The 'Wild West': Sailing to Slieve League, County Donegal

In 2011 my wife, Lindy, and I spent two weeks in Donegal, staying in a cottage near Killybegs. One of our most enjoyable days during that two weeks included a boat trip to see the cliffs at Slieve League ( Sliabh Liag in Irish) from the sea side. These are the highest sea cliffs in Europe standing 600m (1972 feet ).

A short distance west down the coastline from Killybegs is the beautiful little port town of Teelin. At the quay in Teelin you’ll find the small booth of Sliabh Liag Boat Trips and owner operator Paddy Byrne. Paddy has been plying the western seas of Ireland for 20 years as both a commercial fisherman and tour guide. And as is the case with so many people involved in the tourist industry in Ireland, his stories and witty banter from that wealth of experience are worth the price of the ticket by itself. 

Paddy’s excursion vessel, The Nuala Star, is a 36 footer that can hold 12 people. Although you can book the trip ahead, they leave at 10, 12, 2, 4, and 6 and you can often just show up and get a ticket, as we did. There were two other couples waiting on the quay, one from Ireland and one from the UK, and they proved genial companions on our trip. 

As we moved westward down the coast line, with Paddy regaling us with stories of other trips and various interesting and eccentric passengers he’d had, the cliffs to our right were gradually gaining height. Then we came around the corner and they were there.

Paddy cruised back and forth allowing us to all get lots of great photos. He said sometimes passengers want to land on the tiny beach at the foot of the cliffs. None of us, however, was feeling up for that. When you return to the quay from this trip be sure to look for the left hand turn on the way out that takes you on the road to the top of the cliffs, so you get the view from both the bottom and the top. As you can see below, we were having some typical windy and rainy Irish weather by the time we got up there, but the views were still fantastic. If you'd like to get to see them too, keep scrolling down to the bottom of the page.

Tell us why YOU want to experience the ‘Wild West’ of Ireland, and you might win a free 9-day trip there, courtesy of Wild West Irish Tours and WOW Air. Get the details!

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Tags: Donegal, Tourism, Travel, Ulster


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