Narin / Portnoo Beach

Narin is a sheltered cove beach approximately 2km long on the Atlantic coast of Ireland. Approximately 2km from Portnoo, 8km from Ardara or 10km from Glenties this impressive Blue Flag beach has safe waters for bathing and is attended by a lifeguard during the summer months. There are toilet facilities near the beach with ample parking also available. Local shops, bars and restaurants are within walking distance and there are three well-maintained caravan sites close to the strand area.

An extensive sandy beach in a rural environment. The beach is backed by an extensive and majestic sand dune system with a well defined primary dune ridge. The coastal area here is a designated NHA exhibiting a highly diverse range of both coastal and terrestrial habitats.

The beach at Narin can be found by travelling north on the R261 from Ardara and heading towards the village of Narin.


Lifeguards are on duty in July and August everyday between 12.00 noon and 6.30pm.

First Aid

A First Aid kit is available at the Beach Lifeguard Hut-12.00 and 6.30pm or Cunninghams Pub

Although the village faces north into the Atlantic the hills to the west on Dunmore Head offer very welcome protection. The rocks on the shore near the pier tell the story of how this part of Donegal was formed, millions of years ago: you can see slates run through with veins of granite, and black crystalline limestone showing the effects of millennia of erosion by rain and sea spray.

Looking out to sea the first sight is the island of Inishkeel, Inis Caoil in Gaelic, which gives its name to the local parish, including the town of Glenties. Beyond Inishkeel one can see the estuary of the Gweebarra River and the southern edge of the Rosses. When the tide is low one can walk from Narin out to the island which is named after Conall Caol, the sixth century saint who is associated with many other places in the southwest of the county. The tide allows you around an hour to visit the sites, before walking back again. It is well worth a visit, with its early Christian churches, holy wells and beautifully decorated stone slabs.

Famine Graveyard

Directly behind Ard Patrick housing estate is the site of the Famine Graveyard. To enter the graveyard, one must drive up into the housing estate an d there you will find and entrance between the first phase of houses built and the new houses (which have a porch). In 1997 the grounds of the graveyard was repaired and a headstone was erected in commemoration of these people who died during the Great Famine (1846-1849). The Comprehensive school is situated on the grounds of the ‘Old Hospital’ and the ‘Workhouse’ was situated where the first phase of houses are built.

During the time of the Famine, this Workhouse was a very important place in our town.The Famine was due to the failure of the potato crop, by a disease called “Blight”. At that time the main food taken was potatoes, and bread if the flour was available. This also became a problem as the flour got scarce.

In 1847 the famine had got so bad and that there were men roaming the countryside begging for food. The “Workhouse” became so overcrowded, which made the living conditions dreadful, causing a fever to spread rapidly. There was no ventilation,no food, not enough straw to make beds on the floor, and because the “Workhouse” was built on low ground it sometimes used to flood, causing a dreadful smell. This led to the death rate being one of the highest in the country. When these people died they were buried in the “Famine Graveyard”.

Narin & Portnoo Golf Club

For over 100 years, golfers have enjoyed the superb links terrain adjacent to the magnificent Blue Flag beach at Narin in West Donegal. The view from the beach-hugging fifteenth hole encapsulates all that is magical about this most scenic of areas, with the arc of Narin Strand, Inniskeel Island, Portnoo, Dunmore Head, Arranmore Island and the majestic Atlantic Ocean filling the senses. The new clubhouse offers the ultimate in style and comfort, with fine cuisine and a convivial atmosphere.

A warm welcome awaits visitors and societies to the club. It has been selected by The Irish Times as one of the Top Ten Value-for-Money golf courses in Ireland. Green Fees and Societies are welcome seven days a week. Every men’s Sunday competition is open, except during Captain’s Weekend. Every Wednesday singles competition is open to both ladies and gents. The ladies branch host special reduced-fee open days during the summer.

The facilities include the newly-refurbished clubhouse, professional shop, professional lessons, practice area, practice net, locker rooms, putting green, shop, buggies, trolleys and club hire. A full menu is available from the caterers seven days a week.

