It’s probably fair to say that Ireland isn’t chosen as a sunshine holiday destination. It is chosen because of lush green landscapes, ancient history and heritage, friendly locals and for some – the wild Atlantic weather. The saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”, often true for Inishowen. But with your coat buttoned up and your bobble hat on, nothing will clear away the cobwebs as fast as an exhilarating walk along an Inishowen beach against a bracing wind that whips wild horses into the frenzied ocean waves.
However, for the days when you’d rather leave the weather outside, the following itinerary highlights Inishowen’s many indoor activities that you can enjoy on a rainy day. Additionally, there are multiple restaurants and cafés and family-friendly pubs that welcome children accompanied by their parents.
Church of All Saints/All Saints Church
Starting at Newtoncunningham you can begin your tour by visiting the beautiful Roman Catholic Church of All Saints. A unique piece of architecture, designed in the shape of a boat to represent St Peter’s Barque, which was a powerful symbol of the early Christian church. It was built in 1999, using local stone and features stained glass and murals by local artists. The village takes its name from John Cunningham from Ayrshire in Scotland who was among the original settlers to be granted lands in this part of Donegal during the Plantation of Ulster.
Interestingly, there is also an All Saints Church of Ireland in Newtoncunningham but this building is considerably older. It was originally a Chapel of Ease built in 1722 by local landlord William Forward. The building was completed and consecrated on All Saints Day, 1st November 1722. The tower was added in 1808.
The Lych Gate is an unusual feature of All Saints Church, although common in England, there are only four or five in Ireland. The lych gate is a covered gateway used for sheltering coffins on the way into the Church on wet funerals days. The word “lych” derives from the Saxon word “lic”, meaning body. This one has carved into it the inscription “I am the Resurrection and the Life”.
Old Church Visitor Centre
At the rear of the An Grianan Hotel you will find the Old Church Visitor Centre. Situated inside an old converted church, this delightful little interactive visitor centre displays some of the latest multimedia technological exhibits surrounding the mythical Tuatha De Danann Race of Gods and Warriors. It also focuses attention on the Grianan of Aileach Ringfort plus the local heritage and culture of the surrounding area.
From Newtoncunningham continue along the N13 toward Burt for about 7km.
St Aengus’ Church (Burt Chapel)
A little further along the N13 you will find the beautiful St Aengus’ Catholic Church. This architectural ‘masterpiece’ was designed in 1967 by Frank Corr and Liam McCormack who took their inspiration from the Grianán of Aileach ring fort. It was the winner of the RIAI triennial Gold Medal award (1965-67), and was voted Building of the Century in a RIAI poll in 1999. Its circular shape symbolises the ‘circle of life’ and represents inclusiveness and equality for the congregation. Some of its unique features include; the curving copper sheet clad roof with the off-centre roof light above the altar, a beautifully curved plastered ceiling and the stunning stained glass windows designed by Helen Maloney in the Cubist style. The stones used on the outside of the church are recycled cobblestones salvaged from the Derry Docks.
Keeping the children entertained on a rainy day can be particularly challenging but taking them to Buncrana will certainly help to put the smile back on their little faces. Here you will find Wainsworld Indoor Pay Area where they can jump, run, climb and slide to their hearts content. There is a café there too for kiddy snacks and tea or coffee for mums and dads too.
The Busy Brush
For those that are feeling crafty, Busy Brush is a drop-in art centre in Buncrana town centre, providing the perfect environment for children to get creative, express themselves and have fun! Artists from 2 – 102 years of age are welcome to come when they want and stay as long as they want.
From St Aengus’ Church – head west on the N13 to Bridge End. At the roundabout, take the first exit onto the R238 (‘Inishowen 100’) and continue till you reach Buncrana. At the roundabout, take the second exit and follow McCarter’s Road till you see Aldi supermarket on the right. Take the small road on the right immediately before Aldi leading up to a small industrial estate where you will find Wainsworld.
From Wainsworld – head back to McCarter’s Road. Turn left and follow the road for about 200m. Take a right turn on to Millbrae. At the top of the road take a left turn and move into the right lane. After100m turn right onto St Mary’s road and follow the one way system into the town centre. Take the first right off Upper Main St onto Church Street to find The Busy Brush at number 5.
Enjoy the latest film release whilst experiencing a little bit of Buncrana’s history in the wonderful vintage style, single screen cinema. Originally built as St Mary’s church hall in 1904, this well maintained building displays a distinctive pastiche Baroque facade.
From The Busy Brush – Head southwest on Church St toward St Marys Road. Take a right turn and drive for about 250m where you will find Buncrana Cinema on the left side.
Dunree Military Museum
On Dunree Head you will find the fascinating Dunree Military Museum. Perched majestically on a rocky outcrop overlooking Lough Swilly, this fascinating museum demonstrates the vital role that Fort Dunree held in coastal defence and neutrality protection with a complete expose of coastal artillery and many other military artefacts and memrobilia. Newly developed hillside walks enable visitors to get breathtaking views of the Atlantic and Fanad Head while the local cafe boasts to be ‘The most scenic coffee shop in Ireland’. The monastic site of Desertegney is dedicated to St. Columba and the area is one of spectacular scenery overlooking Lough Swilly. In the distance lie the Urris Mountains; the famous Gap of Mamore.
From Buncrana Cinema – Take the second exit from the roundabout onto the R238 and follow the ‘Inishowen 100’ drive in a north westerly direction for about 3.5km. Take a left turn at the with the signposts for ‘Inishowen 100’ and Dunree Military Museum. Continue for 8km.
