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Climbfest 2023

The Donegal Climbfest 2023 will take place in Culdaff on the weekend 28th April – 1st May.

Camping will be available at Bunagee, behind the pier.

Parking at the campsite area is very limited. Please only drive up the lane to the campsite to drop off your camping gear. All cars, vans and motorhomes should be parked at the pier.

Toilets will be available in the form of portaloos at the campsite/pier.

Registration cost is €20 per person, which includes a t-shirt and camping fees.

Some top ropes will be set up at Dunowen, approx. 200m from the campsite.

The usual “come and try it” session will be on Saturday morning at Dunmore Head, starting approximately 10am.

Sat evening there will be a gathering at the campsite area, by the shipping containers. BYO BBQ, food and drink.

Click here for topos of all the local climbing areas.


The 2022 Donegal Climbfest will take place in Maghery, Co. Donegal, on the weekend 29th April – 2nd May 2022.

The campsite will be located at the Maghery Community Centre, behind the sports field. Colmcille Climbing Club members will be around from Friday evening onwards.

Toilet facilities and water are available at the community centre. There is no need to book in advance, however, if you require electricity, you should phone ahead and book, as there are only a limited number of electric hookups available at the campsite. The phone number is 00353 74952 2724. Camping fees are by donation, with all proceeds going to the community centre.

The Climbfest registration fee is €10 per person, this includes a Climbfest 2022 t-shirt. There will also be a separate collection for a charity supporting Ukrainian refugees.

The community centre have offered to provide a meal on Saturday night at a cost of €10 (tbc), if there is enough demand. Otherwise, BYO. The Strand View Bar is just across the road, for liquid sustenance.

There will be top ropes set up at nearby Crohy Head (Download PDF Guide) for anyone who wishes to use them. On Saturday morning there will be a “come and try it” session, for kids and other big wains, on Cruit Island at 10.30am (exact meeting place tbc). There will be experienced club members there to supervise and belay for this session, no equipment is required, ropes, harnesses and helmets will be provided for the kids, so just show up!

Crohy Head is the nearest crag – Download PDF Guide

Cruit Island is approx 25 drive from the campsite – Download PDF Guide

There is also a limited amount of climbing on Arranmore Island, which is reachable by ferry from Burtonport. https://thearranmoreferry.com/

PDF Climbing guides for all crags and islands in the area can be downloaded from UniqueAscent

Maghery Village

The Music House in April

We had just walked in, and George was leading Caruso VS4b whilst I had ab’ed down beside him to get a good shot of his lay-backing style, when it started to rain. Even worse, he refused point blank to layback! “Why not?”. ” Don’t want to”. Fair enough I suppose, so we sheltered in the cave until the rain went over.

There was a route beside the cave that I had cleaned, sort of, but I didn’t want to lead, (for reasons that will become apparent), so cunningly I pointed the hand jam crack at the bottom, knowing that George could never walk past a good hand jam, (or any hand jam). All went well until he came across the big loose rock, the mucky jammed blocks above, and the final vegetated fissure, into which you have to slide sideways. He took it well. ” Do you want to second this Alan?” “No thanks, you are alright, Ronan’s there already”.

I had climbed nothing at the stage, having been too taken up with management duties, so led a nice juggy severe over two bulges, seconded by Ronan, which I called Argony Piper. George then led The Dutchman, seconded by Ronan which he thought excellent, and then I led another crackline I had cleaned, Self Isolation Blues, seconded George and Ronan. Back out over the rocks to the beach and home.

Colmcille in Connemara


Great weekend was had by all, despite the weather not living up to the high pressure expectations.

On Friday morning we met at the Yeats Tavern, that is Neil, Dennis, Damien, Andrew, Sarah, Columba, Martin B, Gertrude, Brian, Margaret and self, and we were joined for the day by Ivan, Valli, Anneka and 2 girls- Pam and another Margaret (when I say ‘girls’ you must understand that when you are my age,’ girls’ refers to any female not currently in a residential home)*.  Martin Neil, Damien and Dennis took off for Pinnacle Gully, Brian, Gertrude and Margaret T for Lough Gill, whilst the rest of us made our way up Kings Gully to the opening of the fissure called Annach re Mor.  (We were joined by Keith, who had just arrived by motorbike). All went to plan for a change, and we had just finished Annach re Mor as the Pinnacle party were starting.  Some of our party then finished with the upper fissure at Altnasomething, a narrow passage with a step ladder exit.

*I forgot to mention that Eugene made a brief appearance in the car park.