The course lies six miles northwest of Glenties, eight miles north of Ardara, through the village of Narin. Donegal International Airport at Carrickfinn is just 45 minutes away. Both Ardara and Glenties are within seven miles of the club and rarely a weekend goes by without some festival or other visitor attraction being organised. The Dolmen Centre in nearby Kilclooney is a hub of activity for all interest groups. Those with a taste for archaeology, botany, fishing, traditional music, hill-walking, bird-watching, water sports and more are well catered for in the local area.

The club has always been renowned for its hospitality, while the course itself has tantalised golfers of all handicaps with the variety of shots required to manoeuvre the ball to a respectable score. The par is 73 and the course from the back tees measures some 6,854 yards. Visitor tees are available to those who desire a shorter, though still challenging test. The jewels in the crown are the pair of snaking par fives that will beguile the enthusiast on the homeward journey.

Once ensconced in the cosiest and friendliest of nineteenth holes, the golfer will be hard-pressed to name a favourite hole, as there are so many contenders for the moniker of “Signature”. Some say the par five fifteenth, while others prefer the short, but treacherous, chasm-crossing, par three seventh.

The club hosts a popular Pro-Am each summer which attracts some of the best professional golfers in Ireland. Former Ryder Cup star, Philip Walton was runner-up to two-time winner, Damian Mooney in 2008.

You’ll be counting the days till the next time, once you’ve experienced this gem’s delights!

Head out to sea with Tor Mór charter boat

Kingfisher 31′ Sport, 500HP, custom built charter boat.

Located at Rosebg & Portnoo, south-west county Donegal, the Tor Mór charter boat has a P5 license to carry 12 passengers. The Tor Mór charter provides the perfect opportunity to explore the wealth of marine and coastal attractions in the clean, clear waters of South West Donegal.

Now available for full, half-day & evening mackerel charters.

Sea Angling

With a spacious aft deck Tor Mór is ideal for fishing. Donegal’s waters have some of the best fishing and angling available. There is a wealth of reefs and wrecks in the local area with a variety species including:

Mackerel, Haddock, Ling, Pollock & Wrasse, as well as Blue Shark in season from Mid-July to Mid-September and the possibility of Blue Fin Tuna from Mid-Sept to November.

Rods and Tackle are provided free on board.

SCUBA Diving

Donegal enjoys some of the clearest waters in Western Europe and outstanding underwater geographic features with rock faces, gullies and boulders fields.

Sight Seeing

Within easy access are; Sliabh a’ Thuaidh, with one of the countries largest Grey Seal colonies, Sea Stacks An Tor Mór and Gúb an Diabhail, and Ráthlin Ó Beirne island.

The Deep-vee hull provides a safe, smooth ride and easy planing. It has good load carrying capacity and is ideally suited to rough conditions; with good stability and excellent handling.

The comfortable cabin can provide shelter from the worst of the elements. There is a fridge and micro-wave provided that can be used to reheat food, though you must provide this yourself. Toilet facilities are available on board.

Tel: +353 (0) 87 2458514

Fishing on the Owenea

The Owenea River runs for some 13 miles, draining Lough Ea in the west of the Croaghs, into Loughrosmore Bay at Ardara. The Owenea is primarily a spate river taking around one to two days to run off after a good flood. The season on the Owenea runs from 1 April to 30 September.

The Owenea is one of the best salmon rivers in the county. The river has a run of spring salmon, grilse, sea trout and has a resident stock of small brown trout. The fishery consists of nine beats on the bottom eight miles of the river with good pools spread throughout the whole river. The river has a lot of nice fly water with the majority of fish being caught by this method. When in condition the river is one of the best in the country for grilse. The main grilse run starts in July with salmon right to the end of the season.

The fishery has access for disabled anglers along a section of beat 3. There is an ongoing programme of maintenance and upgrading of access, angling structures, habitat restoration etc. Additional funding was obtained from Fáilte Ireland in 2007 to improve facilities and access for anglers on the river.

N.B. Shrimp and Prawn are strictly prohibited.

Adult day permits €35
Juvenile (under 16) day permits €15
Weekly (seven-day) permits €175

Bookings/Further information
To book online go to the Donegal Angling Holidays website. Single-day and multi-day fishing products are available. Please ensure that you also purchase a licence if you book your fishing permit online. To fish on the Owenea you must hold a fishing permit and a fishing licence.

