February 15th, 2008 – by: paulkernan
Teach Bhillie at dusk, you can see the glow of the open fire within.
Nestling below Cashel hill overlooking Ballyness Bay, Gortahork is a small busy Gaeltacht (Irish Speaking Region) village in Northwest Donegal (in Gaeilge the town's name means The Field of Oats). There is a bronze statue of a man scything grain in the grounds of the old Tech, a bit 'wooden' as poses go but a great photo opportunity! It has the typical rural Irish feature of a long main street and a wild scattering of houses dissappearing up laneways and side roads. (It was the Vikings who imposed the orderly towns and villages - we Irish always liked things a bit more imaginative!) With a few shops, an impressive Church and a busy Hotel, and of course Teach Bhillie (Billie's Pub pronounced Chack Villie) which hosts the best traditional music session in the county every Tuesday night - Gortahork is homely and welcoming. Given its location on the coast hugging the foothills of the Derryveagh Mountains, Gortahork is the perfect base to explore the hills and inlets of the surrounding landscape. It is also the departure point for trips to Tory and Inis Bo Finne two Gaelic speaking islands. For travelers on a budget the fact that the village straddles the main N56 road means there are daily coach services to Derry, Belfast, Dublin, Sligo and Galway. The village is only 20 minutes drive from Donegal Airport (Carrickfin) which links to Glasgow and Dublin. If you want to sample rural life with a rich culture, you couldn't do much better than Gortahork.