In all my travels, Port, Donegal was one of the most magical places that I’ve ever been. Port has been called “the most remote and least visited corner of Ireland.” The nearest neighbors are three miles up the road. I’m still surprised that we even found it considering that you can take only one road to get there.
Port is located right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. This abandoned village sits alone above the wild, stoned beach and picturesque harbour. Port is located not too far from Glencolmcille, on a rough, single-lane side road to Ardara. At Port or An Port, there is the remains of a “Ghost Village” (also called “The Deserted Village”). A whole little cluster of stoned homes just seem to have been abandoned.
Port must have been a small but thriving coastal village given that it is said that this is probably the first maritime port in County Donegal. Local legends say that the people of Port had to leave during the The Irish Famine (1845-52) after which the houses were just left to fall into ruin. In comparison to other “Famine villages,” Port seems unique in the sense that the entire village population had to flee for food.
The houses you see in Port were all built of local stone. This can be seen from the clean cut corners of the stones which show the make up of nearby rocks, which were taken from the high cliff above the water there.
Port is very peaceful and a place to visit to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. On a more somber note, there is no better place in the world to reflect upon the sad events that took place there over the centuries in Ireland.
GETTING TO PORT FROM ARDARA
1. Take the Killybegs road
2. Just outside Ardara on the Killybegs road turn right for the Glengesh Pass
3. At the top of Glengesh Pass take the first right
4. You will come to a T junction and you should turn right (the road to the left goes to Glencomcille)
5. Keep driving until you come to another T junction which has a lough (lake on the left) and take a right turn here
6. Keep driving along this road and you will eventually see the sea and the rocky shoreline of An Port. The ghost village is the old stone cottages on your right with the rocky shoreline in front of you
For more photos of our visit to Port and its surrounding area, please visit my photo gallery: Photos of Glencolmcille, Ardara, Port.
Please also see a short video I made of our visit to Glencolmcille, Ardara, and Port:
3 thoughts on “Port, an Abandoned Irish Famine Village in Donegal”
Wow, what a fascinating place to find! I can definitely sense the feeling of peace there despite the eeriness of it’s abandonment just by looking at your beautifully captured photographs. What beautiful colours in that dusk light and reflected off the smooth coastal cliff edges and stones. You’ve given something so ordinarily sharp and jagged-looking as rocks and ridges a soft and serene appearance instead, which perfectly compliments the pastels of the sky. These are great shots Craig!
Coming across a find like this village while on a drive is something I really enjoy myself, actually. It’s such great stimulation for the imagination with the mystery of the unknown, of time, and of space adding other dimensions of wonder to the thrill of discovery! I wonder about things such as,
‘were we meant to come to this place on this day in time for a reason only known to God?’ and ‘what is it about this place that feels like it’s somehow connected to another element of my conscience in some way?’
or ‘what did the people who lived here once experience that still lingers in a non-physical sense?’
I probably sound crazy and haven’t actually told anyone this before, but what the heck, it’s out there now! lol
As for this village and others abandoned since the potato famine, I think about those places too incidentally. My ancestors emigrated to Australia during that time and those villages may very well be one of the places they lived back then. My lifelong dream has been to go back there, to Ireland, to a place my heart yearns for despite never having been there. It runs deep in my blood, both sides of my family ancestors were Irish and most of my relatives here in Australia have been back to the mother land. Just not me. Yet. Who knows, maybe my great-great-grandparents lived in Donegal? The name definitely has a hauntingly familiar name to it… ❤ ❤ cousin Cindy x
*ring (sorry for the typo, the last sentence should read: “The name definitely has a hauntingly familiar *ring to it”, not “…’name’ to it” oops! >_< )
I understand that many items on the Internet and in print portray Port, Glencolmcille as a Famine or Ghost village. It is neither. My mother, Kathleen Gallagher Norris, walked over Glen Head Mountain to Port with her Uncle James McGinley many times when she lived in Faugher, Glen for the years 1926 to 1928. When they reached Port James would go out fishing with his relatives who lived in Port and Kathleen would play with her cousin Dennis McGinley. All three houses were occupied at that time. My cousin Kieran Harney’s (of the Byrnes of Carrick) grandmother, Annie McGinley (her portrait was painted here at Port by American artist Rockwell Kent in 1928) lived here until the late 50’s. And, the home furthest from the sea is now owned and occupied by a family from Cork I believe who rent it out by the week. So all this nonsense about a ghost village and famine village are just that: nonsense. In addition, our McGinley family returns often, as we did in 2016 (17 cousins) and this year with 12 of my immediate family members: my husband Hugh Ickrath, daughter Kristin Krotz and her husband AJ, and sons Patrick and Daniel, plus Patrick’s girlfriend, Jessica Morgan. We also traveled with my sister Pat’s daughter, Michell and her family: husband Brian Cutick and sons Brendan and Sean. (note all the Irish names.) Since my grandmother (another Annie McGjnley Gallagher) left Faugher, Glencolmcille in 1928 we have kept in close contact with our relatives in Glen and in Ardara (the Gallagher side of the family) So, inspite of the fact that none of us live in Port any longer, our hearts are here and we return often.
Maureen Dyer Ickrath