Holidays Travel

Life's a beach in Culdaff, where McGrory's Hotel offers the warmest of Donegal welcomes

With a lovely hotel and stunning beach, Culdaff is an attraction in its own right – and not just the latest stop-off on the Star Wars tourist trail – writes Brian Campbell

McGrory's has been a family-run hotel since it opened in 1924
McGrory's has been a family-run hotel since it opened in 1924

THE Texan country/folk singer Guy Clark, who passed away last month, reportedly once said that “Culdaff makes me laugh” – and the Co Donegal village certainly does put a smile on your face.

It is perched up on the Inishowen Peninsula – just a 20-minute drive before you get to Malin Head, the most northerly point of Ireland that is now going to become an even bigger tourist attraction because some of the upcoming new Star Wars film was shot there.

But Culdaff is no stranger to stars, because the excellent Back Room venue in McGrory’s Hotel has hosted all manner of gigs over the years – among them Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green, Townes Van Zandt, Cara Dillon, Mary Black, Chic, Tom Baxter and Rodney Crowell. On our recent visit to the hotel, Elvis – in the shape of Jim 'The King’ Brown – was in the building.

Two upcoming gigs to look out for at the venue (as part of the Earagail Arts Festival) are Erland Cooper, Hannah Peel, Michael Keeney and Tommy McLaughlin (July 23) and Malian singer-guitarist Vieux Farka Touré (July 24).

McGrory’s is one of those places that manages to tick all the boxes. It has lovely friendly staff, a choice of 17 rooms, a fantastic restaurant, two great bars and the music venue.

As you walk in you are greeted by a roaring fire and the striking wood-panelled lobby, while another nice touch was entering our room to find a 'welcome’ plate with chocolates, cake and chocolate-dipped fruit.

You have your choice of lovely pub grub (the prawn open sandwich was particularly good) in the front bar (which also offers a great selection of local craft beers and which features live music at the weekends) or very fine dining in the Front Room restaurant, where seafood is their speciality.

My wife said the lamb was delicious too but she did feel a pang of guilt the next day when having breakfast and watching real live lambs frolicking in the field across from the hotel!

McGrory’s has been a family-run hotel since it opened in 1924. As well as being a wonderfully relaxing location in its own right, it’s also a three-minute drive (or a 10-minute) walk from Culdaff beach, one of the most stunning beaches I’ve been to.

We also took in the spectacular Malin Head and the Glenevin Waterfall, while Inishowen is also hugely popular for its hikes, surfing and golf.

We didn’t have time to take in the nearby Doagh Famine Village ( on this trip but will definitely go back to experience it the next time.

And as Culdaff is just over two hours in the car from Belfast, we will most certainly be going back.

McGrory’s, Culdaff, Inishowen, Co Donegal, (00353) 74 9379104, Email: Rates start at €69 per night (