Set sail for the Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal on the west coast of Ireland. The Wild Atlantic Way is an epic journey of discovery along 2,500 km of Ireland’s beautiful coast on the Western seaboard and where better to start your adventure than in Donegal, the most Northerly County on the route with a breathtaking coastline ready to be explored. This is one amazing sailing route that you will never forget.
With local traditional heritage and culture, fantastic coastal landscapes and an array of festivals, restaurants and pubs serving local specialties including fresh fish and craft beers, entertainment and places to visit, Donegal ensures a wide choice to suite the varied needs of visitors. Ireland’s North West coast will enchant you, from stunning headlands and beaches to colorful villages and towns all infused with the history, heritage and tradition of the maritime communities that have lived here for centuries.
Donegal is becoming increasingly popular as a sailing destination with the recent opening of the new Small Craft Harbour in Killybegs. Traditionally a commercial fishing port, the largest in Ireland, Killybegs has now become a hub for marine tourism with increasing numbers of cruise ships and leisure yacht visitors arriving in port each year. Killybegs is definitely an excellent addition to your Wild Atlantic Way sailing itinerary.
On arriving in Killybegs, pop in for a visit to Killybegs Information Centre, which is conveniently located on the Shore Road just opposite the small craft harbour. You will be sure to receive a warm welcome here and a wealth of inside knowledge and information on what to do and where to visit locally including the many hidden gems off the beaten track. It is also possible to book a tour here and Killybegs offers unique and bespoke day trip itineraries for visitors with both guided and self directed tours as options. Don’t forget to enquire about the Killybegs Heritage Trail that will take you on a journey back in time to discover this historic harbour town of years gone by. Maps and literature are available in the Information Centre. Visit www.killybegs.ie for more information.
Killybegs International Carpet Making & Fishing Centre is situated within what was once the famous Killybegs Carpet Factory. The Heritage Centre is home to the largest hand-knotted loom in the world. You will see live demonstrations of weaving of the hand-knotted carpets, a chance to meet and talk with one of the few hand-weavers remaining in this part of the country, and enjoy a step-by-step account of how each carpet is individually designed and produced. You are taught the unique craft of hand-knotting, and have the opportunity to try their skills at one of the hand-looms on display in the Factory.
Take a trip to Fintragh (Fionntrá) Beach, which is located approximately 3 km from Killybegs and take in a breath of fresh Donegal air and a walk along the golden strand. Fintragh beach consists of a long sandy beach; confined in a small inlet to the West of Killybegs Harbour, with hills and small cliffs to the west and the estuary if the Fintragh River to the East.
County Donegal is home to some of the most dramatic and dazzling coastal views in the world! Killybegs is known as the gateway to Sliabh Liag one of the signature points on the Wild Atlantic Way noted amongst the highest sea cliffs in Europe with stunning panoramic views across Donegal Bay. These majestic sea cliffs offer breathtaking panoramic views across the horizon. As the sea crashes in at the foot of the cliffs and the skies above seem ever closer from the top of the cliffs, you will experience the wonder of nature’s beauty in one of the most famous viewing points along in Donegal.
On your journey up Sliabh Liag you will first encounter a crystal clear lake and once you get closer to the summit, you could try walking along ‘One Man’s Pass’ which will take you to the absolute highest point of Sliabh Liag and the most unforgettable stunning view for miles over County Donegal. If you are not so keen on heights, then the visitors viewing platform is there for you to experience the views. It is also possible to view the cliffs from the sea with a Sliabh Liag Boat Trip that lets you enjoy the sights from a totally unique view from the sea.
A trip to Sliabh Liag would not be complete without a Sliabh Liag Boat Trip. Sliabh Liag Boat Trips are operated by local skipper, Paddy Byrne and depart daily in season from Teelin Pier. Seeing the Sliabh Liag cliffs by boat offers a fantastic and unique view of the cliffs from the sea. Not to mention the amazing opportunities to see local wildlife including blue fin tuna, dolphins, sea birds and even basking sharks. Paddy is an expert on this local area and will be happy to tell you a tale or two about the local folklore, wildlife and history of the area.
After Sliabh Liag continue your journey along this inspirational touring route of Ireland and stop off in Glencolmcille where you can enjoy the Glen Folk Village that offers a glimpse of life in Ireland many years ago. The Folk Village Museum is a cluster of several small cottages, called a ‘clachan’, perched on a hillside overlooking the sandy curve of Glen Bay Beach in the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area) of South West Donegal. Designed, built and maintained by the local people, the Folk Village is one of Ireland’s best living-history museums. Silver Strand is a stunning beach at Malin Beg just 7km from Glencolmcille, a long strand of golden sandy beach, perfect for walking, watersports and relaxation.
Stop off at Studio Donegal in Kilcar where you can pick up some local tweed made in Donegal. Studio Donegal has been weaving here for centuries, where traditional skills have been passed down through generations.
St. John’s Point is home to one of Donegal’s most famous lighthouses and is known as an excellent location for those who enjoy diving. The lighthouse is soon to open as self-catering accommodation, a truly unique experience. The views from the end of the point are spectacular, looking across Donegal Bay to the distinctive outline of Benbulben mountain in County Sligo, and to nearby Killybegs to one side and Bundoran on the other side. Discover Cindy Graham Hand weaving in Dunkineely not too far from St. John’s Point where you can visit her at work in her studio using local weaving traditions and methods.
If you are planning a sailing trip along the Wild Atlantic Way, Killybegs is the perfect stopover point on your journey. You will have access to everything you need and the local people are most helpful in helping you plan your visit.
Mooney Boats Ltd in Killybegs has a fully stocked chandlery store located just meters away from the marina. There is also a 75 tonne boat hoist on site to cater for customers looking to avail of our popular “Winter Boat Storage” service where we provide water, metered power and a whole range of maintenance and service options for all boat owners.
The Killybegs Small Craft Harbour is now open for business and will welcome visiting yachts. There are a minimum of 4 berths available for visiting boats up to 16m long with a maximum draft of 6m. Larger boats may be accommodated by special arrangement with the Harbour Master. Fuel is available locally; with water, electricity, waste and recycling including oil disposal available through the Harbour office.
To arrange access to the small craft harbour facility please contact the superintendent on (00353)86 0484175 or the harbour office at (00353)749731032 or Killybegs.Harbour@agriculture.gov.ie