The first proper town you’ll come to on a drive south of Donegal Town is this busy, pretty little town, built on a hill, with a 15th-century town center. Some claim (rather dubiously) that Ballyshannon is the oldest town in Ireland, in part because traces have been found of permanent settlements dating as far back as 4000 b.c. Ballyshannon is also the location of Abbey Mills (071/985-1260), a heritage center and craft store. Part of a ruined Cistercian abbey, the mill still has a working waterwheel. (Opening hours vary—generally Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm, summer months only; entry is free, but leave a few coins in the collection box by the waterwheel, to help pay for its upkeep.) While you’re here, check out tiny Catsby Cave, about 50m (164 ft.) along the riverbank. During the years of British occupation, when Catholicism was outlawed (from the 16th until the mid-19th century), priests would give Mass here in secret. You can still see the remains of an altar, chiseled from the rock. Admission is free. Ballyshannon is known for its lively pubs, many of which have reliably good traditional music—never more so than during a weekend in late July or early August, when the streets come alive for the Ballyshannon Folk Festival (www.ballyshannonfolkfestival.com).
Donegal Bay Coast
Donegal Bay Coast› Attraction
Ballyshannon (Béal Átha Seanaidh)
Tourism Office: The Bridge, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal
Our Rating Neighborhood Ballyshannon is about 22km (13 1/2 miles) south of Donegal Town on N15 Phone 071/982-2856
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.