The Connemara National Park hostel was as comfortable as ever, although part of the common area was closed.  On Saturday morning the weekenders set off for Bencorrbeg, dropping Andrew off just outside Letterfrack.  A long rocky climb up into the mist took us, after a number of drop outs and false summits, eventually to Ben Corr, where we had hoped to meet up with Andrew.  Unfortunately, he had passed through over an hour before, having run over Knockbrack, Benbrack, Muckanaght, Benbaun, and Bencolladuff. We followed him to the top of Derryclare, then down the rocky and slippery east ridge.  When I got back to the hostel I heard that Damien, Andrew and Neil were already in the pub watching the Ulster game.  After 7 hours on the hill, sprinting was not an option, but I was able to manage a fast hobble to join them, and Damien, ever the gentleman, put a pint of stout in front of me. Such Bliss.  Ulster were out of sight when I went out to buy a newspaper.  When I came back there were only 3 points in it!

Great meal across the road, with first class trad music.  Everyone celebrating the first lockdown free night out, and we finished off with a song or two in the hostel, thanks mainly to Sarah and Gertrude.  Damien, who rumour has it can sing, had snuck aff to bed.

Sunday is normally a short leisurely walk followed by a longer less leisurely drive home, and this was no exception.  The walk wasn’t that leisurely up Diamond hill, but the path is excellent, and something similar would be appropriate for Errigal, I think.

The Edge, the island, and the giraffe.

And so it came to pass that Margaret Q, Eugene and myself gathered at Bamba’s coffee van at the crown, the plan being to reacquaint ourselves with two of Malin Head’s classics, then paddle out to Glashedy island in the afternoon.  Dawson’s Diedre came first, and we used the corner on the left at the top as an exit, which is much better and safer.  Then we did The Cutting Lizard, (or Lizard Edge), at a gallop as Eugene had a date, and had to be away for one o’clock.  More coffee at the van, then off to Carrickabraghy where Derek was trying to squeeze into his wet suit and awaiting our arrival.  The paddle across was almost flat calm, and we continued around the island, through some reefs, and suddenly we could hear singing, quite harmonious, and my first thought was, “What are the Henry Girls doing out here?”  It was the Glashedy Seal Voice Choir, and they broke off rehearsals to come and have a look at us.  After circumnavigating the island, we beached on some stones, and this is where we met the giraffe.  Those of you that have read Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’ will be aware that species survive and indeed evolve in remote places cut off from the rest of the world (like Glashedy) and such was the case with the Glashedy Giraffe.  Well suited to the geography, it can stand on the beach and graze the vegetation from the top off the cliffs.  The GG has evolved a distinctive eroded head due to continuous and voracious attack by nesting sea birds who disapprove of its activities.  In the interests of anthropology, I decided to bring a specimen home, tied a bit of fisherman’s rope around its neck, and towed it behind the kayak.  Not entirely sure whether it was swimming or just walking, but when it emerged from the sea it caused a bit of a stir with the tourists.  Getting it to stay on the roof rack was more of a problem, as every time I got two legs on, the other two were off.  Good thing there were no low bridges on the way back to Culdaff.  It seems to be settling in well here, clearing the moss off the roof, and I have plans to use it for crag cleaning at Glenagivne and elsewhere

Glenagivney Keeps On Giving

Glenagivney Keeps On Giving

A few bods had shown interest in the Music House Crag just along the coast from Glenagivney. So on a fine sunny Saturday morning Alastair and I set off from Omagh. The sun continued to shine until just past the turning at Moville where it disappeared behind a bank of thick sea mist, never to reappear. The lanes leading to the parking space didn’t look familiar in the thick mist.
We waited around at the and soon the mist began to lift enough for us to check the sea was in the right place. Liam and Lucia soon appeared although they had hidden themselves behind the black bales for a while – alternative parking.
We enjoyed the high water boulder hop approach to the Music House Crag. Type 2 enjoyment, only truly savoured after the event. Although the sea mist didn’t leave all day the rock was perfectly dry, the friction excellent and the crag kept its reputation as midge free. Liam and Lucia found the quality of the rock and protection on Bootleg both excellent and confirmed the grade at HS. Maybe worth a star perhaps. A lesson in what can sometimes be found under the veg, see the before pic of Alan on the first ascent of ginger Lady.

Alastair got the second ascent of Caruso, surely the classic of the crag but sadly missing from the topo. Maybe if it was more visible then the crag would get more visitors. Everyone agreed this is a fantastic line and a three star route. The grade is a solid VS – although Lee took a star off for the grassy finish. The route is a bit changed since Liam found and despatched a loose flake from mid way and he was helpful in not fully letting rip until we had cleared away gear we had carefully laid out in the ‘drop zone’.
All in all another great day at a crag that really should see more visits. All the lines are cracker.

Happy Valli Meet – July 2021

With the promise of fine weather and good company it was an easy decision to journey to Sligo on Saturday morning for the Happy Valli Meet. 


I was the first to arrive at Valli’s; it was a fine morning so we headed to the Happy Valli Crag to make a start.  

