak to the local children  and local business people, He was particularly interested on how the Wild Atlantic Way was having an impact on the area. The Locals spoke highly of the Wild Atlantic Way and have already seen an increase in visitors to the area. Ryan himself spoke very highly of the great tourism product in Dunfanaghy, participating in some activities himself and more importantly told all this listeners about his experience.

The Summer Solstice @ The Grianan of Aileach

Summer in the Northwest has begun in earnest; however the long clear evenings are already numbered. The Summer Solstice occurs depending on the shift of the calendar, sometime between June 20 and June 22 in the northern hemisphere. The summer solstice day has the longest period of daylight – except in the Polar Regions.

The solstice is also known as the birthday of the sun. Worldwide, interpretation of this event has varied among cultures, but most mark the event in some way with holidays, festivals, and rituals around the time with themes of religion or fertility. 

Malin Head Marine Tourism Launch

A warm welcome was extended at the launch of The Malin Head tourism project, celebrated at the community centre, Malin Head on Tuesday 16th of June. It was formally opened by Mayor Ciaran Brogan following speeches and brief overview of the project. This projects aim is to develop facilities at Malin Head which is the first designated iconic signature point of The Wild Atlantic Way. Pictured at the site viewing platform were Chairman of Inishowen Tourism, Johnny McGuinness, Interim Marketing Manager, Siobhan Kelly, and Councillor Bernard McGuinness.

Friday, 26 June 2015

REMINDER from Donegal County Council

Deadline for inclusion in the County Donegal Heritage Week Event Guide

Dear All,


National Heritage Week takes place from Saturday, August 22 to Sunday, August 30, 2015.  On-line registration is open at www.heritageweek.ie.  Thanks to all of you who have registered your event(s) already.  The deadline for inclusion in the printed countrywide guide has now passed but the County Donegal Heritage Office will compile the County Donegal ‘Heritage Week' Events Guide again this year.  The information submitted on-line to The Heritage Council will be used to compile the pocket-sized county booklet that has proved so popular in recent years.  In order to have your event included, please ensure that your event is registered on-line on the Heritage Week website by this Friday, June 26.

Heritage Week is an opportunity to raise awareness of County Donegal’s built, cultural and natural heritage and to obtain some free publicity for events that you are planning.  This year's theme is Ireland's Industrial and Design Heritage.  If your event can address this theme, then all the better.  Events should be free of charge throughout the week.  Where this is not possible, organisers are asked to offer special concession rates.  I hope that you will organise an event(s) for ‘National Heritage Week’.  Register your event and check the
www.heritageweek.ie website to avoid events clashing with one another.

If you have any questions regarding ‘Heritage Week’ in County Donegal, please do not hesitate to contact me.

With best regards,



Joseph Gallagher
Heritage Officer,
County Donegal Heritage Office,
Donegal County Council,
Station Island,
County Donegal

Telephone: (074) 917 2576

Friday, 19 June 2015

2015 Visitors Guide Launch/ Open Day

Inishowen Tourism welcomed new and existing members to their Open Day on Wednesday 13th of May. The Launch of the 2015 Visitor Guide enabled local business providers to meet the team at Inishowen Tourism and gain valuable insight of the service.

New Team members have come onboard at Inishowen Tourism this year. The open day presented the opportunity to meet and greet business members in a relaxed atmosphere over a cup of tea/coffee and scone. Pooling ideas, sharing visitor experiences that enhance the promotional activity along the Wild Atlantic Way in Inishowen were all themes to discuss with members. Good communication is paramount to ensure that the visitor is satisfied with our products and services, and that business member providing this valuable service is supported in terms of the current and future product offering. With this in mind, a feedback sheet was available on the day to encourage business members to express their concerns and put forward suggestions with a view to activating these, and research new areas for future development.

Friday, 5 June 2015


Thanks to Inishtrahull Face Book page for publishing the following story. Check out their page here.

For Centuries, Inishtrahull’s solidarity has been of great benefit to the Island’s resident Fairies.
As darkness falls, Inishtrahull has always been said to become a very different Island where Inishowen’s wee folk can still hold their charm away from watchful eyes. But it was not always so, after years of turmoil and strange happenings, the original Islanders eventually accepted the customs and values of the Fairies and learned to live in harmony with them by respecting their ways and traditions, they knew all too well the Wrath of the Leprechaun.

The long nights of winter mean more frolicking time for the fairies and it is then when their winter festivals become more visible from Inishowen with the majestic beauty of the Northern Lights dancing in the sky above Inishtrahull Island. They are very fond of Poitìn and Whiskey and they love to dance.
The lack of large trees and other cover on the Island meant that the Island’s Leprechaun’s took sanctuary beneath the ground and so they constructed a vast network of underground passages and caves on the Island with various small entrance and exit points, many of which are still clearly visible today and were avoided at all costs by the Islanders.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Heritage Week 2015 Registration Deadline June 7-2015

This years National Heritage Week takes place from Saturday, August 22 to Sunday, August 30, 2015.  In light of this  The Heritage Council will be producing a countrywide programme of events supported by both Fáilte Ireland and Local Authority Heritage Officers.  If you are a community organisation or event organiser you can register your event at www.heritageweek.ie and all events must be registered by Sunday, June 7 in order to be included in the National Heritage Week Event Guide.  For further information please contact Joseph Gallagher (Heritage Officer - Donegal Country Council), Telephone: (074) 917 2576; E-mail: heritage@donegalcoco.ie

Monday, 18 May 2015

“On the hoof” Ride Inishowen

Ireland is known as “the land of the horse”. There are three breeds of horse indigenous to the island of Ireland: The Irish draft, the Irish hunter, and the Connemara Pony. Inishowen boasts some of the best riding experiences a horse enthusiast could wish for. There is no better place to take to the hills, and reconnect with a bygone age. As the season begins, embark on a journey with a four-legged friend. There is an old saying that goes “there is no bond so close as that between a man and his horse”- and nowhere is this bond more treasured than within the InishowenPeninsula.

Enthusiasts can enjoy a tailor- made weekend, to suit their competence level; from first time novices to the more experienced rider. At a summer camp, children can enjoy fun and activities, wholesome food, and comfortable accommodation after bedding down their four-legged friends. With four main locations specialising in equestrian pursuits at Muff, Moville (registered Riding for the Disabled), Malin and Clonmany you are sure of getting a wide variety of Horse Riding Activities and facilities.