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Clean Coasts Ocean Talks and Ocean Hero 2017

The Clean Coasts programme was delighted to host Ocean Talks with our Ocean Hero Awards on 21st November 2017 at the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin. 
The presence of marine litter in our oceans is a global concern that requires action.  Adequate measures are needed to address the impacts of litter in the marine environment both at sea and on land whereby public awareness and community action plays a vital role. The Clean Coasts Ocean Talks and Ocean Hero Awards brought together key stakeholders in the area of marine litter such as coastal communities, NGOs, tourism bodies, the science community, business and the fishing industry.

Beckey-Finn Britton, Clean Coasts Officer for Donegal and Leitrim, with David Friel, Coastal Officer Donegal County Council at the Ocean Hero Awards ceremony in  the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin on Tuesday.
 Ocean Talks Speakers:

Dr Easkey Britton, NUI Galway, Big-Wave Surfer: Dr Easkey Britton, founder of Like Water, is a big-wave surfer and marine social scientist at NUIG. Her work explores the relationship between people and the sea, using her passion for the ocean to create social change and connection across cultures. She is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at NUI Galway co-leading NEAR-Health.

Dr Yvonne Lang, Sligo Institute of Technology: Dr Yvonne Lang is an assistant lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences in IT Sligo. Yvonne's doctoral research explored the potential use of marine organisms for pharmaceutical industry related applications. Her current research interests include marine microorganisms and microorganism-microplastic interactions.

Soibhan Faulker, Clogherhead Development Group: Siobhan and her family are active members of the Clougherhead fishing industry and community. Siobhan volunteers and chairs the Clougherhead Development Group. The group are the local drivers for participation and award winning local and national success on a number of key initiatives such as Tidy Towns, Louth Looking Good and Pride of Place. The Clougherhead Development
Group work closely with the local fishing fleet on these initiatives as well as industry specific initiatives such as BIM’s Net Recycling and Fishing For Litter.

This year Clean Coasts’ Ocean Hero Awards was celebrating eleven years of honouring the invaluable contribution Ireland’s coastal communities have made towards conserving our spectacular coastline. The awards, originally known as the ‘Merit Awards’, were conceived in 2006, consisting then of only one category, ‘The Clean Coasts’ Group of the Year’.  Since then the Clean Coasts’ programme has grown to engage over 600 Clean Coasts groups, becoming embedded in many coastal communities nationwide. In an effort to recognise this growth the number of Ocean Hero categories  have also expanded to include, Individual of the Year, Bright Idea of the Year, School of the Year, Business of the Year and Beach Clean of the Year.

Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager with An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit said “Over the past 11 years the Clean Coasts programme’s Ocean Hero Awards have really brought to the fore the remarkable work and wonderful coastal celebration events that Clean Coasts volunteers have been involved in along the Irish coastline. This year has been no different as we received inspirational nominations that show the true dedication of these coastal custodians.”

The Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Award Winners 2017 are as follows:

1.      Maharees Conservation Group, Kerry      Ocean Hero Award - Group of the Year
2.      Seamus McGoldrick, Strandhill, Sligo       Ocean Hero Award - Individual of the Year
3.      NorthWest Coastal Clean Ups, Leitrim     Ocean Hero Award – Idea of the Year
4.      St Colman’s Community College, Cork     Ocean Hero Award - School of the Year
5.      Galway Atlantaquaria, Galway                  Ocean Hero Award - Business of the Year
6.      Creevy Co-Op, Donegal                              Ocean Hero Award - Beach Clean of the Year
7.      Clean Coasts Ballynamona                        Ocean Hero Award – Outstanding Achievement Award

For more information on any of the above winners please see the attached Ocean Talks and Ocean Hero Brochure or contact Clean Coasts for more information.

Clean Coasts is operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce and is funded by the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government and Fáilte Ireland.

Members of Creevy Co-op receiving the Ocean Hero Beach Clean of the Year Award at the awards ceremony in the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin on Tuesday.

About Clean Coasts

Clean Coasts engages communities in the protection of Ireland’s beaches, seas and marine life. The programme is operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce and is currently funded by the Department of the Housing, Planning and Local Government and Fáilte Ireland.

