Shelter at the anchorages is good, but is subject to swell in specific quarters. Access is straightforward when unaffected by weather or tidal consideration, although care should be taken if attempting a landing.
Keyfacts for Gola Island
SummaryA good location with straightforward access.
Position and approaches
Haven position55° 5.456' N, 008° 21.443' W
this is the position at the pier on the east side of the island.
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The 'Erris Head to Malin Head' coastal description provides approach information to the suggested initial fix. Vessels approaching from the south should select the northeast bound sequenced description; vessels approaching from the north should select the southwest bound sequence; western approaches may use either description.
Gola Island : Oilean Gabhla, situated about 1 mile off the coast of the Gweedore District of County Donegal, is a small island that covers an area of about one square mile, 500 acres, and the terrain is mildly hilly mostly on the west side, rising up to Cnoc an Choillin and An Mhoal and these hills shelter the ribbon of homes that stretch along the eastern side of the island.
The island has three good anchorages around its shores; on the south side of the island in a small semi circular shaped inlet in a depth of about 5 metres. The entrance of which is approached from Gola South Sound through Illaunmore Sound between Allagh Island and Gola taking care to avoid Passage Rock which is situated in mid channel. In winds between northwest and east it is a very suitable anchorage which is relatively easy to enter. Approximately 0.75 miles south east of this spot there is a good anchorage at Gola Roads in 6 metres depth midway between Gola and Inishinny Island. On the east side of the island there is probably the best anchorage with 3 metres depth in a large crescent shaped bay where there is room for several boats and which affords good shelter in all weathers but is subject to swell.
There is a further possible anchorage on the south coast in a small inlet which is approached from the north of the east side of Gola Island, and though the entrance is very narrow between rocks, it is more convenient for going ashore to the main village of Portacrin. To simplify the entry it is advisable to go in near low water and anchor in 4 metres depth. A storm beach landing is possible at the deep indented bay on the west side of the island at Magherangall Bay at all stages of the tide.
Circumnavigation of the island rewards sailors with spectacular views of cliffs, arches and coves. A tunnel penetrates through the tip of the north side of Magherangall Bay at its seaward end which is well worth looking out for if there is not too much swell, but the entrance from either end is not obvious. Tororragam Sound on the north side between Gola and Umfin Island being shallow can be rather lumpy at times.
Why visit here?Gola is a truly beautiful island, and for sailors cruising the northwest coast of Ireland it is a must visit location. The main landing point for the island is at the modern concrete pier and sheltered beach on the east side, although the main village of Portacrin is on the south coast off a small inlet which is exposed to south westerlies. A number of sandy beaches exist at the southeast corner of the island which provide safe landings in any conditions and there are many other landing places available which are sheltered from different sea and weather conditions.
The last permanent inhabitants of Gola left in 1967 finding it no longer possible to sustain a livelihood on the island which was dependent on fishing. Now after more than forty years some of them and their children and grandchildren have gone back to restore many of the old houses in conjunction with the Donegal Small Islands Co-operative. They have brought mains water and electricity to the island and have opened a tearoom and campsite to cater for the increasing volume of tourists and holiday homes that have been built, attracted to the island by its many beaches and secluded bays. The island still has no permanent residents and no scheduled ferry services.
The island is easily explored in a few hours of pleasant walking on bog roads and sheep paths by following Sli Ghabhla which forms part of Sli an Eargail, The Errigal Way. Sli an Eargail is one of four main waymarked walks in the Donegal Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) district, known as Bealach na Gaeltachta. Sli Ghabhla is signposted from the pier at Traigh na mBlathan, the route is shown on a display board at the island pier and the walk gives splendid views of surrounding islands, reefs and the mainland.
Many people including visiting sailors taking a day off the boat, enjoy the many opportunities for camping that the island has to offer, which makes for a great family day out or a few days break from being on the water.
Other activities that the island has to offer include rock climbing as Gola is one of the best sites in Ireland for this sport, and watching marine animals and birds. The sea cliffs along the western side of the island support colonies of cliff nesting sea birds whilst waders and eider ducks are to be seen along the shores. Basking sharks, porpoises and grey seals can be seen around the island, which is well positioned to look out for whales and dolphins migrating along the Irish coast, and the numerous rock pools teem with marine life.
At the western end of Gola a small memorial has been built to two of the victims of the 2001 Twin Towers attack, who were descendants of Gola islanders, and this has become something of a place of pilgrimage.
Two men from Gola, Patrick McGinley and Charles Duggan, were aboard the 'Asgard' the boat that brought arms into Howth in north County Dublin in 1914, in preparation for the Easter Rising of 1916.
There are few facilities on Gola, though fresh water may be available from the tea room.
What facilities are available?There are no facilities at this location, but it may be possible to get fresh water with kind permission from the island's tearoom.
With thanks to:inyourfootsteps.com site research. Photography with thanks to Joseph Mischyshyn and Liam Moloney.
The following video is a photo montage of Gola.
Add your review or comment:
Iain Miller wrote this review on Oct 12th 2017:
For more information and a free downloadable Rock Climbing guidebook to Gola Island. http://uniqueascent.ie/gola_island_guideAverage Rating:
Iain Miller wrote this review on Oct 19th 2017:
For more information and a free downloadable Rock Climbing guidebook to Gola Island. http://uniqueascent.ie/gola_island_guideAverage Rating: Unrated
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