By the time I was finishing the first climb ‘Colmcille Corner’ HS Andrew had arrived having just run over a clatter of mountains that morning and the evening before.  

We went on to climb ‘Ox Stair’, ‘Part Man Part Biscuit’ and ‘Muck on Top’, all fine routes with the common theme of little protection at the start but just enough higher up when you really needed it. Geoff and Alan arrived a short time later and climbed ‘Snow White and Colmcille Corner’.  

We broke for lunch then headed to Scalp na gCapail Crag a short drive away where we were joined by Hugh. The crag is right beside a road so access couldn’t be easier. The first route I climbed was a VS ‘Polish Paddy’ which had really nice climbing if a bit runout in places and hard for the grade. I climbed another VS ‘Juliana’, a good line with a few more options for protection. By all accounts the HS ‘Garda Síochána’ was s good line and well worth doing. It was obvious that a lot of work had gone into cleaning and developing the crag by local climbers, fair play to those involved. 

That evening we enjoyed a BBQ and a few libations around an open fire.  


The following morning Geoff and I headed back to the Happy Valli Crag for a few more routes whilst the others pursued other activities. We climbed ‘Raven’ which was loose, dirty and a wee bit scary. We then climbed ‘Snow White’ S, which I thought was tricky for the grade. We also tried a VS ‘Elizabethan’ which had potential for good climbing but was to dirty too climb safely so a detour was made to the right with a fair bit of pulling on heather to get to the top.  


In the afternoon all were back on the rock for one or two more routes before heading home. 


Thanks to Valli, Gerry and Anika for the hospitality and hosting a great weekend. 

Owey June 21

Owey Island. 2021 Midsummer camping, Kayaking and climbing trip.

Blessed were we with the weather this year. On Friday morning, Dan collected our gear (and Margaret) and Valli, Ivan and I kayaked across to the island.  After a leisurely morning Ivan and I climbed in the Black Spink, I led Kobatron, a nice severe, then Bikini Bottom, a sandbag at HS, nearer 4c we thought, then Ivan led the route that I thought was a first ascent last year, which turned out to be a variation of An Finka Dink E1 5c.  This has a harder start (which we avoided, as we started a bit higher) but goes left of the crux crack of An Finka Dink to finish with Kobatron. I called it something beginning with Bh….

Andrew and Laura joined us in the evening, then Anthony, PJ, Nigel, and surprisingly Marty (in his electric kayak) in the morning.  We top roped Norkapp as a warm up, 400K, then did the usual paddle for those who hadn’t done it before.  After lunch, 6 of us had a grand tango* on ‘Taming the Dragon’, a spectacular Diff on an accessible sea stack (*or tangle perhaps more appropriate). 

Margaret took photos from the cliff top.

Back to the Black Spink for a final route or two sans PJ, Anthony and Nigel, (who had got lost on the 10 minute walk).  Marty led Bh seconded by Laura and Andrew dragged me and Ivan up Kobatron again.  Beer, barby, and bed before dawn.  The highlight being the mackerel donated by Charles and wonderfully cooked on the fire by Valli, and of course Marty’s singing, duly accompanied by me on bouzouki, usually in a different key.

In the morning there was talk of a big wind a comin, so a hasty departure was made to Cruit.

Thanks again to our great friend Dan, ever the gentleman, who did everything he could for us.

Fair Head Small crag. 24th April 2021

Fair Head, fair do’s George. The Nordies got their first outing post- lockdown to the Small Crag, Fair Head, hosted by our chair George Carleton. We just squeezed inside the 15 person limit, due to two going for a walk and 2 choosing to boulder, so there was a great turnout. The sun shone, but it was ‘freezin-as- usual’ in north Antrim in the shade, with an east wind. Hardy folk, they who live there, and the grades are on the hardy side too. George arranged different abs, so we were able to spread the number of climbers across the crag, (not that any virus would have a chance in the constant wind). Great to see so many folk I havent been able to see in ages.


Virtual AGM 2020

The club AGM was held via Zoom call on Thursday 15th October 2020 at 8pm. Minutes can be downloaded here.

In attendance: Geoff, Sean, George, Damian, Alan, Neil, Valli, Neeku, Anthony, PJ, Andrew, Sarah.

Apologies: Alfie, Finbarr, Margaret

In summary, the following were decided.

Membership fees for 2021 were set at £35. £1.50/€2.00 for associate membership (for those who are MI members individually or via another club).

Climbfest 2021 is planned for Maghery, on the usual bank holiday weekend at the beginning of May.

All club officers re-elected to existing positions for the coming year.

Club Facebook Group to be changed to private group, to avoid all posts being in the public realm. Club FB Page to be used for public posting.

Tentative meets list for Winter 2020 to be put together and circulated. Spring 2021 Meets List TBD when restrictions have eased.