Bookings are non-transferable. Rods are assigned to beats on a first come first served basis. Payment can made by credit or debit card, including Visa, MasterCard and Laser.

Bookings and in-season information available through:
Owenea Angling Centre, Glenties Hatchery, Glenties, Co. Donegal. Tel: (074) 9551141. Fax: (074) 9551444. Email:

Off-season information available through
Northern Regional Fisheries Board, Station road, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal. Tel: (071) 9851435. Fax: (071) 9851816. Email:

Sandfield Pitch and Putt

A wonderfully challenging 18 hole Pitch & Putt course with spectacular views of Loughros Bay and the hills of Donegal. Once described by a regular visitor as “The St. Andrews of Pitch & Putt Courses”, this lovingly maintained course with carpet quality Greens, offers an exciting and enjoyable game to both the first time visitor or seasoned pitch & Putt. Player/Golfer who wishes to improve his/her skills. No two holes are the same in this unique setting, where you are welcome from 10.30am to one hour before sunset every day from April to September.

View Larger Map

Walk the Bluestack Way

The Bluestack Way, beginning in Donegal Town it takes the walker along country lanes to the magnificent Lough Eske. The main route take the road along the Northern shore of the lake while there is a circle route along the roadway on the Southern shore. Accomodation is plentiful in the Lough Eske area.

Finished viewing Lough Eske. Take the Path way to the east of Banagher Hill through the Eglish Valley and along the foothills of the Bluestack Mountains.
Take in the wonderful views of the main peaks in the Bluestacks to your right and the Sligo mountains and Donegal Bay to your left.

Take time to view the Greg Mare’s Tale water fall as you cross the Eany More water.
Near the foot of Carnaween take time to visit the ancient graveyard at Disert.

Crossing the mountain gives spectacular views into the valley of Glenties and the town of Ardara.

In Glenties take time to visit the local museum. This is the home of Patrick MacGill which hosts apopular Summer School every August in his honour. September 12th is the Harvest Fair Day in Glenties one of the oldest fairs in Ireland.

Leaving Glenties follow the Bank of the Owenea River to Ardara.

For more information see the Walking Ireland website

St. Connell's Museum & Heritage Centre

History of its Foundation and Development
Compiled by Danny Boyle

As a result of a local historical study by a small group of people interested in the history, customs and traditions of the parish of Inniskeel, they were invited to present a programme on RTE’s Community Radio when it Visited Glenties in August of 1982. From that programme the idea was mooted that as there was so much local historical information available it should be preserved in a permanent way.
Arising from that a meeting was held in the Market Hall, Glenties, on 1st August, 1983, with the following persons in attendance: –
Mary Campbell, Nora Breslin, Mannix Boyle, Eugene Boyle, Liam Briody and Danny Boyle.
The first Officer – Board appointed was:

Mary Campbell —– Chairperson
Mannix Boyle —– Secretary
Nora Breslin & Liam Briody —– Joint-Treasurers.

Those officers with, Eugene Boyle, and Danny Boyle, were the founding members of the new Centre.
The decision was taken to set up a museum to keep safe from loss the historical information at hand as well as the many artefacts, which were available and suitable for display.
It was agreed that the Centre would cater for an area covering a large section of South-West Donegal.
They immediately took steps to lease from the Donegal County Council a portion of the local Courthouse which was considered to be a suitable location for the project..


In the 1973 publication, “Court Houses and Market Houses of the Province of Ulster”, by CEB Brett the author states that “unusually for the small townships of West-Donegal Glenties has both a Market blouse and a Courthouse”.

He continues: –

“The courthouse is surprisingly sophisticated. It is a variant on William Caldbeck’s standard design, of five bays and two storeys, with hipped roof, built over a basement containing the bride well cells. The two end bays project, and the roof over sails the central bays. In the upper storey are five large round-headed windows, set in recesses and plain round-headed architraves, with their original glazing; the doors are set between simplified pilasters supporting pediment-shaped heads. The eaves have square modillions; the imposing chimneys form an integral part of the composition. The quality of the stonework is uncommonly high throughout. The original courtroom furnishings, including high box-pews, remain quite unaltered.”

