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The Inishowen 100 is one of the best scenic drives in Ireland and gets its name from the approximate distance in miles of the signposted drive, which officially starts in Bridgend on the Inishowen Peninsula.
Inishowen is a peninsula of 884.33 square kilometres (218,523 acres), situated in the northernmost part of Ireland. It is bordered to the north by the Atlantic Ocean, to the east by Lough Foyle, and to the west by Lough Swilly. It is joined at the south to the rest of County Donegal, the part known as Tír Conaill, and by County Londonderry. This part of Ireland has the most splendid coastal scenery with Inishowen being one of the highlights. Historically, the area of Derry west of the River Foyle also forms part of Inishowen, the Foyle forming a natural border. Most of Inishowen's population inhabit the peripheral coastal areas, while the interior consists of low mountains, mostly covered in bogland, the highest of which is "Sliabh Sneacht" (from the Irish, meaning Snow Mountain) which is 619 metres (2,030 feet) above sea level. Other major hills are located in the Malin Head peninsula, the most northerly point of Ireland as well as the Urris Hills in west Inishowen. Due to its geography, Inishowen usually has soft weather conditions, with temperatures slightly lower than other parts of Ireland in summer, and slightly warmer in winter, especially during cold spells.
Looking across the mouth of Lough Foyle to Dunagree Point and Inishowen Head. Inishowen has several harbours, some of which are used for commercial fishing purposes, including Greencastle, Bunagee and Leenan. A seasonal ferry service crosses the Foyle, connecting Greencastle with Magilligan in Derry, while another crosses the Swilly, connecting Buncrana with Rathmullan. The village of Fahan has a privately built Marina.
While touring Ireland, there are several small outlying islands to view off the Inishowen coast, most notably Inishtrahull and Glashedy islands, both uninhabited, although the former was inhabited until the early twentieth century. Inch, located in Lough Swilly is technically no longer an island, as it has a causeway connecting it to the mainland at Tooban, south of Fahan.
Lough Swilly is a fjord-like lough, and was of strategic importance for many years to the British Empire as a deep-water harbour. It is also famous as the departure point of the Flight of the Earls. Lough Foyle is important as the entrance to the river Foyle, and the city of Derry, but is much more shallow than Lough Swilly, and requires the use of a guide boat to guide ships to and from the port of Derry.
A large area of land, most of which now forms part of Grianán Farm, one of the largest farms in Ireland, was reclaimed from a shallow area of Lough Swilly, stretching from the village of Burnfoot to Bridgend and Burt. The outline of this land is plainly visible due to its flatness proving a marked contrast to the more mountainous area surrounding it.
While on your Northern Ireland tour, drive along this northern rugged coastline taking in some of the most stunning scenery Ireland has to offer.
We enjoyed our trip to Ireland immensely. The hotel accommodations were all very nice, including the breakfasts. The locations worked out well, allowing us to walk to some destinations in each town.
One suggestion regarding the car rental: Driving in Ireland was very nerve-wracking, mostly due to the narrow roads (not to mention driving on the "other side" and the roundabouts). We purchased extra insurance, which was a very good idea as I put a large scratch on the side of the car, running into a wall on the Ring of Kerry. We lost the deductible (250 Euros) but it would have been much worse had we not purchased the extra insurance. I would recommend adding that into the car rental cost and giving the customer the option to decline - that way they are at least alerted to the possibility of incurring damage and what it will cost if they do. I am glad that we considered the possibility, but I think others may not. Also, I think the car rental companies should put strip of molding on the doors so that repairing something like a scratch could be done more cheaply. They told us the body work would be expensive as the scratch went across the two doors - but if there had been molding on the door, it would have been much easier and cheaper to repair.
The GPS was very useful. However we were not able to enter the coordinates, which was used for most of the hotel locations. We asked someone at a hotel for help and he wasn't able to enter the coordinates, either. Full addresses for the hotels should be included with the vouchers. We ended up finding the hotels by "trial and error" once in the towns.
I think that's about it for the "ugly". Most of the trip was beautiful and I would recommend your service to others traveling to Ireland.
Attached is a picture of me with the dancers statue in front of the Bru Boru Cultural Centre, near the Rock of Cashel.
Feel free to use it on your website - and let me know if you do.
All the best...Anne Stratton
Anne Stratton, Bethesda, MD, USA