Glenties (Na Gleannta) is a town in the west of County Donegal, which as its name suggests is at the confluence of two scenic glens. In 2016 its population was 805. Also described here are Ardara (Ard an Rátha, population 732) and the beach resort area around Portnoo and Naran.
McGeehan Coach 991 runs twice M-Sa and once in college term on Sunday from Letterkenny to Fintown, 1 Glenties (50 min), 2 Ardara and Killybegs. The afternoon bus continues to Kilcar, Carrick and Glencolmcille. It doesn't use Letterkenny bus station but starts just outside from the fish & chips shop by the roundabout.
The main bus stop in Glenties is on Main St outside Costcutter, and in Ardara at the bend in the road by the Nesbitt Arms.
You need a car, or to be a keen cyclist. Don Byrne in Ardara hires bikes, open Tu-Sa 10:00-18:00.
- St Connell's Museum, Mill Rd, Glenties F94 V258, ☏ . M-F 11:00-15:00. The sort of museum that should be put in a museum. The Courthouse next door, built in 1843, is still in use.
- St Connell's Church (RC) on Mill Rd is a striking building of 1974. The roof slants almost to the ground, is it meant to be a pyramid, tent, dolmen, skateboard ramp or mountain? It won an architecture award, which is not necessarily good news for its users. The C of I church a block west of Main St is a sober affair of 1825.
- 1 Kilclooney More is a small village with a collection of prehistoric megaliths. The three best are Portal Tomb Dg 68 west side of R261, Court Tomb Dg 69 to its north, and the large Portal Tomb Dg 70 on the moor east of the road.
- 2 Lough Doon Fort is a stone ringfort, age unknown, on an islet in Lough Doon. In 2021 the fort is closed for conservation work but you can admire it from the shore.
- 3 Dawros Head can be reached along the lane through Magheragallon. The old signal station is just rubble, but a little way east are the remains of a medieval settlement, with a well-preserved corn-drying kiln.
- 4 Maghera Beach is 12 km from Ardara. It's a long sandy beach and the cliffs are riddled with sea caves: some you can reach on foot from the beach, others you need a kayak. 500 m before the beach car park is Assaranca waterfall. The lane continues up into the hills and after 2 km is Owenree River waterfalls. All these falls are cascades rather than sheer. The lane eventually joins R230 to Glencolmcille.
- 5 Fintown Railway, Fintown F94 FR90, ☏ . Jun-Sept Th F 11:00-14:00, Su 12:30-16:00. This is a station-yard and rolling stock of a 3 ft (914 mm) gauge railway, which once wound up hill down dale across Donegal, hauled by An Mhuc Dhubh or The Black Pig. Trains set off towards Glenties every 30 min or so, but actually don't get very far. Every heritage railway society has ambitions of extension, but this ingenious lot do so with a twist: here's your pickaxe, get navvying, and experience life as your Irish ancestors did, in a muddy trench on the outskirts of Glasgow! Adult £2, child £1.
- Golf: Narin and Portnoo Links are in Naran F94 F433 on the coast 10 km nothwest of Glenties.
- Fishing on the Owenea River needs a license, which several shops can supply. Sea angling is also available.
- Canoeing: Gweebarra Canoe Club meet year round on the Gweebarra Estuary, 9 km away.
- Surf at Dooey Beach, a quiet break with consistent surf.
- Gaelic games: Naomh Conaill GAA play football at Church Rd, Glenties.
- Sheskinamore Nature Reserve is a scenic wildlife sanctuary 20 km away, on the Rosbeg Peninsula. It borders two beaches with great views of Donegal Bay.
- Walks: GAP Trail follows a former bogcutter's railway 2 km outside Glenties, a pleasant short walk.
- Bluestack Way is more challenging, crossing the Bluestack Mountains from Donegal Town and Lough Eske. From Glenties it continues along River Owenea to Ardara.
- Slí na Finne is a loop around Fintown Lake and Ballinamore, heading into the Bluestack Mountains and The Croaghs.
- Back lanes lead from Doochary on the Gweebarra Estuary to Fintown.
- Bluestack Ramblers often organise walks that visitors can join.
- Ardara Walking Festival is in March around St Patrick's Day, dates for 2022 are tba.
- Fiddlers' Weekend is in Glenties at the start of October. The next is probably 31 Sept - 3 Oct 2022, tba.
- Macgill School is an international series of lectures, based in Glenties but increasingly online. The next is 27-29 Oct 2021.
- Glenties has Costcutter, open daily. The Bank of Ireland has an ATM.
- Ardara has Centra, open daily. Triona sells tweed and knitware on Ardara Main St, open M-Sa 10:30-17:00, Su 12:00-17:00.
- Glenties has The Thatch Bar, K2 Spices, Ali's Char Bar and Pal's Pizza.
- Ardara has Taj, Mickalene's, Great Wall and Charlie's West End Cafe.
- Portnoo has Michelangelo's within the golf club, and Boyle's Cafe.
- Glenties bars include O Faolain, Sonny's, Roddy's and Leo McLoone's.
- Ardara has The Beehive (below), Corner House, Teague's, Nancy's and Doherty's.
- The Beehive, Main St, Ardara. Daily 12:00-23:00. Lively pub with beer garden and food.
- Portnoo has Annora, with Barretts 1 km south.
- Highlands Hotel, Main St, Glenties F94 NT67 (The deep blue one), ☏ . This dog-friendly hotel gets great reviews for comfort and cooking. In 1960 Brendan Behan was staying, and in the early hours of the morning the police raided because the bar was serving well after hours. (The police station was right next door.) When the magistrates learned that the drink was privately served to assist Behan's "literary work", the case was swiftly dismissed. B&B double €130.
- Brennan's B&B, Main St, Glenties F94 X7TH (The rose terracotta one), ☏ . Comfy central B&B with excellent breakfasts. B&B double €90.
- Marguerite's B&B, Main St, Glenties F94 XH66 (The deep terracotta one), ☏ . Clean friendly B&B in village centre. B&B double €80.
- 1 Station House, Station Road, Glenties F94 AE68 (The railway brick one), ☏ . Pleasant welcoming B&B. B&B double €90.
- Campbell's Holiday Hostel, Mill Rd, Glenties F94 EA09 (The white one down an alley), ☏ . This didn't open in 2021.
- Nesbitt Arms, The Diamond, Ardara F94 X0RN, ☏ . Friendly comfy hotel with restaurant. B&B double €90.
- Ardara B&Bs also include Drumbarron House.
As of Aug 2021, Glenties and Ardara have 4G from all Irish carriers, though the signal is patchy away from the towns. 5G has not reached this area.
- Glencolmcille west on the peninsula has prehistoric and early Christian sites.
- Donegal Town is the main base for exploring the south of the county.
- Dungloe is on the rugged "Rosses" coast.