“This building was the cause of acrimony between the Grand Jury and the Lord Lieutenant. The Grand Jury considered it “unnecessary and inexpedient” in view of the propinquity of the new courthouse at Donegal; His Excellency differed, and directed them to build it, at a cost of £900. This sum they resolutely refused to vote, on the advice of their Surveyor, who suggested that £650 would be more than adequate. After an exchange of stiff memoranda and resolutions the Grand Jury was constrained, with very poor grace, to give way. The building was in fact completed in 1843.
The Grand Jurymen of Co. Donegal were as parsimonious as they were stiff- necked”

This Courthouse has never been physically altered since it was first opened and is now a very valuable built-heritage in South-West Donegal. The authenticity and the antiquity of this room preserves the integrity of Irish courts from the last century.
It was this that attracted the Producers of the film serial “The Hanging Gale” to the Courthouse. They had searched the County for such a building and on discovering Glenties found a Courtroom which generated the necessary atmosphere and where the set was more than a facade.

The Courtroom and the basement including the Bridewell Cells, continue to be part of the Museum’s exhibition

Down the years many people have passed through the doors of the Courthouse with fear and trepidation, some without hope, but those coming to view this place now – a – days are assured of a friendly and hospitable welcome.
Inside the main door is the, Courtroom which after over 150 years has settled down to lie grimly untouched over its gruesome basement.

It was Goldsmith who once said “that laws grind the poor and rich men rule the law.”
That was only too true in the early years of this buildings existence.
Like the poor woman in the aftermath of the Great Famine who stole, the loaves of bread to feed her starving children. It was in this Courtroom that she suffered the harsh sentence of separation from her children. Reprieved at the last moment she was much more fortunate than the men who stole the sheep belonging to the local landlord. Transported to Van Diemans Land. But they weren’t so unlucky after all, because when they left their so called convict days behind them they went on to become prominent and very successful citizens of that new world.

If this Courtroom could only talk what stories it could tell about man’s inhumanity, particularly in, the dreadful early years of its existence.

In those early years the Magistrate’s writ was largely in favour of the Landlord and the other well to do. Power was on their side, but power without justice is always tyranny, and that was what the people suffered under in the second half of the last century.

From it’s opening over 150 years ago until the Treaty in 1921 a contingent of the British Army kept guard at Glenties Courthouse.
This was the environment in which Padraig Pearse, leader of the Easter week Rebellion, found himself when in 1912 he defended a local farmer who was charged for displaying his name in Irish on his cart.

When a prisoner was found guilty he or she was taken down stairs to be lodged in an uninviting iron-door cell in the basement.

The British Army evacuated the Courthouse after the Treaty was signed and was replaced by a contingent from the new Free State Army.
Their biggest task was to guard the large number of Republican prisoners held in Glenties Jail until the end of the Civil War.

Those Bridewell cells were never again used as a holding centre for prisoners, but proved and continue to prove to be a great attraction for visitors to the Museum and Heritage Centre.


At this stage it was decided to enlarge the Committee and a further ten persons were invited to join.
Thomas Gildea and John Gallagher became members on 27th August 1983. Larry Lonergan joined on 15th May 1984.
Hugo Mc Dyer, Paddy O’Donnell, Packie Boyle, John Timoney and Foncie O’Donnell, became members on 12th January 1985. At a later meeting in January John Me Loone joined.

At a meeting on 5th January, 1985, the following were appointed as official Trustees to the Centre: –
John Gallagher, Eugene Boyle, Thomas Gildea, Mannix Boyle, Mary Campbell and Danny Boyle.

An enormous amount of work was accomplished by the members in repairing the building, constructing furniture, cleaning artefacts, and mounting exhibits.
All this work was done on a voluntary basis and the Committee prides itself on the fact that it continues to be a voluntary body.

In view of the direction which the project was taken it was agreed that the apt name for it should be “St. Connell’s Museum & Heritage Centre”. St. Connell being patron saint of the Parish of Inniskeel.