Clean Coasts has grown over the years and now includes two main national clean-up drives – Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week and the Big Beach Clean. Our volunteering has expanded to include Corporate Volunteering and the Ocean Hero Awards also. Other aspects include the Green Coast Award, the Love Your Coast Photography competition, the Clean Coasts Roadshow for coastal communities and we are continuing to grow the Clean Coasts programme with the likes of Ocean Talks. The programme also operate several campaigns in Ireland including Think Before You Flush and international campaigns #2minutebeachclean and Beat the Microbead.  The Clean Coasts volunteering effort engages communities in the protection and conservation of their local coastal environment. There are currently over 600 registered Clean Coasts groups. There are a variety of group types such as community groups, residents associations, tidy towns groups, sports clubs, schools, businesses, universities etc. Clean Coasts organises hundreds of beach clean-ups annually mobilising thousands of volunteers, removing considerable quantities of marine litter from Ireland’s beaches and waterway.  www.cleancoasts.org

Keep Cruit Clean

Keep Cruit Clean was established in January 2016 and ever since then they have had a beach clean on the first Sunday of every month. They have removed over 140 bags of litter from the island along with some larger items such as old caravans in 2016 alone. They have also carried out dune conservation work and education by planting marram grass with pupils from the local national school. The group has been blessed to have true ocean heroes like Diana Doherty among them. And, indeed, one of the group’s proudest elements is the diversity of participants with an age-range of 6 months to 80+ years old, locals and visitors alike. The group strongly believes that, ‘these beaches are not yours or ours, they are everybody's’. And it is for this reason that they continue their amazing work on the island.

Northwest Mountaineering Club
The Northwest Mountaineering Club was established in 1955 and carried out their first beach clean of  Pollaguill Beach, Horn Head in Donegal in 2015. This beach remains almost completely untouched except when the club and local farmer get together to tackle the marine litter washed up. During the first cleanups here, it took 2 events in the year to get it clean and now the group is dedicated to visiting it once a year to remove a year’s worth of marine litter. This mammoth task involves hiking in and spending hours cleaning the beach filling massive bags that get taken back across to a collection point with thanks to the local farmer who joins in on the cleaning as well. Not only do they do this but they also find the energy to hike around Horn Head afterwards!

 Creevy Co-op

Creevy Co-op carried out a clean-up of the 10 mile coastal walk from Ballyshannon to Creevy in Donegal for World Oceans Day during Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week in 2017. There was a fantastic turn out of diverse volunteers who worked in small groups to tackle marine litter. A huge volume of litter was lifted from the scrub, beach and rocky shore of the walk. Not only was this a great cleanup but also a huge amount of effort and co-operation was needed to make it such a success. Castle Adventure Farm provided the group with access across their farmland as well as refreshments afterwards; several volunteers picked up litter from many collection points; there was a lot of organizing to get the maximum spread of volunteers and follow-ups to make sure everyone's litter was collected. This meant a few hours cleaning was a whole day operation for the group who carried it out seamlessly.   www.creevyexperience.com

It’s official! Donegal is now the Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland ...

It’s official! Donegal is now the ‘Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland’ and we even have the certificate to prove it.

Michael Collins, founder and Managing Director of TravelMedia.ie presented this prestigious award to Donegal County Council Chief Executive Seamus Neely and Cathaoirleach Cllr. Gerry McMonagle at the recent Donegal Tourism Seminar in Harvey’s Point Hotel.

“This is an excellent achievement for Donegal and a wonderful addition to our other recent accolades including being named ‘Coolest Place on the Planet 2017’ by National Geographic Traveller and ‘Ireland’s Hidden Gem’ by Independent Travel readers” says Cathaoirleach Cllr. McMonagle.

Michael Collins, TravelMedia.ie presenting Seamus Neely Chief Executive, Donegal County Council and Cllr. Gerry McMonagle Cathaoirleach with the prestigious Travel Media award where Donegal was named at the ‘Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland’ at the Connecting the Coolest Place’ Donegal Tourism Seminar on Thursday (26 October 2017) in Harvey’s Point Hotel.

