Sea Kayaking in Donegal


Photograph by Rapid Kayaking

Rapid Kayaking

Sea kayaking had been on my wish list for around three years, until I let go of some old fears and booked a two hour trip with local instructor James O’Donnell of in August.

“James is a member of the British and Irish Canoe Association and is a fully insured and up to date sea kayak guide and instructor. He has spent the last 16 years exploring and paddling the Donegal coastline and offshore islands, which has given him a great awareness and understanding of this wild, natural environment and its marine and bird life.”

Getting Started

I arrived at Kincasslagh Harbour on a calm, dry morning and joined a small group for a  two hour trip to Oilean Traigh – known as Big Island by the local fishermen.

20180827_121924.jpgKincasslagh Harbour

James supplied all equipment including a wetsuit, shoes, a waterproof jacket, buoyancy aid and helmet. This was my first time wearing a wetsuit, but I did not have my photograph taken, so you will be spared that sight!

Kayaks and paddles were allocated to each member of our group, and a series of health and safety instructions were given. It was time to enter the water.


Practice Area inside Kincasslagh Harbour

Despite my long held fears of participating in a trip, I felt remarkably calm.

Before heading out to sea we practiced paddling forwards, backwards, gathering as a group with the noses of our kayaks closely parked, maneuvering off rocks…

Then we were off.

Out to Sea

Leaving the harbour, James indicated our first stop alongside a small island in the bay. It took me some time to accomplish a smooth paddling rhythm but it was a good learning experience.

I reached our first stop as the last in the group, but it did not matter.

James set our group another goal to reach the next small island, and so we continued, until we were a fair distance from shore. I was now enjoying myself immensely despite continuing to be the slowest.

Calm Waters

The more experienced members of the group took a short trip through some exciting swells, while I remained in calmer waters.

It felt good to wait peacefully on their return. Indeed, I enjoyed breathing in Nature’s beauty, staring into the sea and observing the marine life and different types of seaweed.

An Island Picnic and Swim

It was time for a break on Oilean Traigh.

After pulling our kayaks ashore, we enjoyed a picnic and a bit of exploration. Some members of the group had a swim beneath a mighty sea arch, while I enjoyed a gentle paddle in my wet suit.

All too soon, it was time to head back to the mainland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhotograph by Rapid Kayaking

Paddling Back

The sea had grown a little more choppy, but I enjoyed it immensely, and paddled quite confidently.

Once again, I was last to reach the shore, but it did not matter. James helped me out of my kayak, and asked me, “How do you feel.”

I replied:


I wished I had not procrastinated for so long. Sea kayaking will be a definite on next summer’s list of pleasurable activities.

Brigid P. Gallagher is a retired natural medicines therapist, passionate organic gardener and author of “Watching the Daisies- Life lessons on the Importance of Slow,” a holistic memoir dedicated to the art of mindfulness and healing from debilitating illness.





  1. you make it sound quite simple but so much fun. I am impressed that the instructor really takes the time to teach all the basics, that removes a lot of fears and certainly then you are more confident and enjoying all the beauty around you

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Brigid! I love kayaking! I’m so glad you tried it. Kayaking and paddle boarding are two of my favorite summer activities. Your trip reads fascinating, the pictures are great although I would have loved to see you in your wetsuit. 😉 I’m so glad you enjoyed it. ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, that you did that is amazing. I remember being in a kayak years ago in very civilized surrounding (maybe a water park with my daughters) and I don’t think I could venture out in the open sea like that. If the water is deeper than five feet, I am very uncomfortable. You are more fearless than I am, that’s for sure! The surrounding sound lovely. I did pull up a map to see exactly were you were, saw more views and it all just looks wonderful. I am glad you finally did it and enjoyed yourself and I would have been in the back of the line right there with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Terri. It was the idea of deep water that kept me away so long. However, it did not bother me a bit once I got into the kayak. James kept a very watchful eye on everyone. I think his patient and calm manner put me at ease. If you get a chance go for it. 🌼

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve brought back the joy of sea kayaking with your lovely post…my Mom & I went on a magical kayaking adventure many years ago and I’ll never forget it…I’m glad to read that you’ll be out on the water again next summer, Brigid!

    Liked by 1 person

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