The committee was now able to turn its attention to the collection of suitable items for exhibition and the members were surprised at the generosity of the people who donated so many items of great interest. Some of the organisers had personal collections of great historical value and those provided the foundation around which exhibitions were formed.
The personal collections consisted of Donegal Railways memorabilia and artefacts; and material concerning the great poverty of the last century including memorabilia and artefacts from the old Glentie
s Workhouse. Those collections got the Centre off to a flying start but are only a small portion of an array which has been amassed from nearly every home over a wide area.

The Centre opened its doors to the general public at 7 p.m. on Friday 15th August,1986.

Lack of space was preventing the display of much valuable material and steps had to be taken to provide more rooms for the presentation of further exhibitions.
As a result the members of the Committee arranged for the purchase of the, site adjoining the Courthouse, which was currently in use as a handball alley by a local club. The club was anxious to vacate this site as they had plans to transfer their handball activities to their own complex outside of town.
After procuring this site application was made through the County Council for a grant to build a purpose built Museum and this was obtained from the E.E.C. Structural Fund. The amount of the grant was £ 90,000 and 25% had to be contributed by the local committee. A grant of £10,000 was got from the National Lottery.

Antoin Mac Gabhann, B. Arch., M.R.I.A.I., Letterkenny, was appointed as the Architect and after consultation with the Centre’s committee he drew up the plans of the new building. Those were, approved in course and the architect then advertised and invited tenders for the building of the new museum. Mr. Frank Connaghan, Contractor, of Glenties won the contract and shortly afterwards building commenced.
The building was completed in 1991.

The museum committee now had a new building on their hands but it was essential to fit it out properly. It was evident that this was also going to prove, to be an expensive part of the development.

Then tragedy struck with the unexpected death of the Centre’s Secretary. Mannix Boyle had been one of the principal driving forces behind the, founding of the Museum and, indeed, in some of the bad early days it was he who kept the ideal alive when nearly everyone else had tired and would have given up on it. Truly he did a remarkable administrative job in his position as Secretary, and it is fitting that his memory is fondly kept by means of the engraved plaque on permanent display in the Local Study Room on the top floor of the New- Building
Mannix died in May 1993.

During its short enough lifetime the committee had a very close and friendly association with a small number of cross-border Heritage Centres, including The, Transport and Folk Museum, Cultra, Co. Down, and the Derry City Museum. The committee was encouraged to apply for financial assistance from the Joint Interreg Programme for Northern Ireland and Ireland (1991-1993), and because of the cross-border relationship it was successful in obtaining grant- aid of £89,000; of course 25% of this figure had to be a local contribution. The new building was opened as a visitor facility in the 1993 Season.

In order to qualify for the Interreg grant it was necessary for the Centre to become a legal entity. For that reason the Committee became registered as a co-operative under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act.
It was officially registered by the Registrar of Friendly Societies on 23rd July, 1993, as ” St. Connell’s Museum & Heritage Centre Society Ltd. The officers of the Co-op. are as follows:-
Chairperson ——– Liam Briody
Vice – Chairperson ——– Nora Breslin
Treasurer ———- Eugene Boyle Secretary ———- Danny Boyle.
The membership of the new Co-op. was as under:-
Nora Quinn, John Timoney, John Me Loone, Jimmy Fletcher, Packie Boyle, Charlie Ward, Hugo Mc Dyer, Richard Me Cafferty, Paddy O’ Donnell, Foncie O’Donnell, Gerry Boyle ; with the members of the Officer Board

Since the preparation of this report it is with great sadness that we note with the deepest regret the deaths of two of our most outstanding members, Jimmy Fletcher and Foncie O’ Donnell. Both of them are greatly missed

Note that the Courtroom continues to be used for District Court purposes. Monthly Courts are held with the exception of July and August i.e. 10 courts in the year. The Courtroom is used as part of the Museum exhibitions on all other days.

Patrick MacGill

Patrick MacGill was born in 1889 in the Glen of Glenties, and was the first of eleven children. After a mere three years’ schooling, Patrick left at ten and after two years’ work on the home patch of land set out at twelve as one of a party of Donegal youngsters for the hiring fair in Strabane.

