Our Wild West
Cloughaneely, Gweedore and the Rosses, locally known as, ‘The Three Parishes’ make up a large part of west Donegal. Together they form a unique social and cultural region we know as the ‘Gaeltacht’. The first language of most people in the Gaeltacht is Irish although English is prevalent here too. The main economic drivers in the area are tourism, hospitality and fishing. The landscape is stunning and attracts visitors from all over the world.
Cloughaneely, also known as Cloch Cheann Fhaola, is the northernmost parish. Cnoc na Naomh, meaning Hill of the Saints, a mountain considered to have religious significance is a popular visiting point. It is said that Colmcille once stood atop this mountain with his companions and discussed the conversion of Tory Island to Christianity. Hailing from the area is the renowned Irish poet and playwright Michael Ó’Searcaigh.
Gweedore, or in Irish Gaoth Dobhair, is the middle of the three parishes. It is famed for its Irish culture and music, preserving old Irish customs and producing traditional music icons such as Enya, Clannad, Altan, Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Moya Brennan. Gweedore is a popular destination for tourists and students of Irish language. People travel from all over to attend the summer school at Coláiste Cholmcille.
The opportunity to marvel at the natural beauty of the Poison Glen/Dunlewey area on one side and the breath-taking Atlantic coastline on the other is also an important attraction.
Although the Rosses, or Na Rosa, was once predominantly Irish speaking, English has become increasingly common, particularly in the main town of the area Dungloe. This is also the largest town in the Gaeltacht and famous for hosting the annual “Mary from Dungloe”, attracting a worldwide audience. There are five islands attributed to the Rosses - Arranmore (Ireland’s largest inhabited island), Inisfree, Cruit, Owey Island and Iniscaoragh.
The region is also home to a successful indigenous chain of co-operative shops known as “The Cope”, founded by Paddy Gallagher in 1906. Among the influential people to have called the Rosses their home are former Ireland goalkeeper Packie Bonner, political activist Peadar O’Donnell, folk band Skara Brae and of course Daniel O’Donnell.