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Donegal, Ulster, Ireland

Donegal Bay Coastal Drive to Yeats Country

Come away to the waters & the wild of Yeats Country via the best hidden gems of south Donegal.

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 50 miles / 80 km
Duration: Full day
Overview: The Donegal Bay Coastal Drive to Yeats Country is a 50 mile drive along the picturesque southern side of Donegal bay with some wonderful off the road locations to enjoy.

We'll take you as far as Nobel Laureate W.B. Yeats's grave under Ben Bulben in Drumcliffe, County Sligo. Much like our Slieve League Coastal Drive Along Donegal Bay guide, many visitors might overlook a few hidden gems in their efforts to get from Donegal Town to this must-see attraction. With this guide, we hope to ensure you are not missing out on any of these points of interest. Give yourself a day to take it all in.

Along the way, we take you to a patisserie, an artists' village, a tucked away seaside port, a retreat like no other, a reinvigorated local community, an award-winning coastal walk, an ancient holy well, the setting for a classic Irish drama, a great base for exploring and an iconic castle. The final stop will be Yeats's Grave in Drumcliffe, just before Sligo Town.

Parts of this journey are soon to feature on the much discussed Wild Atlantic Way to be launched in 2014. In our efforts to ensure you get the most out of Donegal Bay and its environs, we'd like to think we're ahead of the posse on this guide and bringing you to places that are off the standard tourist trail.

Tips: Ensure you familiarize yourself with the route beforehand. There are some breathtaking scenes along the way with plenty of stops required. For the Rossnowlagh Friary and Bundoran West End cliff Walk, comfortable walking shoes are required and of course an umbrella just in case.

Do not use this App while driving. The guide is offered subject to acceptance of the Licence Agreement, which is linked on the right hand column of this page. If you are downloading, we recommend the use of the EveryTrail Pro app, which allows for offline map usage of the guide.

Published: November 2013. Spot any typos or mistakes or got any suggestions to improve this guide? Email

Points of Interest


Le Fournil

As you start your journey south to Yeats Country, we thought we should point you to the best freshly baked artisan boulangerie and patisserie in the north west should you fancy a mid morning break along the way. Wags out there might suggest that starting on a journey to Yeats Country with a French touch is appropriate as that is in fact where the poet is located! This has to do with the fact that Yeats died in France and his remains did not return to Ireland until 1948 with the French graveyard utterly destroyed from the war. Did they remove the right body?

Le Fournil's specialities are breads, pastries, oils and olives at affordable prices. Their specialty bread is freshly baked in Franck’s bakery in Donegal Town. Franck works constantly to achieve a high quality product for both his retail and business customers.

Contact details:
Le Fournil,
Main Street Car Park, Donegal Town.
074 97 25677

Donegal Craft Village

On the outskirts of Donegal Town, we would recommend making time to stop off at the Craft Village which is well signposted and on the left. Meet the artists in their workshops and treat yourself to the many items on offer for yourself or as a memorable gift. Donegal Craft Village is a showcase for contemporary arts and crafts in Ireland. Stop off and indulge in Aroma, the award-winning restaurant renowned for its freshly ground coffee, delicious home made cakes and gourmet lunches.

The beautifully landscaped grounds include a picnic area, a charming courtyard, and spacious, free, car & coach parking.

Donegal Craft Village,
Donegal Town,
Co. Donegal,

(074) 972 2225



Laghey is a proper country village with a close knit community and one of the best run festivals you could hope to enjoy. Coming from the word 'The Muddy Place', this village may have been bypassed, but this if anything has allowed it to get on with its annual Laghey Blast festival, held every year on the May bank holiday weekend. Everything from a reptile zoo to wrestling, stunt cars, nature walks and a strong musical line up make this an early Summertime treat.

We'd suggest you stop to visit the distinctive neo-Gothic 1837 Church of Ireland just by the seven arched bridge before walking through the village. O'Carolan's is famous for dancing mid week and the Seven Arches pub always has a few characters passing through it. The charming Flour Pot cafe right beside the church is noted for good homemade food. Like Mountcharles on the other side of Donegal Town, Laghey is working hard to ensure it retains a vibrancy, while not forgetting its old world charms.



