Gleann Cholm Cille - Glencolmcille

Folk Village with view of Glen Head, Glencolmcille, County Donegal, Ireland

"The back of beyond" is one way Glencolmcille has been described. Glencolmcille is nestled deep in the northwest corner of the island of Ireland. It is the Irish equivalent of a dead end. The road literally stops here - any further and you hit the Atlantic Ocean! Explore the beauty of Glencolmcille click here

It is not surprising that Glencolmcille is rarely on a standard itinerary of the Irish countryside. You need to be determined to get here. However, the stark beauty of the landscape has been attracting visitors for over 1500 years, while farming people are known to have been settled in the valley as far back as 3000BC. There are many remnants of these settlements and visitations visible to this day.

Stone carving - the Glen AngelGlencolmcille owes its name to St. Columba, one of Ireland's three patron saints, who came to this far flung glen in the 6th century. The name Glencolmcille, or "Gleann Cholm Cille" in the Irish language, literally means "The Glen of St. Columba's Church." Monuments of the early Irish Christian era are numerous: the standing stones emblazoned with Christian crosses, the ruined cells and even the place names are a reminder that the parish was a place of monastic activity perhaps as early as 450 AD.

Fine beaches and cliffs make for excellent hiking in all directions. A five mile walk southwest from Cashel, in Glencolmcille village, leads to Malinbeag. This coastal area was once notorious for smuggling. A trip to the Silver Strand will reward you with stunning views of a gorgeous beach surrounded by rocky cliffs, and maybe with a swim in its calm, crysal-clear waters. Glen Head, a peak identifiable by the Martello tower at its peak, can be viewed from the Folk Village and is an hour's walk from Cashel through lands rich in prehistoric ruins, including St Columba’s Stations of the Cross.

Glen Head, Glencolmcille, County Donegal

If you decide to stay in Glen for a while, accommodation to suit all tastes and budget can be found through the Tourist Information Office located in the Lace House, Cashel. If you would like to find out more about the Irish language and culture, or join in a week of painting, Oideas Gael run courses throughout the summer. You can even combine an Irish language course with hill-walking, or join the local hill walkers group, Sliabh Liag Walkers. Walk the Turas, or pilgrimage, encompassing a round of megalithic tombs, natural features and cross pillars known as ‘Stations’, or enjoy a seisun of traditional music in one of the local pubs. For musicians there are also Donegal fiddle classes, workshops and traditional music courses in the area. Further afield, golf is available at Narin and Portnoo Golf Club and surfing in Dungloe, Rossnowlagh, and Bundoran.


Slieve League Cliffs / Sliabh Liag

Slieve League's cliffs reach almost three times higher than the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare. The Belfast naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger wrote in 1939:

"A tall mountain of nearly 2000 feet, precipitous on its northern side, has been devoured by the sea till the southern face forms a precipice likewise, descending on this side right into the Atlantic from the long knife-edge which forms the summit. The traverse of this ridge, the "One Man's Path", is one of the most remarkable walks to be found in Ireland - not actually dangerous, but needing a good head and careful progress on a stormy day.... The northern precipice, which drops 1500 feet into the coomb surrounding the Little Lough Agh, harbours the majority of the alpine plants of Slieve League, the most varied group of alpines to be found anywhere in Donegal."

Slieve League sea cliffs, Donegal, Ireland

Photo courtesy of Conal McGinley /

Slieve League is often photographed from Bunglass. It can be reached by means of a narrow road that departs from Teelin. The final few kilometers of this memorable route is built along a precipice and includes several places where it turns at the crest of a rise. In clear weather there is a dramatic view of Donegal Bay, and Ulster's highest sea cliffs. Slieve League is a short twenty minute drive from the Folk Village.

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Shops, Fuel, Restaurants and Pubs in Glencolmcille village

  • Two stores sell general provisions; one also sells fuel.
  • There is a sit down/take-away café next to the Tourist Office.
  • A licensed family restaurant (An Chistin) is located next to Oideas Gael, a short walk from the Folk Village.
  • There are two pubs, which feature traditional music sessions in the summer.

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There is a wide availability of accommodation options within walking distance of the Folk Village from Dooey Hostel (074 9730130), Ionad Siul Guesthouse, self-catering cottages to B&B and pub rooms. See for more information.

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  • There is a doctor in Carrick / Glencolmcille. Telephone: 9739380
  • The nearest hospitals with full facilities are in Letterkenny (1h 25m) and Sligo (1h 51m).

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  • Glen Bay Beach, opposite the Folk Village
  • Silver Strand beach, a short drive along the Coast Road (R263).