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 years after his death. The Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival (www.rorygallagherfestival.com) is held over the June bank holiday week. A newly established website to what is classified as Ireland's oldest town is worth exploring: www.discoverballyshannon.ie.
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