Donegal received this prestigious award at the Travel Media Awards ceremony in Dublin last June but it was only at yesterday’s conference that the award was officially presented.   These Travel Media awards have grown to become one of the highlights of the annual travel industry calendar and calls on the media to vote and give their say on who they think stands out from the travel industry crowd – past winners include Aer Lingus, MSC Cruises and Crystal Ski Holidays. To be voted as the ‘Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland’ is testament to the increasing popularity of Donegal as the perfect holiday destination on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Michael Collins said “This was the first time we introduced this category. Instead of always asking the media about their favourite international places we thought, let’s bring it back home and ask them about Ireland. It was really interesting to see Donegal win, with the capital Dublin coming second.”

Speaking on Thursday, Seamus Neely said he was thrilled that Donegal has been recognised by the travel media sector and said that “we have been building positive relationships with the travel media in recent years through our work with Donegal Tourism and the Donegal County Council Communications Office in promoting the govisitdonegal.com platform and our Donegal brand. This award is a welcome sign that our communications and PR activities are reaching the right audience and our recognition as ‘Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland’ is very much appreciated”.

Participants attending the Donegal Tourism Seminar

Over 200 attendees participated in the Donegal Tourism Seminar which was hosted in the stunning setting of Harvey’s Point Hotel on the beautiful Lough Eske.   This seminar focused on how best to connect what is now the ‘Coolest Place’ and heard from a line up of tourism and travel experts who shared their expertise on emerging travel trends, tourism strategies and marketing techniques. 

This included Mathew Jackson Managing Director and Publisher of National GeographicTraveller (UK) who is credited with naming Donegal as the Coolest Place on the Planet in 2017.  Matthew visited Donegal for the first time earlier this year and became an instant fan. 

Speaking at the seminar he explained why Donegal received this accolade saying “Donegal is off the mainstream radar and not easy to access but on the cusp of a breakthrough. On the one hand you have the big pushes like the Wild Atlantic Way and the recent filming of Star Wars; on the other hand you only have to drive a few miles to have a beach or a road completely to yourself. It’s a warm hearted place, fantastic food and hospitality but wilderness always feels just a stone’s throw away.  And it is a world class wilderness.  So we thought it deserved a big year!”.

Speakers at the Connecting the Coolest Place’ Donegal Tourism Seminar on Thursday (26 October 2017) in Harvey’s Point Hotel from l to r:  Seamus Neely, Donegal County Council, Carolynne Harrison, The Shandon Hotel, Matthew Jackson, National Geographic Traveller UK, Joan Crawford, Failte Ireland, Cllr. Gerry McMonagle, Cathaoirleach, Greg Fry, Michael Collins, TravelMedia.ie and Liam Ward, Donegal County Council.

The seminar also heard from inspiration speakers including Carolynne Harrison, General Manager of the Shandon Hotel & Spa who wowed the audience with her remarkable story of how she tackled the ‘weaker months’ by being creative and driving up occupancy in the winter and maintaining the jobs of over 120 staff and managing costs to ensure profit margins were on target. 

Social media and digital experts Greg Fry, Co-Founder of Content Plan and Michael Collins enthused the audience with their practical tips and techniques of making social media and digital marketing work for tourism businesses in Donegal.  They believe that content remains king and having clear business goals and a clearly defined strategy producing measurable results is essential for success.

Wild Atlantic Way Client Services Manager for Fáilte Ireland Joan Crawford presented a profile of the Wild Atlantic Way visitor and why they are coming to the west coast of Ireland.  Market research shows that these visitors have no itinerary and they are ‘going where time took us’ drawing on their spontaneous side and looking forward to finding the hidden gems off the beaten track.  This provides a great opportunity for places such as Donegal which for many is still a place of discovery.

The seminar concluded with a strong message from each of the panellists which highlighted the need to continue to collaborate and network.  It is the Donegal experience that visitors want when they come to Donegal and there is a clear willingness among those in the Donegal tourism sector to work together to ensure that Donegal becomes the number one tourism destination in the country.

The Waterfront Hotel Dungloe - The Rosses' First Four Star Hotel

The Waterfront Hotel Dungloe, which opened its doors last year, are delighted to announce that they have received four star status from Fáilte Ireland. Although the hotel has been operating to a four star standard since its inception in August 2016, it was just this week that the hotel's grading became official. The award means the Waterfront Hotel, Dungloe becomes the first hotel in Co. Donegal to open as a four star for almost two decades.

