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Fanad Peninsula (or Fánaid) is on the north coast of County Donegal. To its east is Lough Swilly, with Inishowen Peninsula beyond. To its west is Mulroy Bay, with a pinch that is nowadays crossed by the Blaney bridge: this means that Rosguill Peninsula is easily reached, and is also described on this page.

The entire population of Fanad was estimated at 700 in 2016. There's nothing so grand as a town, but settlements along its east coast coming from Letterkenny are Ramelton, Rathmullen, Clondalon, Anny and Portsalon the main beach resort. Up its west side are Milford, Kerrykeel and Rosnakill. A surveyor of 1835 was told that "Fanaid extends from Rathmeltan to Mulroy Lough, but the natives of the Parishes of Killygarvan, Tully and Aughnish, who considered themselves civilised, deny that they themselves are of the men of Fanaid".

Get in[edit]

See Letterkenny for inter-city routes by air, rail and road.

Local Link Bus 300 runs from Letterkenny via Rathmelton, Rathmullen and Kerrykeel to Ballylar (70 min), with three Su-Th and five F Sa.

Gallagher's Bus 974 runs twice M-Sa from Letterkenny to Rathmelton, Millford, Carrickart, Downings and Doagh Glen, 75 min.

Swilly Ferry crosses the lough between Buncrana and Rathmullen. It carries cars and sails Jun-Sept daily every 80 min or so. In 2021 an adult foot passenger is €5 single, €7 return, and a car with up to 2 adults and three children is €17 single, €28 return.

Get around[edit]

Map of Fanad Peninsula

You need wheels to get around this scattered area. Take it easy, the roads are narrow and twisty, and not always in good repair.


  • 1 Killydonnell Friary is an ivy-wreathed ruin on the Swilly shore. It was founded in 1471 for the Franciscans. It was suppressed in 1603 with the Tudor conquest of Donegal but the graveyard remained in use.
  • 2 Knockalla Fort is one of the line of artillery batteries set up along Lough Swilly against attack by Napoleon. It was re-armed in the 1860s but abandoned in the 1870s, while several other batteries were retained well into the 20th century, just in case the sly Napoleon was biding his time. The fort is in surprisingly good repair, but that's because it's been converted into a private residence, and you'll have to make do with the view from the road.
  • 3 Portsalon is the main resort strip, with a golf course and long sandy beach. Its south extension is called Ballymastocker beach.
  • Greenfort House and gardens at Portsalon didn't open in 2021.
  • 4 Great Pollet Sea Arch is an islet just offshore. Follow the narrow lane signposted north of Doagh Beg village, then scramble down the hillside. You don't see it till the last minute, but it's worth the detour, as it's Ireland's largest natural arch.
  • 5 Fanad Head is reached by a scenic winding lane. The lighthouse was built after the 1812 loss of the frigate Saldana - the only survivor was the ship's parrot. The first light from 1817 had limited range and a more powerful light was installed in 1886. The three lighthouse keepers' cottages are available for self-catering.
  • 6 Harry Blaney Bridge, opened in 2009, carries the road across the outlet of Mulroy Bay, so linking Fanad and Rosguill peninsulas. Blaney (1928-2013) was a local politician. Seen 1 km to the west is Island Roy, linked by causeway to the mainland.
  • Doe Castle and other sights near Creeslough and further west: see Falcarragh.


  • Golf: Portsalon GC is a links course north end of Portsalon beach. White tees 6172 yards, par 72, visitor round €120.
Otway GC by the junction of R247 and R268 is nine holes and not open in 2021.
Rosapenna Hotel by Sheephaven Bay has three links courses: the Old Tom Morris, Sandy Hills and St Patrick's.
  • Gordon's Bay Equestrian[dead link] are off R245 towards Carrickart.
  • The Wild Atlantic Way is a coastal itinerary covering over 2500 km (1550 miles) from Malin Head on the Inishowen Peninsula to Kinsale in County Cork. The Fanad section is signposted and self-evident. In summer coming from Inishowen you can either travel via Letterkenny or take the ferry across the lough from Buncrana.


Portsalon beach path below, golfers cross above
  • Lidl in Millford is open M-Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 09:00-21:00.
  • Centra in Carrickart is open daily 08:00-21:00.


  • Blue Goat[dead link] on Shore Rd, Ramelton is a deli cafe open M-Sa 09:30-18:00, Su 10:30-18:00.
  • Bridge Bar in Ramelton didn't open in 2021.
  • 1 Ripples, Ranny, Kerrykeel F92 VX00, +353 74 915 0110. Daily 12:30-22:00. Pleasant relaxed restaurant with views over Mulroy Bay.
  • Narrow Quarter is a bistro and coffee house in Kerrykeel, open W-Su 09:30-17:30.
  • Lighthouse Tavern, Araheera F92 NN88 (1 km from Fanad Head lighthouse), +353 74 915 9212. Th-Tu 12:00-20:00. Great location for pub grub.


Killydonnell Friary
  • Traveller's Inn in Millford is open M-Sa 10:30-23:00, Su 12:30-23:00.
  • Beachcomber Bar in Rathmullen is open daily 13:00-02:00.
  • Village Inn in Kerrykeel is open Su-Th 12:00-23:30, F Sa 12:00-00:30.


  • 1 Mulroy Woods Hotel, Letterkenny Rd, Milford F92 TD4F, +353 74 915 3313. This hotel gets consistently good scores for comfort, service and dining. B&B double €130.
  • 2 Frewin House, Rectory Rd, Rathmelton F92 DW77, +353 74 915 1246. Wonderful little B&B in Victorian rectory. Open Apr-Oct, no children under 12 or dogs. B&B double €180.
  • 3 Knockalla Caravan & Camping Park, Portsalon F92 Y338, +353 74 915 9108. This park, open Apr-Sept, is in a great spot and normally gets good reviews. But in summer 2021 toilets and washrooms were locked and the place was dirty "because of covid". Tent €5, tourer €30.
  • 4 Portsalon Luxury Camping, Cashelpreaghan F92 V8X2, +353 87 601 6654. Five glamping yurts open Apr-Oct. No pets.
  • 5 Rathmullan House, Rathmullan Terrace, Rathmullan F92 YA0F, +353 74 915 8188. Superb country house hotel in Georgian mansion looking onto Lough Swilly, excellent dining. Open Feb-mid Dec. B&B double from €240.
Harry Blaney Bridge
Quiet Moments Campsite 500 m south doesn't describe its stressed-out owner. Mulroy Bay and McBride's sites didn't open in 2021.


As of Aug 2021, the signal is better on the west side, with mobile coverage by Eir and Three; here and there you might get 4G. The east side facing Lough Swilly has 4G from Three and Vodafone as far as Rathmullen. It's mostly dead elsewhere. 5G has not reached this area.

Go next[edit]

This rural area travel guide to Fanad Peninsula is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.