Equestrian Centres – Indoor Arenas
Throughout the peninsula you will find Equestrian centres, all with indoor arenas. If you love horse riding what better way to enjoy a rainy day.
Tullagh Bay Equestrian Centre
From Dunree Military Museum – make your way back onto the ‘Inishowen 100’ drive from and continue towards Clonmany, making sure not to miss Mamore Gap. At a little over 800ft [244m] above sea level this mountain pass is at its best in good weather but is still spectacular, even on a rainy day.
In Clonmany village, follow the road signs for Tullagh Bay Strand where you will find Tullagh Bay Equestrian Centre close by.
Glendowen Studio & Art Galleries
For those interested in crafts and enjoy a little shopping visit Glendowen Craft Shop. Ann McGonigle has created an Aladdin’s cave of beautifully hand crafted tweed garments and accessories, all designed and made by Ann using the finest Donegal Tweeds and yarns. In addition she stocks various other crafts from some of Ireland’s best craftsmen and women.
From Tullagh Bay Equestrian Centre – return to Clonmany village.
From Clonmany village – follow the R238 towards Buncrana for about 4.5km where you will find Glendowen Craft Studio on the right.
Doagh Famine Village
Take the walking tour through this authentic, thatched village as Pat tells you the story of Irish life from the Great Famine of the 1840s through till the present day. He’ll amuse you with local sayings, customs and traditions that have been passed down through the generations and you’ll only have to dodge the rain drops when moving between the cottages.
From Glendowen Craft Studio – return to Clonmany village. At Centra Supermarket take a right turn and continue along the R238 toward Carndonagh for about 4.5km. Take a left turn when you see the sign for Doagh Famine Village. Continue to follow the signs for about 4.5km.
Spraoi agus Spórt
This is an award winning social enterprise based in Carndonagh, Inishowen, Co. Donegal providing excellent social, recreational and educational activities for the community which are focused on family development. Spraoi agus Spórt provide a wide range of after-school, weekend and holiday time activities for children, including children with disabilities, morning and afternoon parent and toddler and preschool classes and evening classes for teenagers and adults.
From Doagh Famine Village – return to the R238/Inishowen 100 drive. Turn left at the junction and proceed to Carndonagh for about 8km. Take a left turn at the end of Bridge Street and continue on the R238/Inishowen 100 drive till the roundabout. Take third exit and turn into Supervalu Supermarket car park where you will find Spraoi aus Spórt.
Equestrian Centres – Indoor Arenas
Malin Stables is the next equestrian centre that you will find on your tour.
From Spraoi agus Spórt return to the roundabout and take the third exit onto the R242/‘Inishowen 100’ drive in the direction of Malin. As you approach Malin Town you will find Malin Stables on your right hand side just before the 10 arched stone bridge.
Inishowen Maritime Museum and Planetarium
Close to the Lough Foyle ferry landing at Greencastle and on the WAW route, the Inishowen Maritime Museum has an extensive collection of artefacts, and exhibitions of all things maritime. There is also a full dome planetarium theatre running 5 shows each day; Astronomy, Prehistoric Sea Monsters and Our Global Climate, and the children’s favourite – Enchanted Reef! Children’s shows are suitable from 4yrs. Other amenities include: A café, Nautical gifts & fishing tackle shop and there is ample Car/Coach Parking.
From Malin Stables drive across the 10 arched bridge and turn right onto the R243 heading for Culdaff. Then follow the R238 towards Moville. At the end of Malin St, turn left at the junction onto the R241 and continue till you reach Greencastle Harbour and the Maritime Museum on the right.
If you are interested in hand thrown earthenware, spend a while in the Moville Pottery which is owned and run by Lowry Wasson and his partner Brian McLaughlin. They have designed and created all of the beautiful clay items on display in the showroom. You can also visit their studio to watch them throw an unattractive lump of clay onto the potter’s wheel and magically turn it into a thing of beauty. Or let your children (or yourself) choose an item of unglazed pottery to paint for themselves. After it has been fired in the kiln by the experts, the item can be collected when ready or it can be shipped onwards to your home.
From Inishowen Maritime Museum, return along the R241 to Moville. Continue on in the Derry direction on the R238 till you see Moville Fire Station on your right. Take a slight right turn at the fire station and continue to drive for about 600m where you will find Moville Pottery on the left.
Equestrian Centres – Indoor Arenas
Cooley Equestrian Centre is the third of our horse riding arenas.
From Moville Pottery – head northeast for 1.8km then take a left turn. After 600m turn left again and after 80m you’ll find the stables on the right hand side.
Situated adjacent to the Redcastle Hotel, Leisureland is recognised as one of Ireland’s leading Indoor Fun Parks. Catering for children of all ages, they offer a safe and secure environment loaded with fun. With indoor activities such as Dodgems, Small Car Track, Ball Pool and the Ladybird Ride it’s no wonder it’s popular with the whole family.
Redcastle Hotel & Spa
Whether living locally or visiting the area what better way to spend a rainy day than to enjoy a luxurious spa treatment for an hour or even a whole day! Cara Organic Beauty is more than just about the treatment. It is about the welcome, the calming scents, the caring hands, the soothing lights and colours, the soft towels, the deep cushions and the refreshing teas and fruit. It is more than just about the body; it is about the mind and the spirit and all of you.
Enjoy the extensive menu of treatments for beauty, healing and relaxation; sumptuous treatment rooms; quiet relaxation areas and first rate leisure facilities.
From Cooley Equestrian Centre – turn right heading toward the Lough Foyle for about 3km. At the R238/’Inishowen 100’ drive, turn right and continue toward Derry for 7km where you will find the Redcastle Hotel and Leisureland.