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A Guide To Visiting Glencolmcille Folk Village In Donegal

A Guide To Visiting Glencolmcille Folk Village In Donegal

For some reason, Glencolmcille Folk Village tends to get missed by some who visit the glorious corner of County Donegal that it inhabits.

Perched overlooking the idyllic Glen Bay Beach in south-west Donegal’s Gaeltacht, Glencolmcille Folk Village is a replica of a typical Irish rural village. 

Offering a close-up look at daily life in the area over centuries past, Glencolmcille Folk Village is one of the more unique Donegal attractions, and it showcases the heritage, culture and ingenuity of the local population.

In this article, we will take an in-depth look at visiting Glencolmcille Folk Village, providing insight into the tour as well as things to see when there.

Some quick need-to-knows about Glencolmcille Folk Village

Glencolmkille folk village

Photo by Christy Nicholas/shutterstock

Although a visit to the Glencolmcille Folk Village is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

You’ll find it in the village of Glencolmcille. It’s a 30-minute drive from Killybegs, a 35-minute drive from Ardara and a 1-hour drive from Donegal Town.

2. Opening hours

The Folk Village is open from Easter until September 30th, Monday to Saturday, 10:00 to 18:00 and from 10:00 to 18:00 on Sundays during July and August. From October 1st, it’s open from Monday to Sunday, 11:00 to 16:30. 

3. Prices

Admission to the Folk Village in Glencolmcille is as follows (note: prices may change):

  • Adults €6
  • Senior €5
  • Group €5.50 (over 11 people)
  • Students €5
  • Children over 7 year €2.50 (Under 7 years free)
  • Family €15. (2 Adults and 2 children only)

How the Glencolmcille Folk Village came about

The Folk Village Museum was the brainchild of Donegal priest Father James McDyer. Since opening way back in 1967 with three cottages, the attraction has welcomed many through its doors.

Indeed, Father McDyer is something of a local hero. He worked to bring amenities, community projects and increased industry to the area, helping to put a dent in some being forced to emigrate and from others begin stuck in unemployment.

Down the years Glencolmcille Folk Village has gone from strength to strength, with the museum remaining an integral part of the local community. People regularly donate their knowledge, time, heirlooms, tales and images to better the experience for visitors.

The Glencolmcille Folk Village Tour

Glencolmcille Folk Village Donegal

Photo left: Christy Nicholas. Right: Glencolmcille Folk Village

Most visitors here tend to opt to opt for the excellent Glencolmcille Folk Village tour, which whisks visitors on a journey through life in the 18th, 19th and 20th century in the area.

The tour offers a unique insight into how people lived, cooked, slept, worked and stayed warm during what were harsh and challenging times for many.

The Glencolmcille Folk Village tour offers a deep insight into the lives of people in the Glencolmcille area in centuries past.

With expert guidance, visitors can get up close and personal with village life in rural Ireland. For those with ancestry tracing back to Ireland, this can provide a unique look at how their forefathers lived.

Things to keep an eye out for when visiting Glencolmcille Folk Village

Glencolmkille folk village

Photo by Christy Nicholas/shutterstock

Glencolmcille Folk Village is packed with areas and items of interest, yet some elements are undoubtedly more popular than others.

When you visit, make sure to keep an eye out for the Fisherman’s cottage, the schoolhouse and the Clachan.

1. The Clachlan

One of the most visited areas at the village is the Clachlan, which is historically a set of small single-story cottages where farming or fishing people lived.

Often situated on poor land, each cottage at the village showcases a different time in Irish history. The cottages at the village are white-washed, with a classic half-door design that keeps the animals out!

Roofs remain thatched in Donegal style, tied down with rope and pegs to stop the thatching from blowing away under notorious Atlantic Ocean winds. 

2. The Fisherman’s Cottage

Then there is the Fisherman’s Cottage, an exhibition house that opened in 2011 along with the pub-grocer.

The Fisherman’s cottage shows the village fishermen’s lives and is related in style to the cottages lived in by artist Rockwell Kent and poet Dylan Thomas in the early 20th century.

For visitors with an interest in art, there are examples of work linked to their visit shown in the Schoolhouse and Tea Rooms.

3. The Schoolhouse

Speaking of which, the Schoolhouse and Tea Rooms section of the village is another key area. Officially the Dooey School House building, it is a model of a classic 19th century Donegal school.

With plenty of vintage images on display and historical info as well as a collection of items. As previously mentioned, poetry and art by artists who have visited the area figure heavily in this section of the village.

Places to visit near Glencolmcille Folk Village

There are heaps of brilliant places to visit a stone’s throw from Glencolmcille Folk Village, for those of you looking to explore more of this corner of Donegal.

There’s everything from beaches and cliffs to scenic drives (for the many wet and wild days Donegal gets) to a secret waterfall and more.

1. Malin Beg Beach (10-Minute Drive)

Silver Strand Beach

Photo by Milosz Maslanka (Shutterstock)

The mighty Malin Beg is one of the finest beaches in Donegal, and it’s only down the road from the folk village. This is a fine little spot where you can stretch the legs or admire the beach from the grassy banks above. Another great beach nearby is Maghera Beach (35-minute drive).

2. The ‘Secret’ Waterfall (23-Minute Drive)

hidden waterfall donegal

Photo by John Cahalin (Shutterstock)

Before you consider visiting this place, read our guide to Largy Waterfall, as there are several things you need to be aware of for your own safety. Nearby Assaranca Waterfall  (40-minute drive) is much more accessible.

3. Slieve League (25-Minute Drive)

Slieve league hike

Photo taken by MNStudio (shutterstock)

The magnificent Sliabh Liag Cliffs are some of the highest cliffs in Ireland. The cliffs here never fail to amaze and they’re perfect for long walks (you can park at the entrance and walk up) or for those with limited mobility (you can drive up near the viewing point).

4. Glengesh Pass (25-Minute Drive)

Glengesh Pass donegal

Photo by Lukassek/

Another brilliant addition to your visit to Glencolmcille Folk Village is the fantastic Glengesh Pass, which is arguably one of the most unique roads in Donegal after Mamore Gap. If stunning mountain scenery and an experience that you won’t forget any time soon tickles your fancy, this road is well worth taking.

FAQs about the Folk Village in Glencolmcille

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘When’s it open?’ to ‘What is there to see?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Is the Glencolmcille Folk Village any good?

Yes. This wonderful museum offers an insight into life in Ireland in centuries past. It’s brilliantly run and both educational and enlightening.

When is Glencolmcille Folk Village open?

It’s open from Easter until the end of October, Mon to Sat, 10:00 to 18:00 and from 10:00 to 18:00 on Sun during July and August. From Oct 1st, it’s open from Mon to Sun, 11:00 to 16:30.

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