For those hoping to enjoy boating, golfing and good times, Mullanasole may well be that seaside location you have dreamed of. Not so much a village as a series of houses, it nevertheless is regarded by many in the locality to be one of the great hidden gems of the bay area.

Nearby is the famous Murvagh golf club, a perennial favourite of many links players. Beside that is the long sandy beach that is also Murvagh - kiteboarders have been enjoying this treat for the last few years to themselves. Then every August bank holiday weekend they have the Ballintra Races which are a stone's throw from here and are always great fun. The pier allows for sea craft to land with ease on the right tide and from there, there's only (literally) one place to go - the legendary Salmon Inn which has music and food as well as a lively bar on a Summer's evening.

All in all, it is a great diversion off the N15. If you have time, keep off the road and make your way through lush farmland to Rossnowlagh which is our next stop.

Rossnowlagh Friary

The Franciscan Friary is located in woods next to the La Verna Retreat centre, surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens and overlooking a coastal landscape, with a beautiful chapel in its midst. It is easy to see why many who visit describe it as a place of peace and tranquillity.

The La Verna Retreat Centre offers excellent modern facilities – including 17 en-suite bedrooms, but has retained the original charm of the dormitory building once used by the Franciscan Community.

For many La Verna is a place of peace, healing and reconciliation while for others it provides a space away from the demands of life and an opportunity to rest and relax in a beautiful setting by the ocean. “In this peaceful and prayerful setting may God renew your spirit and speak to your heart.”

Make sure you try and get to the top of their stations of the Cross through the woods and up to the best view this writer knows on Donegal Bay - you're more than likely to have it to yourself as it is not well known to the passing visitor.

The vigilance of local people in appreciating the value of preserving artefacts from the past can be witnessed in the County Donegal Historical Society Museum in Rossnowlagh. The museum is a testament to the rich heritage uncovered by local people, and their generosity in placing these items in the museum in Rossnowlagh. Many rare artefacts are displayed and preserved for future generations - the picture is the menu when Leopoldo O'Donnell, Duke of Tetuan was the society's guest at a dinner in Jackson's hotel in 1956.

Franciscan friary, Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal


Creevy is a small port side village overlooking Donegal Bay. Amongst its many charms, there is a purpose built shore path extending from Rossnowlagh, through Creevy and on to the mouth of the Erne Estuary at Ballyshannon. Walkers should note that fence crossings along the route are by stile rather than gates.

Approximately 10 kms 2 - 3 hours Prepared path Moderate due to its length and exposure. The ground can be slippery in wet weather.

The Creevy Co-operative offers the highly regarded Creevy Cottages only a 'stones throw' from the shore. These beautifully reconstructed traditional stone cottages marry the olde world with all modern conveniences.

The Co-op wish to offer you the ‘Creevy Experience’ and besides walks and accommodation, they have a fishing boat called the Dunai Mhara that will take you around Donegal Bay to fish and sightsee, including going right up to the cliffs of Slieve League.

Delightful Holiday Homes, spacious Traditional Stone Self Catering Holiday Cottages and are located only 6Km - Ballyshannon town, 4Km - Rossnowlagh beach (Blue Flag) and 12Km - Bundoran (Blue Flag) seaside town, Donegal, Ireland.

All cottages are 4* Failte Ireland approved, VAS Grade 4 Wheelchair Accessibility and EU Flower Ecolabel accredited in 2007 (one of the first in the country!). Rehab's 'Customer - ABLE Business Excellence Award' for their commitment and achievements as providers of services and products to customers with disabilities and as an employer of people who have, or at some time in the future may acquire, a disability. Free wifi in Kitty's cottage. el: 00353 71 9852896 | Fax: 00353 71 9852896

St. Patrick's Well

Outside the village of Ballyshannon is a well dedicated to St. Patrick, also known as the Abbey Well. The information stone at the entrance to the well reads:

"The Abbey Well, Tobar na Bachaille (The Well of the Staff or Crozier). This ancient well is associated with St. Patrick and St. Colmcille who helped his cousin St. Barron found Kilbarron Church. On August 15th people come here on pilgramage to pray and some tie strips of cloth on the tree as votive offerings."

