Things to See & Do whilst in Dunfanaghy, County Donegal

Please note, we are blessed with a wonderful, scenic location.  The only ‘draw back’ of our amazing views is the poor WiFi signal.  We offer FREE WiFi to all guests however, we cannot guarantee its dependability at present.  We hope you understand.

For everything you need to know about Dunfanaghy, visit:


The Shandon Hotel & Spa is the perfect base to explore the wild beauty of Donegal, we have chosen a few of our favourite things to do while you are with us, however, our staff have even more lovely ideas to make your stay memorable, so please, try them.

We will be delighted to welcome you to our beautiful county & excited to tell you about the wonderful things to see & do whilst you are here.

Detailed information & pictures on the following sites, places & coastal drives can be found at www.govisitdonegal.ie

1 – The Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way is a route that showcases the sheer magnificence of Ireland’s West coast from stunning headlands and beaches to colourful villages and towns all infused with the history, heritage and tradition of this rugged coastline. Visit craft-shops and culinary enterprises, snuggle in cozy tucked away pubs, find sanctuary in old monastic sites, let your heart beat in time with the Celtic rhythm, learn the histories and tales of ancient castles, pick up some words of Irish, swim, surf, fish, trek, dance and drive your way along this enthralling route.

Broken into four main regions and with 14 Route sections, with 3 in Donegal, you have the choice to discover parts or all of the Wild Atlantic Way! You decide…..

There are three of these Discovery Points here in Donegal at Malin Head, Fanad Head and the Sliabh Liag Cliffs.

Discovery Point 1

Malin Head, Ireland’s most northerly point, with the sea swelling on three sides and cliffs and rock formations carved over the millennia offers the visit that true sense of isolation while not too far for the world of today. Situated on the Inishowen Peninsula, Malin Head is crown on its tip by Banba’s Crown, named after a mythical queen. Rich in wildlife and seabirds from far off lands this is the perfect place to get your first taste of your WOW experience.

Discovery Point 2

Fanad Head is the second of Donegal’s Discovery Points on the Wild Atlantic Way. Here man’s presence and his ability to exist in even the wildest of locations is seen in the form of Fanad Head Lighthouse. Now automated, the 39 meter lighthouse, first shone its light on St. Patrick’s Day 1817 and has been the subject of many stunning photograph’s and paintings over the years. Stop a while and imagine what life was like in hurricane force winds on cold November nights nearly two centuries ago. As you gaze on the unforgiving waters of the Northern Atlantic you can capture a view of Tory Island 14.5km (9 Miles) out to sea.

Travel to this unofficial Island Kingdom by ferry from the picturesque harbours of Bunbeg or Magheroarty. The King of Tory will greet each ferry on arrival. Steeped in music, tradition and Celtic folklore, Tory Island is awaiting your footsteps on its ancient rocks.

Discovery Point 3

Sliabh Liag Cliffs (pronounced Slieve Leagueare truly an awe inspiring sight to behold. Relatively undeveloped they maintain the wildness, ruggedness and isolation that other Irish high cliffs sites have somewhat lost. Rising majestically from the Atlantic they reach a height of 1,972ft (601m) (that’s over 500ft higher than The Empire State Building in New York). From this Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point you must simply marvel at nature and its ability to create structures which dwarf the works of man. Should you wish to walk the ‘One Man’s Path’, at the cliffs summit, do so with care and a good head for heights. Following the Wild Atlantic Way signs will lead you to Sliabh Liag but should you lose your way just ask anyone for directions to ‘The Cliffs’. They’ll know where you mean and soon you will too.


2 – Beaches

If we get the weather in Donegal, there is nowhere more beautiful, even if we don’t, wrap up warm & soak in the fresh sea air.

At the foot of our hotel we are very lucky to have the stunning Marble Hill Beach.  In fact, The Shandon Hotel & Spa is the perfect base to explore the many beaches & sea Cliffs all within a short drive.

Marble Hill is an extensive sandy beach in a rural environment. The beach is situated in Sheephaven Bay which is of high value for wildlife. The dunes have many flowers and bird species and is one of the last areas in Ireland where you may hear the Corncrake calling.

The beach is used mainly by the local community and receives large numbers of visitors during peak times.

Marble Hill can be reached by taking the N56 north east from Cloghaneely towards the town of Portnablaghy. After Portnablaghy, take any one of three left turns to arrive at the beach.


