If you have never visited Owey Island off the west coast of Donegal, you need to hurry- I’m not sure there is much time left in the season. However while most of the rest of Ireland was fairing pretty badly weather-wise this weekend, Owey was basking in sunshine.
Going ‘in’ to Owey as locals say, is a remarkable experience of visiting a small island community with old traditions, so treading respectfully- not least to avoid the corncrake nestling in the grass- is essential.
Small is beautiful and Owey certainly is both. Boatman Dan runs a relaxed and efficient service from Cruit Island and on the 5 minute dander from the pier to the clutch of houses making up Owey’s main street, you can savor the feeling of quiet remove.
With a carefully restored family home-guesthouse opened recently by islander Niall McGinley and a split level Swedish style loft conversion with outside patio run by Pauline & Frankie, there are a few choices of places to overnight. A map of all the nooks and hidden gems of the island in Gaelic adorns the wall of both Niall’s and Pauline’s places, as well as accounts of local history and wild-life.
We camped and explored the east side of the island by kayak with our group, a series of caves and rock channels getting higher and more dramatic the further along you go.
A group of climbers spent the day around the back of the island on what seems to be a series of largely un-climbed grades. Arriving a little too late the get the best of their fresh lobster and mackerel that evening, we joined a social gathering in Niall’s hostel while a campfire collective told stories and bonded at camp.
It is a world apart and a world away from everything else going on in life, and wider Donegal. But a real bit of the wilder side and ‘way it was’ (for all you children of the ’70’s) still remains for the chill-seeker on lovely Owey.