Tourism

Ten Biggest Irish language Attractions

Gweedore, Co. Donegal

Gweedore stretches some 16 miles from Meenaclady in the north to Crolly in the south and around 9 miles from Dunlewey in the east to Magheraclogher in the west, and is Europe’s most densely populated rural area. It’s officially the largest Irish-speaking parish in Ireland with a population of around 4,065, and is also the home of the northwest regional studios of the Irish language radio service RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, as well as an external campus of National University of Ireland, Galway. Gweedore consists of villages Bunbeg, Derrybeg, Dunlewey, Crolly and Brinalack, and it sits in the shade of Donegal’s tallest peak Mount Errigal. Gweedore is known for being a cradle of Irish culture, with old Irish customs, traditional music, theatre, Gaelic games and the Irish language playing a central and pivotal role in the lives of the local people. This, along with its scenery and many beaches, has made the area a popular tourist destination, especially with visitors from Northern Ireland. Gweedore lies between Cloughaneely and the Rosses, collectively known locally as the three parishes, together they form a social and cultural region distinct from the rest of the county, with Gweedore serving as the main centre for socialising and industry.

Ranafast, Co.Donegal

Ranafast is a village and townland in the Rosses, Co. Donegal. Irish is the daily language of the local people. The area is famous because of the famous Irish language writers, Séamus Ó Grianna and Seosamh Mac Grianna, and for the music group Skara Brae. There is a lot of respect for the sen-nós singer Connie Mhary Mhicí Ó Ghallchóir also. The area is a Gaeltacht ( Irish speaking ) and as a result of this crowds of students come to the area from throughout Ireland to learn Irish. Coláiste Bhríde is Irsih language college in the area. The area is famous for its marching band. The band was formed in 1976 and has won a lot of prizes. The band won the first prize in the all- Ireland Fleadh Cheoil 3 times and were declared ‘champion of champions’ when they scored 100 out of 1000 in 1989. In 1997 they were declared ‘champion of champions’ in classical music. The band split up in 2000 but reformed again in 2008.

Tory Island, Co. Donegal

Words alone, no matter how finely woven, could never give a true impression of the rugged beauty of Tory, the indominatable spirit of its people or their rich cultural inheritance. Tory must be visited if one is even to begin to understand why this remote crag, two and a half miles long and three quarters of a mile wide, holds such an attraction for its inhabitants that they, like their forebears, endure the full fury of the North Atlantic winter for pleasure and the privilage of living here in summer.

Tory’s spectacular cliff scenery is complemented by a rich and varied history which is related in the islanders distinctive Gaelic. Colm Cille figures prominently in the history of this sacred island which he chose as a place of retreat and meditation for his monks. Shipwrecks, poitín smuggling and tales of violent storms have also been drawn into its folklore.

Nevertheless, it is neither the myths, the monastic ruins nor even the majestic cliffs which make the deepest impression on visitors to Tory. It is the islanders themselves, like all people who live in remote places and work hard to make a living, the islanders know how to enjoy themselves and they always make a stranger feel at home.

Gaeltacht Mhúscraí

Territory: The area of Múscraí is situated in one of the most beautiful places in the country. It is in the South West of the country, in County Cork. The Shehy mountains (1797) and the river Lee act as a border in the South, and in the South West Lough Gougane and its mountains (1989),in the West and in the North there is the Derrynasaggart mountains and as a border in the West there is Gearagh as part of the river Lee beside Macroom.

Culture: Irish has been the language used through the ages, but Latin and Greek were also used as well, especially in the ‘Hedge schools’, that were plentiful throughout the area. As a result of the famine in 1845/1847 the population fell greatly and there was a lot of immigration. It was the workers and the small farmers that suffered the most from this, and it is true to say that they continued with old traditions and with Irish.

The Feiseanna have been a great aspect of Gaeltacht life through the years, with competitions for sean-nós singing, music, dance , drama, poetry, storytelling etc. Through the years we ahve seen teachers and other fervent individuals doing their best to promote the Irish language. They organised classes, seminars,scripts and dramas- people like Dónal Bán Ó Céilleachair, Seán O Ríordáin, Dónal O Ceocháin, Pronsias O Ceallaigh, Eamonn O hOrgáin, Séamus O Sé and lot of other people. Without doubt, Seán Ó Riarda made his own thing out of Gaelic music and he composed many new pieces also.