For more information, visit http://www.govisitdonegal.com/do/blueflag-beaches

3- Ards Forest Walk

Just 5 minutes from the Shandon Hotel & Spa, we have Ards Forest.

A visit to Ards Forest Park will reward everyone at any time of the year. The park covers approximately 480 hectares (1200 acres) and includes a variety of habitats, among them sand dunes, beaches, salt marshes, salt water lakes, rock face and, of course, coniferous and deciduous woodlands. With such a variety of landscapes, it is possible to spend many hours exploring this wonderful park. The sea is one of the real treasures of this forest park and there are several trails, the Binngorm trail, the Salt Marsh Trail and the Sand Dune Trail, which offer the hiker an opportunity to experience it in all its facets.

Website: Ards Forest Park negal
Tel: +353 (0)74 9121139
Email: Bernard.obrien@coillte.ie

4 – Glenveagh National Park & Gardens


Again, just a short 15 minute drive from Shandon Hotel & Spa, Glenveagh National Park is one of six national parks in Ireland, encompassing some 16,000 acres in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains.

Glenveagh National Park is open all year round.

Castle, Visitor Centre and Gardens open every day apart from Good Friday and the Christmas period.

Glenveagh Visitor Centre

The Glenveagh Visitor Centre is located on the northern end of Lough Veagh, near the edge of the National Park. Its award-winning design incorporates a living heather roof mimicking the surrounding landscape causing minimum disturbance. The extensive displays contained within provide an introduction to the parks natural and built history as well as providing information on walking trails, events etc. Guides on duty will also be happy to provide visitors with information about the park and surrounding area as well as tickets for the park buses.

The visitor centre provides the following facilities:

Tourist Information

Car Parking

Audio Visual Displays

Bus Tickets


Baby changing facilities

Restaurant (Open at Easter and then June to September only)

Glenveagh Castle

Glenveagh Castle is a 19th century castellated mansion and was built between 1867 and 1873. Its construction in a remote mountain setting was inspired by the Victorian idyll of a romantic highland retreat. It was designed by John Townsend Trench, a cousin of its builder and first owner, John George Adair, with whom he had been raised in Co. Laois. The designer appears to have imitated the style of earlier Irish Tower-houses adding an air of antiquity to the castle. The building stone chose was granite, plentiful in Donegal but difficult to work and allowing for little detail. The forbidding architecture of the castle is quickly forgotten amidst the varied comforts within. Henry McIlhenny, the last owner of the castle, served the Philadelphia Museum of Art as Curator of Decorative Arts and his expertise in this field is evident throughout the castle. Through time, each room acquired a different character, some roughly in keeping with the period of the house, others freely inventive. Few of the great houses of Ireland are preserved in this condition, with their original furnishings, and in Glenveagh Castle one catches a glimpse of a lifestyle belonging to an earlier age. Access to the castle is by guided tour which last approx. 30 mins

Glenveagh Castle Tearooms

The tearoom is located in the castle courtyard and open daily from 11am to 5.30pm. Serving delicious homebaked scones, cakes, breads, soups and sandwiches, it is the prefect place to relax and take a break during your visit to the beautiful gardens or after your tour of the castle.


5 – Lurgy Brack Fun Farm


If its family fun you are after, just 25 minutes drive from the Shandon Hotel & Spa is Lurgy Brack Fun Farm.

Lurgybrack is a special place where all the family can spend the day together seeing animals and having fun. The centuries old farm building is home to range friendly farm animals that children can come face to face with. There is ample space to play safely, wander by the riverside, walk or just sit back and relax unwind with a snack from our tea room or have your own family picnic.

6 – Horn Head Drive

An absolute must whilst staying with the Shandon Hotel & Spa is a leisurely drive around Horn Head.  The hotel is located only 5 minutes from Dunfanaghy’s Market Square.

Starting from the Market Square in Dunfanaghy, drive up the street until it bends, and turn right, along the Horn Head Road. Go across the long bridge which crosses the inlet, and keep going until you come to a branch in the road. Turn LEFT.

You now climb quite a steep hill, and when you come to the top, turn RIGHT. Drive on for a kilometre or so, pausing when you can, to look backwards towards the mountains, and sea.

Soon you come to a junction in the road, with a right turn over a cattle grid. Take note of this junction, but do NOT turn onto it, instead keep going straight for another kilometre or so until you come to a small car park.