Nearby is Catsby Cave where Masses were said in secret during Penal Times. Pilgrims would come here and say stations of the Cross. The idea behind the votive offerings was that people would pray for some event to happen with that wish being tangibly represented by the votive offering, which hopefully St. Patrick would grant.

Even to the non believer, it is a remarkable image seeing the votive offerings catching in the wind with Donegal Bay beyond it. Try and make time for the nearby Catsby Caves as well.

The nearby town of Ballyshannon is well worth stopping off in. Ballyshannon (Irish: Béal Átha Seanaidh, meaning "The Mouth of Seannachs ford"claims to be the oldest town in Ireland and has a rich history as one would imagine. There is an indomitable spirit to the town with numerous arts events from the famous Folk Festival to the Rory Gallagher festival to the Allimgham Arts festival taking place throughout the year. There's a well-established theatre in the town with numerous productions both professional and amateur in nature taking place as well as guided historical walks during the Summer in full period costume.

Rougey Walk

Bundoran certainly has come along way since the writer's mother was dragged there every summer some 60+ years ago. Fine walks, plenty to do and a cracking festival called The well maintained Blue Flag beach is seconds away from the renowned Rougey Walk.

With plenty of parking, you'll be starting the walk overlooking the surfing Mecca, Tullan Strand stretching out below the cliffs. Continue on along the path and you will come to the Fairy Bridges, cliff arches which have been carved by the Atlantic Ocean. Also close by is the Wishing Chair which is Bundoran's answer to the Blarney Stone. Make a wish as you sit on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean!

Follow the path taking you around the headland with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Bundoran's Championship Golf Course on the other. From the shelter at the top of Aughrus Point, the highest point on this walk, you can enjoy spectacular views across the town and out to sea. Below you is the Blue Flag beach and the promenade.

Follow the path along the promenade passing the "thrupenny pool", the Waterworld Complex and the funfair. The promenade comes to an end at Bundoran Tourist Office who will be happy to tell you more about the town - open Summer time only.


The Weir country

Irish playwright Conor McPherson`s people came from this part of the world and it is here that he based arguably his most famous play, The Weir, his Laurence Olivier award-winning play of ghostly remembrances.

Set in a not particularly well-stocked, rundown pub in north Leitrim, `The Weir` focuses on the tall tales of the bar's regular male patrons and a young attractive Dublin woman, who has just bought a house in the area. As the bachelors swap ghostly stories to impress her, she astonishes them with a chilling tale of her own - the very reason which brought this city woman to this remote and forsaken countryside.

"And the barman asked me if I was alright? Simple little question. And i said I was. And he said he'd make me a sandwich. And I said okay. And I nearly started crying--because you know, here was someone just...And I watched him. He took two big slices off a fresh loaf and buttered them carefully, spreading it all around. I'll never forget it. And then he sliced some cheese and cooked ham and an onion out of a jar, and put it all on a plate and sliced it down the middle. And, just someone doing this for me. And putting it down in front of me. 'Get that down you, now,' he said. And then he folded up his newspaper and put on his jacket, and went off on his break. And there was another barman then. And I took this sandwich up and I could hardly swallow it, because of the lump in my throat. But I ate i tall down because someone I didn't know had done this for me. Such a small thing. But a huge thing. In my condition.”
― Conor McPherson, The Weir

We invite you to go slightly off road to savour the countyside that inspired such a memorable debut from this great Irish writer.

Teapot Lane

Just off the N15 after your stop to Mullaghmore is an attraction worth noting. Located on the curiously titled Teapot Lane, this quirky venture comes highly rated and involves glamourous camping a.k.a glamping.


