Visiting Killybegs and Donegal, Ireland via Cruise Ship

by Janis on July 25, 2017

Killybegs, Ireland harborThis was our first view of Killybegs in County Donegal, Ireland, as we arrived via Holland America’s ms Prinsendam as a port call on the 14-Day Celtic Explorer Cruise.

Since it was our first visit to this town of less than 1,300 residents, we had done a little advance research, captured in this post: 9 Interesting Facts to Know About Killybegs, Ireland. We had learned that Killybegs is situated on a natural deep water harbor, and is Ireland’s largest fishing port.

walk into Killybegs from Prinsendam cruise shipThe town’s connection to fishing and fish processing was evident as we walked from Prinsendam cruise ship into the town. Our first destination was the tourism office, which was easy to find on Shore Road. We were planning to book a local driver or small group tour to the Sliabh Liag cliffs that are just 12 miles from Killybegs, and are some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe, rising to 1,972 feet.

Unfortunately, being a small town, the local tour infrastructure was overwhelmed by the 835 visitors arriving from the Prinsendam cruise ship, and no tour spaces or drivers were available. We went for plan B, which was to take the public bus from Killybegs to the town of Donegal, about a 40-minute ride.

public bus between Killybegs and Donegal Town, IrelandThe bus stop is on Shore Road just past the Tara Hotel. While the bus route and timing is easily found with Google, we almost missed the bus. The reason: the public bus looks like a tour shuttle bus. When you get on, you tell the driver where you want to go, and the driver tells you the fare. The bus we rode both ways had a single row of seats on one side, with seats for two people on the other side.

The large picture windows offered good views, making the 40-minute ride through the scenic south coast of County Donegal pleasant. Our bus driver let us off at the Donegal Abbey Hotel, in the center of Donegal Town, and advised us the time to be back at the same location for the return trip.

Donegal, Ireland along the River EskeThe town of Donegal is situated along the River Eske. One of its main attractions is the O’Donnell castle built by Red Hugh and his wife Lady Nuala in 1474. While we did not pay to go into the castle, we did enjoy exploring the town.

Donegal Parish Church, Donegal, IrelandWe did pop into the Donegal Parish Church that is across the street from the castle. This church was constructed in 1828.

interior, St Patrick's Church, Donegal, IrelandWe also visited St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Donegal, enticed by the unusual medieval-looking exterior tower. The church’s interior, was however consistent with its 20th century construction.
Donegal, IrelandWalking around Donegal is pleasant for tourists as it is filled with shops of all types ranging from Irish woolen goods to fishing tackle.tea and pastries, Donegal, IrelandThere are many places to enjoy tea and pastries, while we did while writing postcards. Post box, Donegal, IrelandI mailed the postcards from this colorful post box.

Olde Castle Bar & Restaurant, Donegal Town, IrelandMr. Jones enjoyed the local decor at the Olde Castle Bar & Restaurant while sipping a local brew.

fish and chips, Olde Castle Bar & Restaurant, Donegal Town, IrelandThe restaurant served the most artfully plated fish and chips that we encountered throughout the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. Tasty, too.

After the bus ride back to Killybegs, we enjoyed catching up with friends and comparing our various adventures. Those who visited the Killybegs Maritime and Heritage Center in the former carpet factory gave it high marks.

sign in the Killybegs, Ireland cruise portAs we headed back to the ship, this road sign in the port area provided a chuckle.

Prinsendam sail away from Killybegs, Ireland

view from Prinsendam as sailing away from Killybegs, IrelandBest of all, our sail away out of Killybegs provided beautiful scenic cruising.

ms Prinsendam's sailing away from Killybegs, IrelandOne of the things we love about cruising on Holland America’s “elegant explorer” is the smaller ship’s ability to dock at smaller, more unique ports.

Have you visited Killybegs or Donegal Town in County Donegal, Ireland?

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