Inishowen Peninsula Inis Eoghain
The Inishowen Peninsula (Inis Eoghain, "Eoghain's Island") is the northernmost part of Ireland; its most northerly point is Malin Head.On the west side of the peninsula Lough Swilly, a broad arm of the sea, cuts deep into the land; on the east side is the great expanse of Lough Foyle, beyond which is Northern Ireland. At its northwestern tip lies Malin Head, overlooking the open sea. Inishowen is reached on the N13 from Letterkenny. The R238 encircles the peninsula.
Inishowen Peninsula Circuit
The Inishowen Peninsula is the northernmost part of Ireland; a circuit of this scenic peninsula is a rewarding experience.
The chief place on the Inishowen Peninsula is Buncrana, a popular seaside resort on the east side of Lough Swilly, with a 3mi/5km long beach, Lisfannon Strand (golf courses). Beautifully situated on the lough is O'Doherty's Keep, a well-preserved but architecturally undistinguished stronghold (14th/17th C.: National Monument). Beyond the bridge stands Buncrana Castle (by Vaughan, 1716), a handsome mansion with a beautiful interior, unfortunately falling into a state of disrepair.
Tullyarvan Mill, erected in the 19th C., stands at the edge of Buncrana on the road to Duncree Head. It has been carefully restored and now houses a community centre which includes restaurant and 52 bed hostel.
From Buncrana the best plan is to take the byroad which goes northwest to Dunree Head (beautiful view from lighthouse).
Gap of Mamore
The byroad going northwest from Buncrana to Dunree Head leads over a breathtakingly steep pass (gradients of up to 30%), the Gap of Mamore.
The magnificent scenery of the Inishowen Peninsula is best seen when traveling from south to north. At the north end of the road Dunaff Head has magnificent cliffs (much frequented by rock climbers) and beautiful views.
At Clonmany join the R238. 2mi/3km east is Ballyliffin, near the 2mi/3km long Pollan Strand.
In the dunes of the Doagh Peninsula are prehistoric rubbish dumps, in which highly interesting discoveries have been made. Picturesquely situated at the northern tip of the peninsula are the ruins of Carrickabrahey Castle.
The R238 continues on to Cardonagh, a little market town (shirtmaking), a few hundred yards (meters) west of which, by the roadside, are three Early Christian monuments (all scheduled National Monuments),
Among the Early Christian monuments at Cardonagh is a eighth century cross, one of the earliest in Ireland. The shape of the cross is only hinted at, following the Celtic interlace ornament; in the lower half is the figure of a man with extended arms, flanked by smaller figures; and the back also has interlace and a human figure. On either side of the cross are smaller stones with reliefs of David with his harp, a bird, a man with two bells and other devices. Other monuments can be seen in the churchyard at the rear.
3mi/5km north of Cardonagh is Malin, from which the R242 leads past a handsome 18th C. mansion, Malin Hall (1758), to Malin Head, with magnificent cliff scenery.
0.75mi/1km west of Cardonagh is Hell's Hole, a narrow gaping chasm which, with an incoming tide, is awesome to behold.
From Malin Head a long range of cliffs up to 790ft/240m high extends southeast to Glengad Head.
South of Glengad Head is Cludaff, a fishing center (sea trout).
Near Cludaff is Clonca, which has a ruined church, a fine but badly weathered high cross with a representation of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, two male figures and geometric ornaments, and a finely carved tombstone (National Monuments).
Carrowmore High Crosses
At Carrowmore there is a group of high crosses (National Monuments).
From Carrowmore the R238 continues southeast to Moville, a popular resort on Lough Foyle. From here there is a ferry service (only in summer; cars not carried) to Oban in Scotland.
2.5mi/4km northwest of Molville lies Greencastle, with the ruins of a large castle (1305: National Monument). Nearby is a Martello tower of 1810 (now a hotel).
From Moville the R241 goes northeast to Inishowen Head, from which another range of magnificent cliffs (with views of Northern Ireland on the far side of Lough Foyle) extends northwest. The cliff scenery and the beautiful valley of Glenagiveny attract many visitors.
From Inishowen Head, the circuit of the peninsula can be completed by following the R238 along the shores of Lough Foyle to Muff (border crossing to Londonderry in Northern Ireland) and continuing west on the R239 to rejoin the R238 south of Burnfoot.Due to Muff's location, the town has experienced great growth as people from Northern Ireland move across the border. Muff is also notable for its renowned diving center on the outskirts.
Inishowen - St Aengus Church
At the intersection of the R238 with the N13, to the south of the R239, stands a notable modern church dedicated to St Aengus (by MacCormick and Madden), a circular structure with a ring of windows and a curving tent roof surmounted by a glass pyramid. Its form may have been influenced by the Grianán of Aileach (National Monument), 2.5mi/4km away to the south.
Grianán of Aileach
Grianán means "Palace of the Sun." This imposing circular stone fort, 2.5mi/4km south of St Aengus Church, is commandingly situated on a 790ft/240m high hill, surrounded by three concentric earth ramparts. The windowless wall, constructed without mortar, is 17ft/5m high and 13ft/4m thick at the base, and encloses a grass-covered area 79ft/24m across, entered through a low doorway. The wall is terraced on the inside, with steps leading up to the three terraces, and within the thickness of the wall are small chambers and passages. The period of construction of the fort, which was the seat of the kings of Ulster from the fifth to the 12th C., is unknown. It was extensively restored in 1870; a black line distinguishes the original work from the restored part above it. From the walls of the fort there are breathtaking views over the plain and Lough Foyle, the mouth of the River Foyle, Lough Swilly and the rocky Inishowen coast in the Republic.
3mi/5km northwest of Griánan of Aileach lies Fahan, on the shores of Lough Swilly. In the old monastic churchyard adjoining a modern church is a very ancient cross-slab (eighth century), with two crudely carved figures flanking a cross of elaborate interlace work; on one of the edges is a Greek inscription (a rarity in Ireland).