Mary Mc Ginley (Hotel Director) and family: Michael, Bridgit, Tara and Conor
The Waterfront's General Manager, Joseph McColgan and director Mary McGinley invited staff to an impromptu champagne reception at the hotel this afternoon where the news was shared that all the hard work and dedication had paid off and that the hotel was now officially a four star property. Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher and Fáilte Ireland were also singled out for their dedication and support. Mr McColgan also paid tribute to the people of Dungloe and surrounding areas for their support of the hotel over the last year. The Waterfront's proprietor, Kevin Boyle also thanked the team and guests of the hotel from his home in Chicago.

Martina Rafferty (Sales & Marketing Manager) , Pat The Cope Gallagher, Mary Mc Ginley (Hotel Director) , Joseph Mc Colgan (GM) and Bengi Conmy (Executive Chef)
Situated at the site of the former Ostan Na Rossan hotel, overlooking the beautiful Dungloe Bay, the Waterfront Hotel has a brand new look and feel designed to demonstrate a contemporary and forward thinking position on the Wild Atlantic Way. Owner Kevin Boyle along with his cousin Patrick Boyle, have outlined ambitious plans for the very near future of the hotel, focusing on further development including the luxurious, eco-friendly Inis Spa and Health Club. Work is also due to begin very shortly on an extensive organic garden that will supply the hotel with probably the freshest local produce of any professional kitchen in the country.

The Waterfront Team Group Photo
Marketing Manager, Martina Rafferty joined the Waterfront Hotel team almost 6 months ago, offering vast knowledge in the hospitality sector and a wealth of experience from former 5 Star Luxury Leading Hotels of The World.  In a very short space of time Martina has developed a new web site, grown occupancy levels, set up direct target marketing campaigns for the property and steered the hotel in the right directed to achieve the 4 Star grading.  The 4 star property is leading the way and going from strength to strength!   

To celebrate this achievement the hotel has a special overnight package for further details call the Waterfront Hotel reservations team on + 353 (0) 74 95 22 444. Joseph wished to convey a sincere gratitude to the long hours and hard work of the entire Waterfront Hotel team and a special thank you to Bengi Conmy and his team on their achievement of Best Newcomer at the recent Irish Restaurant awards and best seafood chowder award at the Donegal Food Coast.   

For all things Donegal check out: www.govisitdonegal.com

Mary Mc Ginley (Director), Joseph McColgan (GM), Martina Rafferty (Sales & Marketing Manager) 

Donegal’s only 5 star hotel among the top ten hotels in Ireland

Lough Eske Castle, a Solís Hotel & Spa

“No. 3 in the Top Hotels in Ireland category”

October 17, 2017 – Condé Nast Traveler announced the results of its 30th annual Readers’ Choice Awards with Lough Eske Castle, a Solis Hotel & Spa recognized as the No. 3 in the Top Hotels in Ireland category.

Lough Eske Castle, a Solís Hotel & Spa
Image © Lough Eske Castle, a Solís Hotel & Spa

Managing Director of Lough Eske Castle, a Solis Hotel & Spa, Mr Seán Carney commented: “It is a great honour in this our tenth year of operating for Solís Lough Eske Castle to be recognised with such a prestigious industry leading award as this. It is a true testament to the daily hard work and dedication by our team of exceptional employees delivering reliable, genuinely caring and timely service superior to our competition. There has been incredible resilience and fortitude over the years by such a magnificent cadre of staff to weather the economic times that have passed but we look forward to a great and exciting 2018. This recognition just goes to reinforce our beliefs and service excellence model - to be truly a Global Leader in the service business.”

Over 300,000 readers submitted millions of ratings and tens of thousands of comments, voting on a record-breaking 7,320 hotels and resorts, 610 cities, 225 islands, 468 cruise ships, 158 airlines, and 195 airports

The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry and are commonly known as “the best of the best of travel.” Under Editor in Chief Pilar Guzmán, the Readers’ Choice Awards have become more selective and specific to the passions that inspire today’s travelers. The Readers’ Choice Awards are announced in the November issue of Condé Nast Traveler, on newsstands nationwide on October 24, 2017. The full list is published exclusively online, at www.CNTraveler.com/rca

Lough Eske Castle a Solís Hotel and Spa, is Donegal’s only 5 star hotel, owned by Harcourt Developments based in Dublin, and property managed by Capella Hotel Group. The celebrations are set to continue as the hotel will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this November. It has been an exciting year for the hotel and is honoured to be accepting this prestigious award just in time for its birthday celebrations.

