Donegal is one of Irelands best kept secrets having traditionally been ‘off’ the usual tourist trails. You wouldn’t come for the weather, but you might for the beaches and coastline.
In fact, the unmissable Slieve League Cliffs are an absolute must. With your own private guide, hike the Pilgrim’s Path for some of the most incredible Atlantic views in all the country. The trail’s name comes from the era of Ireland’s Penal laws in the 18th and 19th centuries, a series of laws imposed on the local Irish population to force Irish Roman Catholic dissenters to convert to the “true faith” of the English Anglican Church.
This meant that official Catholic worship was outlawed, but many Irish refused to convert, so they met in secret in remote, rural places, such as Slieve League, where they said mass from allotted “mass rocks.” Along the Pilgrim’s Path, you’ll find the remains of a Mass Rock, a makeshift “church.” Today it’s in ruin, but the name stuck. Following your hike, you will enjoy a well deserved coastal wild barbecue, or should the weather not be on side, warm lunch at a local pub where live music in the summer months is almost a dead cert.
The following day, it will be time to hit the sea with a local skipper boasting 40 years of experience fishing these waters. From a game angling point of view, if your idea of angling heaven is solitude, wild fish, scenery and unspoilt fishing then look no further. Depending on the season you can venture out for mackerel, pollock, cod and ling. Or, for those looking for a more extreme experience tuna swamps the area from August through October and trawling for them is an exciting opportunity to see these monsters up close and personal. Alternatively, off the sea the region possesses a number of high quality salmon and trout fisheries. The Owenea River is beloved by fly anglers consisting of streamy runs interspersed with pools creating lovely fly water. When water conditions are good this is a prolific little river.