Dungloe , County Donegal

An Clochan Liath is the name you will see on signposts as you approach Dungloe , on any tours of Ireland , as it is a bit of a hidden gem.

The name refers to the grey-coloured stepping stones that were once used to cross the river here.

The modern anglicized version comes from Dun Cloiche , the name of a stone fort situated on a rock a few miles off shore.

When the fair that was held at the fort moved in the eighteenth century to the village of An Clochan Liath which had grown up around the stepping-stones , the fort’s name stuck, though Irish speakers still refer to the town by its original name.

For most of the year , there is little to detain you in Dungloe apart from entertainment in pubs.

At the beginning of August , however, the Mary From Dungloe festival , centered around a rather wholesome beauty pageant , provides a good pretext for general festivities , plenty of music and street events and almost certainly at least one concert featuring local singing legend Daniel O’Donnell. Well worth a visit on Ireland tours in August.

There is no antiquity behind the festivals origins or name – it dates from 1968 and the title comes from a hit single by Emmet Spiceland band (including the now notable traditional musician Donal Lunny whose mother hails from the Rosses village Rannafast)

Dungloe is also synonymous with the rejuvenating work of Paddy ‘the Cope’ Gallagher (1871-1966) , who envisaged the salvation of these then poor communities through cooperative ventures , in particular by reducing their dependency on moneylenders. Oddly enough , the enterprise’s practical origins lay in Paddy’s discovery that the price of manure was reduced when purchased by societies , As a result, he founded Templecrone Co-operative Agricultural Society (the “Cope”) in 1906 , and its central branch still stands proudly on Dungloe’s main street with branches throughout the Rosses.