Sunset over the Atlantic from Slieve League, County Donegal

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Slive League Sunset - Mainland Ireland's Highest Marine Cliffs

Slieve League marine cliffs, County Donegal, Ireland


On my recent odyssey along the coast of Ireland, I visited the magnificent cliffs at Slieve League in County Donegal, part of Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way.

It had been some years since I had visited thes, mainland Ireland's highest marine cliffs, sorry Cliffs of Moher this Atlantic water frontage is higher, and I wasn't disappointed on my return. Except for one thing, the drive up to the car park was truly one of the most terrifying on the planet. Steep inclines, sharp, twisting turns and a road wide enough for one car. On the landward side sat sharp, jagged rocks and on the seaward side were sheer drops into the Atlantic. Combine these characteristics with the fact that most of the cars on the route were rentals, manual-geared (stick shift) cars driven by Americans and Canadians driving on the opposite side of the road or visitors from Continental Europe who, although used to manual gears were still driving on what was to them the wrong side of the road.

Ah, the excitement of it! Then a relaxing view from the top looking over the Atlantic to calm the nerves before the slightly less arduous drive down.

I say it was truly one of the most terrifying drives because the road has now been improved. It is wider and resurfaced with barriers on the edge of the road.

Nonetheless, the views from the top are breathtaking, on my visit in early September the Atlantic was so calm you could hardly believe that Newfoundland is the next stop 2,000 miles across the ocean. There were no waves coming in off the vast stretch of ocean, but the calm conditions were characteristic of the whole first two weeks of September 2014. We have had a heatwave or Indian Summer.

Slieve League is a mountain of approx. 600m or 2,000ft that has been eroded by the Atlantic so that it's southern aspect forms precipitous cliffs almost three times higher than the more famous Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

These calm conditions gave a lot of colour in the morning and evening sky, lots of red and orange but there was not much action. No real movement in the sea or in the sky. At least the trip wasn't rained off which could easily happen with the weather in September in Ireland.

Plenty of colour on this occasion and plenty of activity with visitors from France, England and the USA along with a few Irish people.

Two hours of photography before and after sunset, it was well worth it.


Last modified on Thursday, 06 February 2020 21:52
Darren McLoughlin

Irishman and International travel photographer in search of the best bits of Ireland. Leading photography tours and experiences in Ireland.

Contributor to New York Times / Sunday Times / Irish Times / Echtra Echtra and Eonmusic

Cancer survivor.

Ask me about travel in Ireland or about photography in Ireland.

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