Exciting Things to See and Do in Donegal

Many people come to Donegal Thatched Cottages on Cruit Island to simply relax, unwind and just do nothing strenuous that would pressurise them in any way. They don’t think really about what to do or see in Donegal. They are already under stress and pressure in their every-day lives and rejoice in the fact that Cruit Island is like another world, cut off from the rat race of the 21st century. Here they can absorb the natural beauty of the landscape and allow it to re-charge their batteries. We welcome such clients and totally understand why they may not be interested in many of the suggested activity ideas below.

Many other clients, however, find that it is precisely through engaging in all sorts of different activities that they manage to unwind and return home refreshed in mind and body. It is for such people that we have gone to considerable trouble to prepare a list of suggested holiday activities at Donegal Thatched Cottages. We trust you find them helpful and welcome any positive feedback. Enjoy.

Cruit Island is joined by a bridge to the mainland. It is approximately 3 miles (5km) long by 1 mile (1.6km) wide. All of the following challenges/activities are based on Cruit Island, within easy walking distance of the cottages.

  1. Leave your footprints on the twelve sandy beaches of Cruit Island bearing in mind that a number of them are hidden away in secret places.
  2. Walk all the winding sideroads of Cruit and wend your way back to the Cottages by beaten track and spectacular cliff pathways.
  3. On your various walks keep a lookout for the larva of the very rare and very beautiful “death’s-head moth”. These larvae will be 4-6 inches (10-15cms) long and multicoloured. The moth herself has a wingspan of 6 inches (15 cms) and the likeness of a small skull and crossbones on each wing.
  4. Get close to a rare and protected Chough (pronounced “chuffe”) and see the red beak and red legs which distinguish it from crow, raven and jackdaw.
  5. Listen for the distinctive “cook-ku” of the Cuckoo in late spring/early summer. You will not be disappointed.
  6. 6 Waken to the warbling of a Sky Lark and take an early morning stroll on a deserted beach.
  7. As you walk past the “Corncrake Field” on your way down to the golf course you just might be lucky enough to hear the hoarse cry of the corncrake.
  8. Don’t miss the deep “grunt” of an adult Raven as he flies overhead.
  9. As dusk approaches listen carefully for the “bleating” sound of the Jack Snipe as he drums his tail feathers together. In Irish he is called “meigilín an aeir” – the little goat of the air.
  10. Crown it all by turning your binoculars on a majestic Peregrine Falcon as he soars inland from the sheer cliffs of Owey Island.
  11. Harvest your own dulce (dilisk) and carrageen from the rocks when the tide is out, and whet your palate on the wild sea-food flavour.
  12. Stand at the mouth of the shallow river, heels together, feet apart, and use this time honoured method to catch silver sand eels …… delicious when pan-fried.
  13. Look for samphire on the grassy shore beside Monument Island, and savour the wonderful aroma as you toss them on a pan with loads of garlic. Remember too that this same samphire would cost you a small fortune in the best Parisian restaurants !
  14. Dig a bucketful of fresh cockles at Monument Island and see can you spot a miss-spelled word !
  15. At the very ebb of spring tide try digging for elusive razor-fish. You will find that it is not so easy !
  16. Pick black periwinkles from the rocks on the west side of Cruit and steam them in their own juices.
  17. Use lugworm or limpet to catch specimen wrasse from rocky ledges over deep water. Turn of tide is best.
  18. Spin from the rocks for Mackerel and Pollock, and try out the sizzling taste of freshly caught pan-fried mackerel.
  19. Beach-cast for excellent Flounder, Dab and Dogfish.
  20. Pick a really calm day and becomethe first person in the world (apart from me!) to canoe all the way around Cruit Island.If it’s blowing from the west you could try canoeing around Seagull Island in the sheltered Kincasslagh Bay. Be most careful and take all due precautions.
  21. How about jumping off the pedestrian bridge leading into Cruit Island ?? There’s usually plenty of depth even at low tide ! Perhaps you might like to wear a wetsuit.
  22. Bring a book on wild flowers and see how many species of wild flower you can identify. There are over two hundred different species on Cruit Island including a profusion of wild orchids, primroses, sea-pinks, harebells, sea holly and juniper.
  23. Take up the challenge of the stunningly beautiful Cruit Island 9-hole golf course, and try for a hole-in- one at the truly spectacular par three sixth hole.
  24. Walk across the strand to the village of Kincasslagh and savour a pint in Iggy’s Pub.
  25. After your pint stroll down the winding road towards Kincasslagh Pier. The fourth house on the right hand side is Daniel O’ Donnell’s former house. Look out for his other former home on Cruit Island.
  26. Continue on towards Kincasslagh Pier till you come to a sandy beach. Now walk back across the strand to Cruit Island and your cosy thatched cottage. Make sure that the tide is still out !!!
  27. Sit out on the rocks at the cottages and marvel at the glory of God’s creation as the red sun sets over Owey Island. Capture it all on camera.
  28. Feel how small and insignificant you are as a storm gathers and the powerful waves pound the rocks, and balls of sea-foam float over the cottages like giant snowflakes.
  29. Master the art of lighting a turf fire and renew your relationship with your loved ones, as the driving rain pelts against the window panes and you sip a hot whiskey in front of your blazing turf fire.
  30. Take a last walk down the winding road from the cottages to the golf course.Stand with your back to the new clubhouse and gaze across the narrow strip of water to the deserted village on Owey Island. Feel the tug of mixed emotions as you see a way of life that has passed and will never be again.Think of the poignant quotation from “The Islander” “Ní bheidh ár léitheíd arísann” – “The likes of us will never be again”.
  31. Bring back a bunch of wild honeysuckle, meadowsweet, purple loosestrife,and present the sweet-smelling bouquet to a loved one.
  32. Return home from Cruit Island refreshed in mind and heart and soul and body.”Beir Bua” !!