Horn Head 'The Finest Headland'

view of horn head
Horn Head in the distance

Horn Head

Across the bay from Dunfanaghy is Horn Head, a peninsula which forms part of Sheephaven Bay. Horn Head shelters Dunfanaghy from the Atlantic Ocean and is an Irish Natural Heritage Area. R.L. Preger in his book ‘The Way I Went, states that Horn Head is the finest headland on the Irish coastline’. The cliffs on the rock rise to 620 feet. There is also the Marble March, a wonderful example of sea-carved rock. Like Ards Forrest Park, Horn Head is also an area of archeological fascination and has many remains of Neolithic stone circles, court tombs, passage tombs and prehistoric field boundaries. There is also ‘McSwine’s Gun’, an indentation of rock with a blowhole  which, when winds are right, sends a jet of water skywards with (until the 1980s) the boom of a gun.

Horn Head cliffs are an internationally recognised colony for breeding seabirds. It has Ireland’s largest mainland seabird breeding colony. There are gilllemots, gannets, puffins, shelldrakes, stormy petrels, speckled diver, choughs. Those interested in plant life will also find specimens of wild orchid and some sub-artic plants.

The LandLords House or Horn Head house as it is locally known, is situated on the front face of Horn Head just beyond the bridge as you look across from Dunfanaghy. It was commissioned by Captain Charles Frederick Stuart, who had fought on the side of King William in the Battle of the Boyne, to be built in 1701 after purchase from a man named Sampson. It was built on the site that a been a stronghold of Mac Suibhne of Doe and is  majestic piece of architecture of the time and still standing to this day despite the passage of over 300 years. Captain Stewart became High Sherriff of Donegal in 1707. His descended family remained here right up until 1934. Horn Head has remains of two lookout towers, one from Napoleonic times and one from World War II.


From the summit of the cliffs one has a spectacular view of Inishboffin Island  and Bloody Foreland to the west, Melmore and Malin Head to the east, and on the landward side a range of Mountains from Muckish to Errigal. On a clear day it is possible to catch a glimpse of Islay on the West of Scotland and the Paps of Jura.