About Rossnowlagh beaches
Ireland’s lush green, pastoral interior rolls out to some remarkable coastline, a stupendous symphony of rocky cliffs, vanilla sanded coves, dramatic headlands and pale blue inlets. There are plenty of rocky, castle- and chapel-dotted offshore islands, which act as havens for wildlife, as do the marshlands and wetlands that also characterise much of the coastal landscape. Wildest and most remote-feeling is the rollicking northwest coastline around Derry and Donegal, with the long beach of Rossnowlagh one of the jewels in this particular crown.
Rossnowlagh roughly means ‘Heavenly Headland’, and this 5km (3 mile) Blue Flag sand stretch is one of Ireland’s finest beaches, topped by blue skies. The awesomely blue Atlantic hauls in hoards of bathers and surfers, locals and day trippers, and the fine golden sand facilitates endless sandcastle building. There are lifeguards here in summer.
Beyond the beach:
Regional capital Donegal is an attractive town, a lively place with lots of pubs and a happening local music scene. It’s topped by a 15th-century castle that seems to have morphed into a manor house: it incorporates the tower of a fortified house. Both castle and mansion were built by the dominating O’Donnell family who were top dogs here until ousted by the English in 1607.
An old fashioned resort, there’s not much to Rossnowlagh other than the beach; its gentle rollers make it a surfer magnet, and when the sun shines there’s no better place to laze. There are also some wonderful coastal walks in the area. For neon, candy floss, seaside amusements, and yet more amazing surf, you can head 14km (8 miles) south. Here, at the resort of Bundoran, there are numerous surf centres, and you can also go horse riding from here. For watery fun outside the beach, there’s Waterworld (www.waterworldbundoran.com). A prettier nearby resort is Ballyshannon, set above the River Erne, a lively, friendly town with a good music scene, close to another Blue Flag beach.
The place to splash out near Rossnowlaugh is the Sandhouse Hotel (www.sandhouse.ie). It might be a bit dated, a kind of 1980s splendour (think four posters and whirlpool baths), but there’s no denying the comfort of the place or wonder of the views.