Those same wags that think poor Yeats is still in France would call this seaside village 'Little Omagh' on account of the preponderance of people from the Tyrone town having holiday homes here.

Mullaghmore though is a stunning peninsula jutting defiantly out into Donegal Bay. This ensures that surfers are in for a special treat here and the place is rightly famous as the best place on the west coast of Ireland for big breaking waves coming in from the Atlantic. A quick search on YouTube will prove that with gusto. Looking for award-winning seafood in Sligo? Georgina Campbell's seafood bar of the year 2014 is Eithne's By the Sea bar by the harbour. She opens up from Easter every year.

The iconic castle you pass on your way to the village is the famous Classiebawn castle which was a bequest to Edwina Ashley Later who was married to Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India. He inherited it when she died in 1960. In August 1979, while out fishing off Mullaghmore, the earl's boat was blown up by the IRA killing three people, including the earl.

There's no denying this dark moment n recent times, but Mullaghmore is so much more than one bad day. For surfing, swimming, boating and good seafood, it is possibly the best location on the bay.


The first thing to be said about Grange is slow down! It is a notorious speed trap with many a fine journey along the N15 spoiled by the Gardai fining a driver for speeding. You have been warned...

If you are getting peckish, we can highly recommend Lang's bar and restaurant for a well priced lunch. it's an old style bar and lounge with tasty food ranging from BLTs to main courses.

Grange is a good juncture from which to take note of the splendour around you. You are a mile or so from the geographical turning point of Ulster and Connacht, easily identified by going around the corner of the magnificent plateau on your left, Ben Bulben.

Streedagh is a nearby townland of Grange, the location of a sandy beach and an area of Special Conservation. Three Spanish Armada ships - La Lavia, La Juliana and the Santa Maria de Vison - were lost off Streedagh in 1588 and this is commemorated by a monument close to the beach. One of the survivors, Captain Francisco de Cúellar, recorded the events of the time in detail - thus the Armada Heritage signs in the village. He documents his shipwreck at Streedagh, the subsequent events ashore, and his attempts to find hospitality from local chieftains (O'Rourke and McClancy) in the then English garrisoned North Sligo, as he made his way back to Spain via Antrim and Scotland.

Nearby lie Inishmurray, Conors and Dernish islands which have a rich heritage worth investigating. Boat rides to the island can be found at nearby Rosses Point via the MV Fiona Tee - or look out for more information on this fascinating island from one of our links on the right hand column. Followers of the ins and outs of Irish politics should note that the late Tom Gilmartin came from Grange. Less controversial, but slightly more colourful, it is also the birthplace of Lola Montez - dancer, courtesan and mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. 'Twas far from that sort of stuff she was reared!

Just before the Supervalu supermarket on the right, there is a turn off to the right towards Roskeeragh and Raghly Points - the former being one last chance to savour Donegal Bay, the latter offering a bird's eye view of Sligo Bay.

Yeats's Grave

The resting place of Ireland's greatest poet, William Butler Yeats is as near perfect a location as you'd expect for such an evocative wordsmith. We have a separate two day series of guides around the best places to see in Yeats Country starting in Sligo Town down the road.

Yeats was meticulous in his funeral plans. His grandfather had been rector in Drumcliffe and in his poem Under Ben Bulben, he set out his plans to be buried here and what his epitaph was to be. He died in France in 1939 and was finally laid to rest here in 1948. Well, possibly.

In the final two stanzas of Under Ben Bulben, Yeats declared: -

Irish poets, learn your trade,
Sing whatever is well made,
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top,
Their unremembering hearts and heads
Base-born products of base beds.
Sing the peasantry, and then
Hard-riding country gentlemen,
The holiness of monks, and after
Porter-drinkers' randy laughter;
Sing the lords and ladies gay
That were beaten into clay
Through seven heroic centuries;
Cast your mind on other days
That we in coming days may be
Still the indomitable Irishry.

Under bare Ben Bulben's head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!
Pictures in this guide taken by: navigatourist

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