MacGill’s literary career began in1910, he asked The Derry Journal to print some poems. At that time he was working as a plate-layer on the Glasgow – Greenock line of the Caledonian Railway. Shortly afterwards he moved to London and had ‘Children of the Daed End’ and the ‘Rat Pit’ published. They were best sellers. MacGill wrote more novels, some with an Irish setting and some with an English background, but never again did he achieve the intensity of these two novels, that really form a single work.

Inniskeel Island

The Island of Inniskeel has a sacred interest in the present and the past with a long, if broken, history to commemorate its former greatness. It is still the seat of a must-frequented pilgrimage in honour of St. Connell, one of the most remarkable of Ireland’s early Saints. It contains his Church and his cell and in it repose his scared remains in the grave that had first closed over the body of his illustrious friend, St. Dallan.

There seems to be no ground for questioning the popular belief that St. Connell founded the buildings, which still remain. At the same time substantial parts were certainly rebuilt at a later period.

The year of St. Connell’s birth is not known with exactness. He died about 596. His name is forever linked with famous Cain Domnaigh, a law prohibiting servile works on Sunday. The prohibition was from Vespers on Saturday evening to Monday morning and should delight the heart of sabbatarian by its exacting observance, did it not in other respects unmistakably savour of Catholic practice. In the “Yellow Book of Lecan” the Cain is prefaced by a statement of its being brought from Rome by St. Connell, on an occasion of a pilgrimage made by him to the Eternal City. Our chroniclers make two notable statements in regard to it. They say it was written by the hand of God in Heaven and placed on the Altar of St. Peter, and secondly that it was brought from Rome by St. Connell. Now, however, one may be inclined to explain away either or both statements, there is no mistaking the avowal of respect they imply for Roman authority nor any serious reason for calling the pilgrimage itself into question. The Cain Domnaigh was never enacted by the states or councils of Erin. That it was believed to have been brought from Rome sufficed to spread its sway.

Dallan was born in Feallach Eatbach, which is taken to be Tullyhain in Cavan. Nothing that parental care could accomplish was left undone to perfect his education in scared and secular subjects. At an early age in his career he lost the use of his eyes. Notwithstanding this dismal failure he became the most eminent man of letters in Ireland. He was antiquarian, philosopher, rhetorician and poet all in one. He was the literary chief, the file laureat of Erin in his day. A saint’s life and a martyr’s death crown the glory of his fame. His best known works are the “Amhra Coluim Cille” or written panegyric on Columcille, a funeral oration on St. Senan, Bishop of Inniscattery, and a panegyric on St. Connell Coel. He was beheaded by pirates who plundered the island. His death occurred about 594. St. Dallan’s Feast occurs on the 29th January.

Directions for Making Saint Connell’s Station

  1. The Pilgrim kneeling at St. Connell’s Well says an Act of Contrition, 7 Our Fathers, 7 Hail Marys, 7 Glorias and the Creed. Where water drips from the rock over the Well he says 1 Our Father and 3 Hail Marys and sprinkles himself with the water.
  2. Kneeling at St. Connell’s bed 3 Our Fathers, 3 Hail Marys, 3 Glorias and the Creed are said.
  3. At The Three Piles of Stones the pilgrim says 5 Our Fathers, 5 Hail Marys, 5 Glorias and the Creed while making the circuit of each pile three times.
  4. At the Small Well, scared to the Virgin Mary, kneeling the pilgrim says 5 Our Fathers, 5 Hail Marys, 5 Glorias and the Creed and sprinkles himself with the water.
  5. While proceeding to Large Stone behind the Churchyard, prayers are said for the suffering souls in Purgatory. In making the circuit of the Stone three times, 5 Our Fathers, 5 Hail Marys, 5 Glorias and a creed are said.
  6. A circuit of the Church of St. Connell and his cell is made three times, during which 7 decades of the Rosary are recited. These decades may be finished kneeling inside the Church at the Altar Stone. Kneeling here the pilgrim also prays for the Pope’s intentions, and his own intentions.
  7. Kneeling and looking out of the Church door the pilgrim says 3 Our Fathers, 3 Hail Marys, 3 Glorias and the Creed in honour of Saints Connell and Dallan, and to obtain for the pilgrim the benefits of the Station.