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Introducing Gweedore & Around

The Gaeltacht district of Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair) is a loose agglomeration of small townships scattered between the N56 road and the coast. It's the most densely populated rural area in Europe, and the largest Gaelic-speaking parish in Ireland, a heartland of traditional Irish music and culture, and birthplace of Celtic bands and musicians such as Altan, Enya and Clannad.

The area is dotted with cosy pubs where the sound of fiddle, flute and penny whistle comes tumbling out of the doors and windows; ask about what's on at your accommodation, or any tourist office. Leo's Tavern has the most famous pedigree, while the bar at Teaċ Hiudái Beag is noted for its Monday- and Friday-night music sessions.

Although the scenery is wild and windswept, large parts of the coastal area have been overrun by holiday homes. Consequently, the 'villages' of Derrybeg (Doirí Beaga) and Bunbeg (Bun Beag) virtually blend into each other along the R257, and the sprawl continues north to the spectacular headland of Bloody Foreland (named for the crimson colour of the rocks at sunset).

It's a place best explored by bike, following narrow dead-end roads down to secluded coves and beaches. Away from the coast, dozens of small fishing lakes break up the bleak but beautiful landscape. If you're driving, the N56 heading east out of Gweedore is particularly scenic.