Despite opening at the beginning of the financial downturn, Lough Eske Castle has seen revenues double, operating at €9.5m today and has recently benefited from a €500k investment into the property.

Since 2007 occupancy has grown by 38% and the average room rate by 43%, with international guest stays increasing by 15%. Opened 365, the castle is one of the largest employers in county Donegal and over 70% of staff are from Donegal.

The five-star Lough Eske Castle, a Solis Hotel & Spa is located just outside Donegal Town, nestled within 43-acres of forest woodland hugging the shores of Lough Eske. Boasting 96 spacious guestrooms, Spa Solís and swimming pool, Cedars Restaurant and two bars, Lough Eske Castle, a Solís Hotel & Spa is redefining the meaning of luxury in the North-West of Ireland.

For all things Donegal check out: www.govisitdonegal.com

The National Geographic Traveller Festival 2017

The people of Donegal have always known that there is something different about this often forgotten part of Ireland, something unique and indeed something very special.

So when an iconic brand that is known globally for its endorsement of places that are filled with exceptional wild natural beauty, combined with all the additional elements that a visitor needs in order to find an experience that goes above and beyond the normal run of the mill travel experience - the World takes notice!

Pat Riddell, Editor of National Geographic Traveller UK (NGTUK) & Maria Pieri, Editorial Director of NGTUK delivering the opening address at the 2017 festival in London.

The fact the Donegal was named, in December 2016, by National Geographic Traveller UK (NGTUK) as the ‘The Coolest Place’ to visit in 2017 is no coincidence; a momentum has been building in this ‘Forgotten County’ for many, many years now.

This influential effect has been reaching outwards and making people more than a little bit curious about, what is considered as a far flung part of Ireland, that travellers are all too often told, is much too difficult to get to.

Pól Ó Conghaile is an award-winning travel writer. He writes for National Geographic Traveller, is travel editor for Independent.ie and Weekend Magazine. Pól was instrumental in recommending Donegal for the Cool List 2017
The epicentre of this influence has been the warmth of welcome that the people of Donegal give to visitors. People make a place and people make memories for visitors. The interaction between those that visit this fine county and those that call it their home, is one of the most enduring memories that visitors can take away from their time here, but there are also many more elements that National Geographic feel makes Donegal the coolest place to visit 2017.

All across the county, from Slieve League to Malin Head, from Stroove to Tory island and indeed everywhere in between, the local people on the ground have been busy elevating Donegal’s global profile to a point where it is, indeed worthy of the title of the ‘Coolest Place’ to visit in 2017.

In Donegal visitors can connect and immerse themselves in what is the wildest part of the Wild Atlantic Way, they can experience the landscape, the history, the built heritage and many of the excellent outdoor activities that are on offer, be those land or water based.

Seamus Neely (Chief Executive, Donegal County Council) Matthew Jackson (Managing Director of NGTUK), Bren Whelan (Donegal Climbing) & Barney Mc Laughlin (Head of Donegal Tourism) at the 2017 NGTUK Festival. 

Across Donegal, a World wise visitor can find an amazingly diverse range of accommodation and sustenance. This is an area that Donegal excels in, from self-catering to B&B’s, hostels to hotels, from farm to fork and through to the freshest seafood dishes, Donegal is amassing a phenomenal trophy cabinet and we should tip our hats to all those working so hard in this vitally important sector of tourism, cause their dedication and attention to detail is a key element in the tourism cycle.

A feast not only for the eyes! This is the work of chef & lecturer Tim Dewhurst of LYIT School of Tourism Killybegs. LYIT are playing a key role in developing food tourism in Donegal.

Equally, creating a permanent tangible connection to the unique Donegal landscape, that lasts beyond a visitor’s time here is critical when the experience and the interactions become somewhat faded, the tangibility of a bond to the destination for a visitor is an essential part of their experience in order to draw their minds eye back to their time here.

