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Dawros Head/Ireland

Introducing Dawros Head

The outer reaches of beautiful Loughrea Peninsula, north of Ardara, glistens with a multitude of tiny lakes cupped by gentle, undulating hills. The twin resort towns of Narin and Portnoo also tend to be swamped with summer weekenders, attracted by the beautiful wishbone-shaped Blue Flag beach at Narin.

The beach’s sandy tip points towards the protective bulk of Iniskeel island, and at low tide you can walk out to this island. St Connell, a cousin of St Colmcille, founded a monastery here in the 6th century. Hardly any trace of the monastery remains but the island is nevertheless studded with interesting early medieval Christian remains.

Another adventurous diversion is to track down Lough Doon, 3km south of Narin, in the centre of which sits the 2000-year-old Doon Fort, a fortified oval settlement. To reach the fort, you need to hire a rowing boat (around €10) from an adjacent farm. Pick a day that’s not too windy.

If the fort whets your appetite for archaeology, pay a visit to the Dolmen Ecocentre (074-954 45010; www.dolmencentre.com ; Kilclooney; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri), which can point you towards several other prehistoric sites, including a delightful tortoiselike passage tomb a short walk up a track left of the church.

Also on the peninsula, hemmed in by grassy dunes, is Tramore Beach. In 1588 part of the Spanish Armada ran aground here. The survivors temporarily occupied O’Boyle’s Island in Kiltoorish Lake, but then marched to Killybegs, where they set sail again in the Girona. The Girona met a similar fate that year in Northern Ireland, with the loss of over a thousand crew.

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