Park the car, and if you are able, climb the 100 metres up to the little lookout post.

From here you have a 360 degree view over everything that Donegal offers. Look out to sea to Tory Island, in the distance to the right is the most northerly point of Ireland, Malin Head. Turning clockwise, you see the Rosguil Peninsula, beaches, then the mountains, Muckish and Errigal, The New Lake, Tramore, and back round to Tory Island.

Returning to your car, drive down to the junction noted earlier, and turn sharp LEFT. This road goes round in a circle and brings you  back down to Dunfanaghy, passing several viewing points where it is definitely recommended that you pause. From the second of these viewing points it is possible to see six different beaches.


7 – Doe Castle

Within a 10 minute drive of Shandon Hotel & Spa…

Doe Castle on the shores of Sheephaven Bay near the village of Creeslough, dates from the mid 16th century and was the home of the MacSweeney Clan, who came to Ireland from Scotland and who ruled over much of the area at that time.

“… inside a battlemented bawn this substantial ruin of a well-fenestrated two storey residence is reinforced by a four storey square tower at one end and a shorter round tower at the other.  Gun ports abound in both castle and bawn walls.  In the 16th century when it was first built this was a MacSweeney stronghold and served as a refuge for ship wrecked sailors from the Spanish Armada in 1588.  During the following century it was captured and recaptured many times by both Irish and English until peace came to county Donegal in the 18th century when the fortress was converted into a country residence.”  From ‘The Intelligent Traveller’s Guide to Historic Ireland (Philip A. Crowl).

8 – Horse-riding

Ride the Wild Atlantic Way with Dunfanaghey Stables


9 – Golf

Dunfanaghey Goft Club is within short 5 minute drive of the Shandon Hotel & Spa.

Golf Packages

Shandon Hotel Discounted Rates 2018

Dunfanaghy Golf Club is an 18-hole true links course laid out in 1905 by six times winner of the British Open, Mr Harry Vardon. It is situated in County Donegal, 20 miles west of Letterkenny on the N56, along the beautiful north-west coast of Ireland and offers year-round golfing.


Donegal is the Links Golf Capital of Ireland. With five of the Country’s finest Championship courses.


  1. Surfing

Established in 2005 JAWS is Dunfanaghy’s original SURFING and WATERSPORTS provider.

JAWS Watersports was the idea of local surfer and waterman Donald Craig.

Having surfed for over 20 yrs in the North West he initially saw an opportunity ,among other things, to introduce surfing to the masses of Dunfanaghy and hasn’t looked back since!

In 2010 the business expanded to Downings with the opening of ‘Jaws II’ , in partnership with local windsurfer and sailor, George Kelly. So all in all JAWS WATERSPORTS is a one stop shop for all your ‘ watery ‘ needs. Be it:

  • Surfing
  • Sailing
  • Standup Paddleboarding
  • Kayaking
  • Windsurfing



11. Dunfanaghy Workhouse

The Dunfanaghy Workhouse was a traditional Workhouse offering respite for the poor from 1845 to 1922.  It was opened on the 15th July 1995 by Mary Robinson as a heritage centre and on 16th July this year The Workhouse will be open 20 years.  

Visit the Workhouse and meet Wee Hannah, as she struggles to survive the famine and her stay in the Workhouse.  Learn about the Workhouse and some history about the Sheephaven Bay Area.

There is a lovely coffee shop specialising in lovely home baking, a community playground, library and a range of facilities such as  free WIFI and internet access.

The Workhouse runs craft classes for children and adults, art exhibitions  and takes part in Festivals such as The Earagail Arts, Heritage Week and The Dunfanaghy Jazz and Blues.


12. Dunfanaghy Village

Dunfanaghy, situated on the beautiful shores of Sheephaven Bay on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Blue Flag beaches, and overlooked by the majestic Derryveagh Mountains of Donegal.

Within the village you will find every amenity imaginable for a superb holiday. For the active amongst us, there is a superb 18 hole links golf course, surfing and surf schools, horse-riding, hill walking, football pitches, etc, etc, and for the slightly less active there are beautiful sandy beaches for lying on and sand-castle-constructing, and then, for the rest of us, there are numerous bars and pubs and restaurants, offering food and wine, song and dance, and fun galore!

For more information on this lovely town & its upcoming events visit the website http://www.dunfanaghy.info/

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