This forms a bond, that rekindles the experience and helps to pass on the yearning to return once more to the coolest of places. When a visitor can touch and feel a quality Donegal product, be that a blanket, craving, pen, painting, pottery, tweed scarf or hat to name but a few, their connection to this destination is complete and it is also where the value of those that work across this county to produce the most amazing of Donegal products helps to provide that lasting tangible link in the Donegal experience.

Zoe Mc Intyre, National Geographic Travel writer and author of the 2017 Donegal supplement.

All of these points came across very strongly in our discussions about Donegal at the NGTUK festival and people spoke with passion and emotion about their time in Donegal, in a manner that transcends other travel destinations. This to me, affirmed that Donegal is indeed a very special place to visit and in light of Donegal being named the ‘Coolest Place on the Planet to Visit 2017’, people across the globe are sitting up and taking notice and it is clear that they are not forgetting about this once “Forgotten County” anymore. Well done to everyone!

Finally, I’d like to say a very big thank you to the Donegal Tourism team for allowing me to represent Donegal at the first ever NGTUK Festival in London and for their work in bringing together all of the key elements that make tourism in Donegal the success that it is, your work is very much appreciated by us all.

Bren Whelan, was a speaker at the National Geographic Festival 2017 on behalf of Donegal Tourism. He is a climbing guide & photographer with Donegal Climbing
For all things Donegal check out: www.govisitdonegal.com 

Donegal Launch of the National Geographic Traveller Supplement

The Official Launch of the Donegal Supplement in the National Geographic Traveller Magazine, hosted by The Cathaoirleach Cllr Gerry McMonagle and the Chief Executive of Donegal County Council and the Chairman of Donegal Tourism CLG Mr Seamus Neely, took place on Friday, 1st September in the County House if Lifford.

Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr Gerry McMonagle (L) and Chief Executive of Donegal County Council and Chairman of Donegal Tourism CLG Mr Seamus Neely (R)

Following the announcement that County Donegal was named as the ‘Coolest Place on the Planet 2017’ by National Geographic, the team at Donegal Tourism CLG made contact with National Geographic Traveller to explore potential marketing opportunities that would maximise the exposure Donegal would receive as a result of this prestigious title.

As a result, the 20-page travel supplement dedicated to Donegal and included in the September 2017 issue of National GeographicTraveller is just one of the elements of an extensive marketing campaign that is ongoing with National Geographic Traveller working closely with the Donegal Tourism CLG team.

The Donegal travel supplement was developed by Donegal Tourism Staff, Managing Director and Publisher, Matthew Jackson, Editor Stephanie Cavagnaro, travel writer Zoë McIntyre and photographer Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi.

In addition to online marketing activity where articles about Donegal will feature on the National Geographic Traveller blog and social media, in September 2017 the Donegal Tourism CLG team will travel to London to attend a very special online event hosted by National Geographic Traveller. This is an online live event where representatives from various regions around the world will come together to discuss their destination with a panel of experts. This is a very exciting opportunity to showcase Donegal.

A special thank you also to Zoë for writing with such passion about Donegal and to Alecsandra for capturing the most stunning photos of our beautiful county and for the wonderful representation of the various people that they encountered on their journey. The Donegal supplement is a fine example of the result of their attention to detail and professional work.

The publication can be accessed here: magazine.natgeotraveller.co.uk/donegal17

For all things Donegal visit: govisitdonegal.com 

Donegal Trade Mission to the USA

This August will see Donegal reach across the Atlantic Ocean to extend a heartfelt Céad Mile Fáilte to its nearest westerly neighbours, friends and family. As part of its ongoing marketing campaign aimed at increasing its ever-growing visitor numbers to the county, Donegal Tourism along with Harvey’s Point with Support from Tourism Ireland will embark on a highly-anticipated trade mission to the States. The delegation intends to engage with major American Tour Operators and Irish Diaspora in three States, including the largest ethnic festival in the world.

The trip will take in the cities of New York, Chicago, and Milwaukee. The New York event will take place on the evening of Tuesday 15th August and the Chicago event will take place on the evening of Wednesday 16th August. Each of these two events will consist of an evening of celebration of all that is Donegal, with members of the tourism team meeting with some of America’s major tour operators providing them with first-hand accounts and information about Donegal. The team will be looking to publicise the recent accolades that Donegal has achieved such as being voted the coolest place on the planet to visit in 2017 by top travel publication, National Geographic, while also promoting the Wild Atlantic Way initiative emphasising Donegal’s relevance to this.

