Dungloe is a village on the west coast of County Donegal. It's in a Gaeltacht area so its official name is the Irish An Clochan Liath - "the grey stepping stones". But Irish has dwindled here as the holiday cottages have multiplied, and only 15% nowadays have it as their main language. Dungloe is best known to the world for the 1936 song Mary from Dungloe, a sentimental refrain of star-crossed love, which is recalled in an annual beauty contest and festival.
Dungloe had a population of 1785 in 2016, so it's the largest village of The Rosses, the area separated by the Derryveagh Mountains from the rest of the county. "Rosses" means "headlands": grassy boulder-strewn peninsulas facing the Atlantic, with a scattering of islands beyond. Arranmore is the largest island and athough part of The Rosses it's described on its own page.
1 Donegal Airport (CFN IATA) has two flights daily from Dublin by Amapola Flyg and one flight M-Sa from Glasgow (GLA not Prestwick) by Loganair. The airport has car hire and taxis but no public transport. The Dublin flight is state-subsided: Amapola Flyg are a Stockholm-based air mail carrier who picked up the route in 2021 when Stobart Air folded.
Local Link Bus 271 runs from Letterkenny via Churchill, Glenveagh (for National Park), Dunlewey, Crolly and Loughanure, taking 1 hr 20 min to Dungloe and continuing to Burtonport for the ferry to Arranmore. There are three M-Th and five F Sa. Change at Letterkenny for buses from Derry, Donegal Town, Sligo, Galway and Dublin.
Local Link Bus 966 runs once in the morning M-F from Falcarragh via Magheroarty (for Tory Island ferry), Derrybeg, Bunbeg (for Gola Island ferry), Crolly and Loughanure, heading back from Dungloe in the afternoon.
2 Sweeney's Hotel is the main bus stop in Dungloe although the hotel itself is closed in 2021 for refurbishment, not a moment too soon.
3 Burtonport is where you take the ferry to Arranmore.
Town is small, but you need wheels to get around The Rosses.
- 1 Maghery is a village 5 km west of Dungloe with a fine sandy but exposed beach. The peninsula north is Termon, denoting a religious sanctuary, with a ruined church with 19th century gravestones. The islands seen just north are Inishfree Upper and Lower, nowadays uninhabited, with Arranmore Island further northwest. On the coast 2 km south of Maghery is the ruined Crohy Martello tower, built to warn of Napoleonic invasion, and Bristi sea-arch.
- 2 Arranmore is a 20 min boat ride and easy day trip, see separate page.
- 3 Kincasslagh is a scenic little village north along the coast. St Mary's Church (RC) is from 1854, and on R259 just east is its predecessor, the Mass Rock where services were secretly held during the "Penal" era. The village is best known as the birthplace in 1961 of the singer Daniel O'Donnell, who still lives nearby in Meenbanad.
- 4 Cruit Island (pronounced "crutch") is reached by a bridge, so it's effectively a 5 km straggly peninsula. There's a beach midway up its sheltered east side, and a golf course at the north tip.
- 5 Owey Island 500 m off Cruit Island has been uninhabited since the 1970s, though a few cottages are occasionally used as holiday homes. There's no ferry but it's within kayaking distance of Cruit.
- 6 Annagry or Anagaire is a small village near Donegal Airport with accommodation and a pub.
- Angling: Bonners on Lower Main St Dungloe can fit you up with tackle, permits and local gen. There's fly-fishing for trout Feb-Oct in the nearby lakes and rivers.
- Golf: Cruit Island GC is a 9-hole links course. Twice around is par 68, visitor €35.
- Earagail Arts Festival is held in July at various venues across the northwest of the county. The next event is 9-24 July 2022.
- Mary from Dungloe is an old-style beauty contest held in Dungloe at the end of July, with street parades and general hoop-de-hoop. The 2021 event was online and the winner Alannagh Nic Fhloinn won a trip to join the New York St Patrick's Day Parade. Dates for 2022 are tba.
- The Cope is a local supermarket at 35 Main St, open M-Sa 09:00-18:00: the name arose from a mispronunciation of "Co-op". There are branches in Annagry, Falcarragh and Kincasslagh.
- Supermarkets east side of town are Aldi, Lidl and SuperValu, all open daily till around 21:00.
- Bridge Inn (formerly Stepping Stone), Lower Main St F94 YN81, ☏ . Su-Th 12:00-00:00, F Sa 12:00-01:00. Lively place does burgers and simiilar pub grub.
- Butter Rock, 60-72 Main St, ☏ . Bright and cheery cafe.
- Lucky Inn is a Chinese restaurant opposite McCafferty's.
- McCafferty's (Bayview Bar), Lower Main St F94 AN25, ☏ . Daily 12:00-23:30. Good trad bar with food, now grown into a small chain.
- 1 Bonner's Bar, Mullaghduff F94 KH66 (1 km south of airport), ☏ . 24 hours. Atmospheric place, often has live music.
- 2 Leo's Tavern, Meenaleck, ☏ . M-F 17:00-00:30, Sa Su 13:00-00:30. This is run by the brother of Enya, the singer-songwriter Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin who was born in Gweedore in 1961. The original publican was their musical father Leo Ó Braonáin who died in 2016. The tavern is studded with Gold Discs and similar trophies of Enya's career with Clannad then solo. Customers highly rate the food, service and setting.
- Sharkey's is a popular bar in Annagry.
- Crolly Distillery makes whiskey in the former Crolly doll factory. Production started in Sept 2020 so it will probably go on sale in the run-up to Christmas 2023.
- Dungloe Caravan Park, Carnmore Rd, Dungloe F94 YY28 (junction with Gweedore Rd), ☏ . This tourer caravan and campsite didn't open in 2021.
- The Midway, Main St, Dungloe F94 XKV7, ☏ . Pub with budget rooms, value for money. B&B double €80.
- River House, Gweedore Rd, Dungloe F94 AP97, ☏ . Friendly squeaky-clean small hotel with five rooms in town centre, plus a self-catering flat. They offer bike hire. B&B double €110.
- Donegal Wild Atlantic Hostel, Garden Court, Gweedore Rd, Dungloe F94 E22D (next to River House), ☏ . Friendly efficient hostel by town centre. Dorm €30 ppn, private double €50.
- Waterfront Hotel, Mill Rd, Dungloe F94 W974 (200 m west of Main St), ☏ . Smart modern place by the pier, does good food. B&B double €120.
- Radharc An Oileain, Quay Rd F94 DV70 (200 m south of town centre), ☏ . Welcoming B&B with views over the bay. B&B double €90.
- 1 Carey's Viking House Hotel, Belcruit, Kincasslagh F94 HR60 (near bridge to Cruit Island), ☏ . Smart modern place with good restaurant and views towards the island. B&B double €100.
- Sleepy Hollows is a campsite and caravan park in Meenaleck 200 m north of Leo's Tavern, open year round. Adults only, 2-person tent €22.
- Danny Minnie's Country House, 1 St Mary's View, Annagry F94 X862 (on R259), ☏ . M-Sa 12:00-23:30. Upmarket restaurant with rooms in Annagry.
- Caisleáin Óir Hotel, Illannavoree, Annagry F94 WY03 (on R259), ☏ . Small hotel with great scores for comfort and dining. B&B double €90.
As of Aug 2021, Dungloe has 4G from Three and Vodafone, and a mobile signal from Eir. Coverage includes the approach highways - you might even get 5G from Three - but the mountains cut it off in town.
- Arranmore is reached by ferry from Burtonport.
- Tory Island is more remote, and reached by ferry from Magheroarty.
- Letterkenny is Donegal's largest town and transport hub.