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Located in south-west Donegal, the heritage town of Adara is at the heart of the county’s famous tweed and knitwear industry. It’s a great place to stay if you want to experience the true flavour of Ireland.
In terms of size Adara is relatively small - it has a population of around 600 - but it still manages to offer an impressive range of comfortable and affordable accommodation. There is a hotel in the town centre and several bed and breakfasts and guesthouses in the locality, many enjoying pretty coastal views. If you are on a tight budget there is also a hostel.
Ardara sits on the River Owentocker and its name, meaning “height of the fort”, comes from the earthen ring fort which sits on top of a hill to the north-east of town. The fort is a popular tourist attraction, pulling in visitors keen to find out more about the town’s ancient past.
The area’s long history is revealed further by the Kilclooney Dolman and the Maghera Caves, both of which can be found just outside Ardara. The latter were said to provide a place of sanctuary during penal times, with local people using them to avoid detection by invading forces.
The beautiful Assaranca Waterfall is also nearby, as is the hidden gem of Bonny Glen Wood. It has its own colourful history linked to the potato famine of the mid-1800s and it can be explored via two routes, each passing three pretty lakes.
Once you have uncovered the area’s historic past you can relax on the beaches of Narin and Portnoo, which are a short drive from Adara. From Narin, at low tide you can walk across to the island of Inniskeel but make sure you check locally for the safest time to do it.
Ardara is famous for its Cup of Tae Festival - “The Sweet Cup of Tae” is a favourite reel played by Irish musicians and points to the tradition of adding a drop of whiskey to a cup of tea. The festival is held annually in late April or early May and was inspired by local musician John “The Tae” Gallagher, once described as “probably the best fiddle player of all time” by Irish broadcaster Ciaran Mathuna.
Ardara is also known for holding its St Patrick’s Day Festival on the first Sunday after St Patrick’s Day. This unusual decision was taken to give residents and visitors the chance to enjoy both the festivities in nearby Glenties, on St Patrick’s Day itself, and the events in Ardara.
Famous for its textiles, Adara’s bustling town centre is a great place to see some of Donegal’s finest tweed and knitwear weavers, as well as other craftspeople, in action.
Adara has lots of accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets but if you want to look a little further afield check out what’s on offer in Glenties, Killybegs, Lettermacaward and Donegal Town.