Killybegs, Donegal, Ireland
Donegal Bay by Waterbus
Local Sightseeing, All
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Approximately 3¾ Hours
Depart Killybegs and head east to the busy town of Donegal, which is steeped in history. Donegal, whose name means the Fort of the Foreigners, is situated at the point where the River Eske flows into Donegal Bay.
Donegal has the finest centerpiece of any town in Ireland -- the old market Diamond (triangular rather than four-sided). The streets that radiate from it were laid out to the plans of Sir Basil Brooke, who was granted Donegal Castle in 1607 after the legendary Flight of the Earls, when several of Ulster's leading families fled to the Continent.
Upon arrival in the town, you will pause to view the tall obelisk commemorating the monks who scribed the Annals of the Four Masters.
On the estuary south of the town lie the ruins of the Franciscan Abbey, close to the town's pier where you will board a modern waterbus for a cruise on Donegal Bay. During a delightful 80-minute cruise, the skipper will give a lively commentary on the sights of special interest interspersed with humorous anecdotes, and his witty observations bring to life the events that have shaped the country's destiny.
The waterbus passes St Ernan's Island, linked to the mainland by a causeway. The latter was built in gratitude by tenants for a benevolent landlord who saved many from starvation. At Belles Island you will see the mooring point from where the victims of the terrible famine 150 years ago boarded the 'coffin ships' which took the lucky ones to a new life in the Americas. There were few happy endings as the death toll of the emigrants from shipwreck and starvation was horrendous.
Traverse the inner bay to see a native seal colony near the mouth of the River Laghey. Marvel at how the seals are totally unafraid as the waterbus glides by only a few yards from them.
At the end of the trip, return to the pier; it is a short stroll from the pier to the town center.
Some free time in Donegal Town gives you a chance to visit (if you wish) John Magee's store, dating from 1866. It specializes in the world-renowned Donegal tweed and fine linens.
Re-join the coach and your guide for the drive back to Killybegs.
The waterbus is not exclusive to Holland America Line guests. Wildlife sightings are likely but are not guaranteed.