In the lead up to this promotional campaign, Donegal Tourism has been working closely with Tourism Ireland in these cities to build connections with tour operators and significant stakeholders within the industry that can open up new routes and packages aimed specifically at people who may wish to visit Donegal over the coming years.

Donegal Tourism also wishes to extend an invitation to these events to all of our Diaspora that may live or work in these regions. Tickets to these events are free and there will be entertainment and refreshments at each event. To access information about either event, simply visit Eventbrite and search for Donegal Gathering New York 2017 or Donegal Gathering Chicago 2017 depending on which event may be of interest. So if you have a friend or loved one that may be interested in these events, please let them know that their support would be greatly welcomed.

On Thursday 17th August, the team move on to Milwaukee to host an area at the Irish Fest the Irish Fest is to Promote and Celebrate All Aspects of Irish, Irish American and Celtic Cultures and attracts over 130,000 attendees. While primarily a music festival, there is a focus is Irish heritage and culture with a section devoted to travel to Ireland. The festival features separate areas highlighting Travel, Genealogy, Irish Theatre, Culture and Heritage. Donegal Tourism will host a branded destination display stand only at the show.
 For three days Donegal Tourism will host this area at the festival promoting Donegal and all its glory. So spread the word to anyone you may know in the Milwaukee, Illinois region.

Donegal Tourism would also like to ask businesses to create packages on their websites for USA 2017 trip as it is anticipated that website traffic to www.govisitdonegal.com which will in turn create traffic to businesses that are listed within this website.

To book you place at any of these events Click Here:

Chicago Donegal Gathering 2017

New York Donegal Gathering 2017

Donegal Gathering - New York Registration

Cathedral Quarter in Letterkenny Launch New Heritage Map App

Cllr Gerry McMonagle, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, officially launched the new Cathedral Quarter Heritage Tour App in Dillon’s Hotel, Letterkenny on Wednesday, 12 July. The Heritage Tour App is a product of a collaboration between Donegal County Council and Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter group under the IMPROVE project.

The Heritage Tour App can be downloaded HERE onto mobile devices and computers and will give visitors the chance to explore the area at their own leisure. The app was developed by Darragh McDonagh from the Geographic Information Systems section of Donegal County Council, using information gathered by Cathedral Quarter committee member John Nee. All information available on the new Heritage Map App was validated by Kieran Kelly of Letterkenny Historical Society.

Darragh McDonagh (Donegal Maps, GIS section of Donegal County Council), John Nee (Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter), Cllr Gerry McMonagle (Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council), Paddy Friel (Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter, Chair), Gerard McCormack (President Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce), Donnan Harvey (Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter)

Speaking about the positive impact that the new Heritage Map will have in the area, Donnan Harvey, Cathedral Quarter said, “There are twenty points of interest on the Cathedral Quarter Map which include St Eunan’s Cathedral, Conwal Parish Church, Sentry Hill, Bishops Palace and Mount Southwell."

"Once the map is launched, we hope that it will be widely used and promoted by local businesses and the tourist authorities. We now look forward to seeing many tourists wandering around the Cathedral Quarter area whilst finding out about our proud history.”

Guest speakers at the official launch on Wednesday 12 July included Darragh McDonagh, Donegal County Council, Paddy Friel, Chair of Letterkenny Cathedral Quarter and representatives from Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce.

10 More Sightseeing Tours & Guides in County Donegal

Whether you are coming to County Donegal or have already arrived, there are loads of excellent Guided Tours offering tailor-made itineraries and the opportunity to see all of the fantastic attractions around the County. Here are some more of the local companies that are offering bespoke tours around County Donegal.

Get an authentic Donegal experience, by connecting with some of our many partner Sightseeing Tours & Guides. This is part Two of a 2-part listing.

The Mulroy Drive is a 45km Touring Route in north Donegal which connects the beautiful Atlantic drive to the rugged beauty of the Fanad lighthouse and the stunning Portsalon beaches and Knockalla drive. This drive offers a wide variety of walking and cycling routes, canoeing, swimming and fishing that can be seen on the route maps along the way.

