New Gay Bryne walking trail part of five year plan

by Kate Heaney

A NEW walking trail along the west Donegal coast was unveiled last Friday by the widow of the man in whose memory it has been named.

Kathleen Watkins, widow of the late Gay Byrne, together with their daughters Crona and Susie and their children, were present at the Gweebarra Bridge for the unveiling of The Gay Byrne Trail.


Dungloe was a second home for the Byrne family who spent many long holidays here.

The well-known television presenter, who hosted The Late Late Show for many years, died in Dublin in 2019 at the age of 85.The Gay Byrne Trails follow walking routes the couple followed for many years with their children and grandchildren.

The Byrne’s lifelong friend and former Director of the Mary From Dungloe Festival, Pat Nora Gallagher said the 14 km long route follows the N56 from the Gweebarra Bridge to Dungloe with seven other routes available along the Dooey and Falmore coastline.

This year’s launch is the first part of a five-year plan which will see the route developed next year through The Rosses to Burtonport and on to Arranmore Island, finishing at the Lighthouse.

Year three will see another new route through the Lower Rosses, past Donegal Airport via Mullaghduff to Ballymanus. This will be called the Brian Friel Way.

Mr Gallagher explained that this trail will eventually come back to the Gweebarra Bridge and join the Glenties Greenway.

“The Gay Byrne Trail and the Brian Friel Way will come together which is very fitting considering the families were very good friends.


“As the route expands it will take in the Crolly Bridge and Ranafast.

“The plan is for the route to become a major tourism walking destination with links south of the Gweebarra to Gaoth Dobhair, Dunlewey and south of the Crolly Bridge. Moya Brennan said we would eventually marry in with the Clannad Way but then we have to find somewhere for the Daniel O’Donnell route,” he said.

He added that Kathleen was delighted with the route and the benefits it will bring to the whole area.

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