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Introducing Malin Head

Even if you've already seen Ireland's southernmost and westernmost points, you'll still be impressed when you clap your eyes on Malin Head, the island's northern extreme. It's a name familiar to sailors and weather buffs, as Malin is one of the sea areas, and Malin Head one of the weather stations mentioned in BBC Radio's daily shipping forecast. The weather station is at Bulbinbeg, 2km east of the head, while the nearby array of radio masts and aerials belong to Malin Head Coastguard Station, which coordinates marine search-and-rescue operations.

On the northernmost tip, called Banba's Crown, stands a cumbersome cliff-top tower that was built in 1805 by the British admiralty and later used as a Lloyds signal station. Around it are concrete huts that were used by the Irish army in WWII as lookout posts. To the west from the fort-side car park, a path leads to Hell's Hole, a chasm where the incoming waters crash against the rocky formations. To the east a longer headland walk leads to the Wee House of Malin, a hermit's cave in the cliff face.

The view to the west takes in, from left to right, the Inishowen Hills, Dunaff Head, low-lying Fanad Head with its lighthouse, the twin 'horns' of Horn Head and the twin bumps of Tory Island; in the far distance, to the left of Fanad lighthouse, are Muckish and Errigal Mountains. To the east lie raised beach terraces, and offshore you can see the lighthouse on the remote island of Inishtrahull.

The Plantation village of Malin, on Trawbreaga Bay, 14km southeast of Malin Head, has a pretty movie-set quality, set around a neat, triangular village green. Bring enough cash with you, as there are no ATMs here.

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