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The Northwest Travel Guide

Ballyshannon

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. Another son of Ballyshannon, the legendary rock guitarist Rory Gallagher, who died in 1995, is also honored with an annual summer musical tribute. More than 10,000 visitors pour into the town to ensure his spirit lives on in the hearts of many fans 20 years after his death. The Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival (www.rorygallagherfestival.com) is held over the June bank holiday week. 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.

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