Festivals like drama festivals, the Muskerry O’ Flynn Bard school that was founded in 1924 as an imitation of the poetry visits from a couple of hundred years ago. The gathering has happened each year around Christmas without a break to this day.as have Éigse Dhiarmuid Uí Shúilleabháin, Ghlóir Cheoil Chill na Martra, Daonscoileanna Bhéal Atha’n Ghaorthaidh etc as part of Gaelic life, and this attracts many visitors to the area each year.

Arann island

Arann island is situated 3 miles out from the North West Donegal coast. The island used to be called Ára Uí Dhomhnaill when the Ó Domhnaill clann were in power in the middle ages. The Gael were destroyed in the Ulster Plantation in 1609. In the middle of the seventeenth century most of West Donegal including Arann island were awarded to William Conyngham, the landlord who built and lived in Slane Castle. In 1855, John Stoupe Charley captured the island.

He built a residence (The Glen Hotel) for himself, he built a protestant church and he started the first school. When the landlords reign came to an end, the Land Commission of Ireland took possession of the lands in 1893 and gave them back to the people of the island. 529 people live on the island. It is a beautiful island with loughs, cliffs and long white beaches. There is a lot to do on the island.

Inis Oírr

Inis Oírr (Inishere) is the smallest and most beautiful of the Aran Islands. The nearest island to the mainland, it is set in glistening crystal clear blue atlantic waters and boasts an amazing beach, rare plants and flowers and a wealth of breathtaking scenery.

On this island you can see a traditional way of life practised by an Irish speaking community of around 250 people. The Celtic culture and the beauty of the place will add a distinct flavour to this very special place.

Cultúrlann Mac Adam Ó Fiaich- Belfast

An Chultúrlann on its three floors, contains space for artistic and theatrical expression, a café, a tourist information office, community radio and the north’s largest dedicated Irish Language and media book and gift shop. An Chultúrlann is the jewel in the crown of Belfast’s emerging Gaeltacht Quarter.

Live traditional and contemporary music sessions, poetry readings, céilís, concerts, workshops and the children’s arts programme are just some of the reasons why An Chultúrlann is recognised as the Belfast Irish Experience. An Chultúrlann continues cultural traditions and develops them further through classes, workshops and performance.

Cultúrlann Uí Chanainn- Derry

Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin is a purpose built Irish language arts and cultural centre. It is part of the An Gaeláras group and opened new premises in Great James Street, Derry on 4th September 2009. The new building is a space for learning, creativity, exploration and enterprise and a beacon for the Irish speakers throughout the island of Ireland. It is a hub for a variety of different organisations throughout the Northwest region. Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin features;

  • a multipurpose Arts centre including classrooms, youth club and 200 seat theatre (An Croi)
  • Irish language bookshop
  • Café
  • Business incubation suite
  • Office space

The new building heralds the beginning of a new era for the Irish language and culture in the North West region, greatly improving the facilities available and increasing the services on offer.

Glencolmcille

Tucked into the rugged landscape of Southwest Donegal, Gleann Cholm Cille (or Glencolmcille) has been a symbol of hope and success to other emigration-drained areas since the 1950s. Here, by valuing both tradition and innovation, a small community has maintained its cultural vitality.

Gleann Cholm Cille is a joy to visit at any time of the year. Both shore and hills change dramatically with the seasons, heightening the attraction for the walker. At night some of Ireland’s leading musicians play in quiet pubs and accomplished singers draw on an extensive repertoire of local song. Long after the bow is put away, when the dancing feet are still and the last song sung, you will remember Gleann Cholm Cille.

Carraroe

An Cheathrú Rua (or Carraroe) is situated on a peninsula between Casla Bay and Greatman’s Bay, 40km west of Galway city. Féile an Dóilín’s sea-based events take place on Greatman’s Bay, or Cuan an Fhir Mhóir as it is known in Irish.

The area is renowned for its sailing and maritime heritage, and also for Trá an Dóilín, a coral strand which has achieved Blue Flag status. The Irish language is the principle language spoken in the region, and it is well known for its music and sean-nós singing. Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, a division of NUI Galway, is located in An Cheathrú Rua, as well as two Irish-language summer colleges. The national Irish-language newspaper, Foinse, is also located in the village.

As well as a maritime history, the area also has a rich cultural history, particularly in song and dance. The renowned singer, Tomás Mac Eoin, comes from An Cheathrú Rua, and it was for many years the base of artist, Charles Lamb.