The former garrison town of Ballyshannon rises gently from the banks of the River Erne and has good views of Donegal Bay and the surrounding mountains. Come early August, this quiet village springs to life with a grand fest of traditional music, the Ballyshannon Folk Festival (086/252-7400 www.ballyshannonfolkfestival.com), Ireland's longest-running music gathering. The town is a hodgepodge of shops, arcades, and hotels. Its triangular central area has several bars and places to grab a snack. The town was also the birthplace of the prolific poet William Allingham.
A few kilometers down the road are several factories where, for generations, master craftsmen have made eggshell-thin Irish porcelain. It's said that if a newlywed couple receives a piece of this china, their marriage will be blessed with everlasting happiness.
Ballyshannon at a Glance
Elsewhere in The Northwest
- Ard an Ratha (Ardara)
- Donegal Town
- Gleann Cholm Cille (Glencolumbkille)
- Glenveagh National Park