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Killybegs, Ireland


Many tourists don't travel the distance to the northwest region of Ireland. However, if you want an authentic and wonderful experience of Ireland, continue north to the Donegal Bay Coast. You will take the N56 road west from Donegal town to drive north along the bay. The rugged coast of Donegal Bay is gorgeous and wild. The roads wind along the rocky land, rolling hills and mountains. The sea views are stunning. You will want to go slowly or your drive and stop often for photos.

I have had some of my best hiking experiences in northwest Ireland and some of the best dining and lodging experiences there, too. On one of my trips to the Donegal Bay Coast, I stayed in the fishing village of Killybegs. The harbor is filled with colorful boats and the resulting seafood is terrific. The traditional music is plentiful in this Irish-speaking (Gaeltacht) section of the country. Don't worry; the locals will be happy to speak English with you as you enjoy a Guinness in the local pub.

One evening I was dining in the Bay View Hotel restaurant in Killybegs and I saw a lively group across the room. As it turned out, the woman I sat next to on the plane from Chicago to Shannon Airport was in the group. We had each traveled hundreds of miles over the week since the flight and ended up at the same hotel in northwest Ireland. What are the odds of that? Well, it was meant to be and I had a fun evening of food, drink and music with that group from Chicago!

The highlight of my trip to Killybegs was my hike to the top of the mountain ridge just west of town. The Slieve League Mountain cliffs are the highest in Ireland at 2,000 feet. These spectacular cliffs are amazing to look at from below and truly breathtaking from the top.

When you are on the coast road west of Killybegs, take the turnoff for the Bunglass viewing point at Carrick. Once you are at the cliffs, you can decide whether to enjoy the view from the safe place you are standing, or risk a windy walk along the rather treacherous ridge above. If you are fit and a little crazy, you can go for the ridge top. It will take you about 4 to 5 hours for the round trip and it will be among your top lifetime experiences. Really! Make sure you have a camera with you. I did take some video when I got to the top of the ridge. It was an amazing hike.

If you continue on the coastal road west of Killybegs, you will find the 5,000 year-old village of Glencolumbkille. It is said that St. Columba built a monastery there in the 6th century. You will want to visit the Folk Park, buy local crafts at the Folk Village Shop and have some tea and a snack before you leave. There are also two beautiful beaches in Glencolumbkille. You won't see crowds if you make it this far west. From there, you can loop back to Donegal town or, if you have time to spare, keep going north for more adventures!

Take a trip to northwest Ireland and visit the fishing village of Killybegs. You will enjoy this rugged part of the country and want to return often. Enjoy!

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