Northern Ireland news

Cool Donegal now has second most scenic airport in the world

The spectacular runway at Carrickfinn Airport runs out towards the sea.
Seamus McKinney

FIRST it was named the coolest place on earth to visit this year. Now Donegal’s airport has been voted the second most scenic in the world.

Carrickfinn in west Donegal was pipped to the top spot only by the sun-kissed Caribbean island of Saba out of 122 airports across the world.

The poll by booking service found that Donegal’s wild and rugged coastline found favour with voters.

The survey was conducted among travel industry experts and world travellers.

A few months ago, Co Donegal was named the coolest place on the planet to visit by National Geographic Traveller.

The county topped the chart ahead of exotic destinations including Chile, Peru, India and South Africa.

Pat Riddell, editor of National Geographic Traveller, said: “Wilderness always feels just a stone’s thrown away.”

Carrickfinn Airport, just south of the Rosses village of Annagry, lies beside the beach of the same name which is considered one of the most beautiful in Ireland.

Situated in a Gaeltacht area, it is just south of Gweedore and north of Dungloe.

Opened in 1986, the airport currently flies just two routes, linking Donegal with Dublin and Glasgow.

The runway, about 45 minutes drive from Letterkenny, extends out towards the sea with the spectacular Mount Errigal and the Blue Stack mountains as a backdrop.

Until the 1980s and public funding the runway had been just a grass strip.

Adam Twidell, chief executive of PrivateFly, said Carrickfinn has a timeless appeal.

He described the landscape as stunning, wild and dramatic and unlike any other area in the world.

An experienced pilot, he said: “I have landed at Donegal many times and the rugged coastline of Ireland’s north west coast is even more awe-inspiring from the air.”

The PrivateFly chief said people voting for Carrickfinn airport also highlighted the warm welcome awaiting visitors in the Donegal Gaeltacht.

A similar poll last year’s listed Donegal as the seventh most scenic setting for an airport landing.

Donegal is riding the crest of a marketing wave after the makers of the next Star Wars movie chose Malin Head as a location for filming last year.

Tourism officials attended one of the world's biggest Star Wars conventions last month to highlight tours and holiday packages in the area.

Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley and other stars of the franchise spent a weekend filming at Ireland's most northerly point where an elaborate set was built for The Last Jedi, due for release in December.

Skellig Michael, off the coast of Kerry, was also used by the filmmakers and features prominently in the trailer for the movie and Tourism Ireland said it would be "taking every opportunity" to attract visitors to the 'Wild Atlantic Way'.

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