Within walking distance…
If you are looking for somewhere to come for a care free quiet holiday, this is the place. Our house is comfortable and warm. There is a pub and restaurant exactly 137 steps from door of house to door of pub. It was awarded the Egon Roney Award in 1995 and will serve you an excellent pint of Guinness by a peat fire, get you your bread and milk and send you on your way with the best fish and chips in the North West. No worries about who is going to cook or drive home.
There are two more shops in Portsalon, where you can get just about anything you might need for a couple of weeks holiday. There are another two restaurants and two pubs in Portsalon. Portsalon Beach was voted by the British newspaper “The Observer” as being the second most beautiful beach in the world. The beach and pier are no more than two minutes walk away. The beach is two miles long, has beautiful white sand and is mostly empty by normal standards. Ballymastocker Bay is within Lough Swilly and protected by Knockalla Mountain so the beach is protected from the worst of the Atlantic weather. It is great for walking and exercise.
Portsalon Golf Club is 500 yards away. The golf course is an 18 hole par 69 links course, and has been around since 1891. It is one of the oldest golf courses in Ireland, is beautifully designed in the true tradition of the ‘out and in’ links course. It is open to non-member but does not offer club hire. It is well worth bringing your own clubs. Even if you do not play the game, the course runs along the edge of the beach and offers a lovely walk with fantastic views.
Places of interest
Glenveagh National Park
With its sandy beaches, unspoilt boglands and friendly communities, Co. Donegal is a favoured destination for many travellers, Irish (especially Northern Irish) and foreign alike. One of the county treasures is Glenveagh National Park (formerly part of the Glenveagh Estate), as yet (November 2010) the only official national park anywhere in the Province of Ulster. The park is a 140 km² (about 35,000 acre) nature reserve with spectacular scenery of mountains, raised boglands, lakes and woodlands. At its heart is Glenveagh Castle, a beautiful late Victorian ‘folly’ that was originally built as a summer residence.
The Donegal Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking district) also attracts young people to County Donegal each year during the school summer holidays. The three week long summer Gaeltacht courses give young Irish people from other parts of the country a chance to learn the Irish language and traditional Irish cultural traditions that are still prevalent in parts of Donegal. The Donegal Gaeltacht has traditionally been a very popular destination each summer for young people from Northern Ireland. Scuba Diving is also very popular with a club being located in Donegal Town.
Gaelic football and hurling
The Gaelic Athletic Association sport of Gaelic football is very popular in Donegal. Donegal’s inter-county football team have won the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship title twice (in 1992 and 2012). In 2007 Donegal won only their second national title by winning the National Football League. On 24 April 2011, Donegal added their third national title when they defeated Laois to capture the National Football League Division Two. There are 16 clubs in the Donegal Senior Football Championship, with many others playing at a lower level.
Hurling, handball and rounders are also played but are less widespread, as in other parts of northwestern Ireland. The Donegal county senior hurling team has never managed a title.
There are several rugby teams in the county. These include Ulster Qualifying League Two side Letterkenny RFC, whose ground is named after Dave Gallaher, the captain of the 1905 New Zealand All Blacks touring team, who have since become known as The Originals. He was born in nearby Ramelton.
Ulster Qualifying League Three sides include Ballyshannon RFC, Donegal Town RFC and Inishowen RFC.
Finn Harps plays in the League of Ireland and won promotion to the Premier Division in 2007 following a 6–3 aggregate win in the playoff final. They are now back alongside their arch-rivals Derry City F.C., with whom they contest Ireland’s North-West Derby. There are numerous other clubs in Donegal, but none has achieved the status of Finn Harps.
Many people travel to Donegal for the superb golf links—long sandy beaches and extensive dune systems are a feature of the county, and many links courses have been developed. Golf is a very popular sport within the county, including world class golf courses such as Ballyliffin (Glashedy), Ballyliffin (Old),both of whch are located in the Inishowen peninsula. Other courses to note are Murvagh (located outside Donegal Town), Portsalon Championship Course (Fanad Head) and Rosapenna (Sandy Hills) located in Downings (near Carrigart). The Glashedy Links has been ranked 6th in a recent ranking taken by Golf Digest on the best courses in Ireland. The Old links was ranked 28th, Murvagh 36th and Sandy Hills 38th.
Surfing and Kite Surfing
Bundoran is regarded as one of the best surfing spots in Ireland and Europe.
Because of some Donegal’s hilly and mountain landscape, Mountain Biking has become a significant and growing interest. The Donegal Mountain Bike Club is the newest Mountain Bike club in Donegal, and held its first race on 31 August 2011. The ‘Bogman Race’ was entered by more than 50 people from different backgrounds of cycling. Due to the overwhelming popularity of their first ever race, the club plans to organize more races in the near future over different seasons, and aims to make it a major tourist attraction throughout Donegal.
Cricket is also played in County Donegal. This sport is chiefly confined to The Laggan district and the Finn Valley in the east of the county. The town of Raphoe and the nearby village of St. Johnston, both in The Laggan, are the traditional strongholds of cricket within the county. The game is mainly played and followed by members of County Donegal’s Protestant community.
Donegal’s rugged landscape lends itself to active sports like climbing, hillwalking, surfing and kite-flying.
Rock climbing is of very high quality and still under-developed in the county. There is a wealth of good quality climbs in the county, from granite rocks in the south to quartzite and dolerite in the north; from long mountain routes in the Poisoned Glen to boulder challenges of excellent quality in the west and in the Inishowen Peninsula.
Surfing on Donegal’s Atlantic coast is considered to be as good as any in Ireland. The seaside resort of Bundoran, located in the very south of the county, along with nearby Rossnowlagh, have been ‘reborn’ as the centre of surfing in County Donegal. Indeed, these areas are renowned as the main surfing centres in Ulster.