Oideas Gael, based in  Gleann Cholm Cille (Glencolmcille), Southwest Donegal, has become the holiday destination of choice for adult Irish language learners and cultural holiday enthusiasts. Courses on offer include Hill-walking, Archaeology, Marine Painting, Landscape & Environment, Digital photography, Tapestry weaving, Harp, Flute and Bodhrán.

Rapid Kayaking offers the opportunity to go and explore. Get close and interact with the Wild Atlantic scenery, bird and animal life with the possibility of paddling into caves, through sea arches, to rocky reefs and along the beautiful, picturesque coastline of Donegal. Based out of Boatstrand Carrickfin, Kincasslagh Harbour, Cruit Island and at Dungloe Lake you will recieve instruction and then are issued with a wetsuit, footwear, bouyancy aid and a helmet. Each paddler is given a boat to fit their suitability and a paddle for the trip.

Iain Miller, of Unique Ascent, is a rock climber, guidebook author and hill walker living, working and playing on the sea cliffs, sea stacks, mountain ranges and uninhabited islands of County Donegal. He has explored the mountains and coastline of County Donegal since 2007 finding and climbing over 50 previously unclimbed sea stacks including Tormore Island, Ireland's highest sea stack. Unique Ascent has created a collection of unique and compelling visitor experiences for those seeking a new level of outdoor adventure.

Saoire Mara Charters, based in Kincasslagh, County Donegal, provide boat hire with a qualified skipper for Deep Sea Angling and Coastal & Island Cruises. Their modern charter boat 'Caitlin Marie' is licensed to carry up to 12 passengers. If you have never fished before they will be happy to offer angling tuition and rod and tackle hire is also available. The Sightseeing cruises offer an opportunity to view the rugged west coast of Donegal from a new perspective.

Curran Travel & Coaches operate an efficient, flexible, reliable and economical coach and bus hire transport service. They offer a unique coach hire service in the tourism sector whereby we can collect at any Irish airport or sea port and bring any group numbers from 4 to 50 on tour to different scenic venues throughout Donegal & Ireland. Their coach drivers have a wealth of experience and can give running commentaries on historical and scenic data while travelling through areas of historic and natural interest in Donegal.

True North Bike Tours provide custom guided and self-guided motorcycle tours of Ireland covering lesser known routes along the Wild Atlantic Way, Causeway Coastal routes and Donegal Highlands. They also do guided daily tours from June to September from the tourist office at port road in Letterkenny on a Wednesday and Saturday leaving at 10am each day.

Walking & Talking in Donegal, based in Ramelton, organise 7 day walking tours and also weekend walking tours, taking in Glenveagh National Park, Ards Forest Park, Fanad coast, Knockalla, Muckish and Errigal. The walks range from easy – 3 to 4 hours over a reasonably flat surface such as Ards Forest Park – to medium difficult such as Knockalla Mountain and Muckish which involve steep inclines and uneven, soft and boggy surfaces. Minimum group size is 6 and maximum 12. Accommodation is provided with breakfast, packed lunch and evening meal.

Arranmore Sea Safari & Marine Heritage Tour is based at the harbour of Burtonport, 8km northwest of the town of Dungloe. The numerous offshore islands are havens of peacefulness and tranquility where nature and wildlife prosper without interruption.  Cliffs, beaches, rocky outcrops, sea stacks, sea caves provide perfect habitats for marine life as well as superb photographic opportunities for visitors . Bird-watching opportunities abound together with the possibility of spotting dolphins, seals and basking sharks.  Beverages provided on trip. WC on board.

Sliabh Liag Tours are a family run company, based in Teelin who offer bespoke tours around the Slieve Liag Cliffs, on the south-west coast of Donegal. The cliffs stand 600 metres above the wild Atlantic Ocean and from the viewing point you see across Donegal Bay to Sligo and Benbulben, Leitrim, Mayo, Rathlin O'Beirne and out into the Atlantic ocean as far as the eye can see! On the short journey to the cliffs our drivers and guides will point out all of the interesting landmarks and structures left on the mountain from hunderds of years ago, in the form of Napoleonic towers and some of the navigational aids used by aircraft in World War 2. You will also learn the history of the cliffs and of the people and animals who have inhabited the area throughout the ages, in a fun and exciting way.

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