The Wild Atlantic Way – A Walk on Gola Island
Gola Island, known as Gabhla or Oileán Ghabhla in Irish, lies on The Wild Atlantic Way, a mere mile off the Donegal coast.
It is a haven for artists, nature lovers, walkers and rock climbers.
A 15 minute drive from my home takes me to the Gola ferry leaving from Magheragallan.
September’s Indian summer provided perfect conditions for my first exploration of the island’s dramatic scenery.
The Ferry Crossing
Author Sean Hillen had also taken advantage of the good weather to visit Gola.
He and his wife Columbia, formed Ireland Writing Retreat to provide:
“Week-long, creative writing holidays with a difference – scenic walks, historic excursions, food and drinks tasting, fascinating author talks and daily practical writing and editing workshops.”
Sean introduced me to Sabba Curran – captain of The Cricket, and we posed together for posterity.
Sean Hillen, Sabba and Me on the Pier at Magheragallan
The sea crossing was calm, and in less than ten minutes I alighted on Gola with just two other day visitors and a handful of locals.
Tourists are provided with information on walks and wildlife at the end of the pier.
Other signs point to a delightful shop cum tearoom, a mere five minutes walk away.
An Teach Beag
Eddie McGee provides tea and sustenance at An Teach Beag, which boasts magnificent 360 degree views.
He is also a great raconteur, and I enjoyed learning a little of the island’s rich cultural heritage.
In the 1940’s Gola boasted more than 200 inhabitants largely involved in the fishing industry. However, the population suffered a steep decline in the 1960’s with the closure of the school in 1967.
Happily, people are returning, and a number of new homes have been built.
It gladdened my heart to know that Eddie – a skilled joiner, is engaged in restoring some of the older houses.
Before I left his delightful establishment, local author and historian Vincent Breslin joined our conversation, sharing more anecdotes on the island.
Serendipity at it’s best!
Port an Chruinn
A hop, skip and a jump from An Teach Beag, is Port an Chruinn, where I delighted in the tranquillity and stunning scenery.
Scoilt na Loinge
At Scoilt na Loinge, I gazed over the mighty Atlantic Ocean. I could have sat there all day…
Cnoc an Chait
Keen to get a little more exercise, I headed to Cnoc an Chait, which lies at the northern end of the island, taking me past Loch Mhachaire na nGall.
I passed no other walkers, but a cyclist did whizz by as I reached the summit.
The mile long walk was worth taking for the incredible views.
A Mindful Picnic
Keen to walk a more mindful talk, I returned to a bench near the pier for a welcome picnic.
Dolmades consumed, I sat still for an hour, feeling incredibly blessed.
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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.
She lives in Donegal, Ireland – an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/r5GCjaetgZk