Dear Old Inishowen – the most memorable of adventure holidays in Donegal, Ireland

Coasteering in Donegal

The audience cheered at the end of Jimmy McLaughlin’s rendition of ‘Dear Old Inishowen’, not only because of his fine a cappella accomplishment but also because he was singing it in McGrory’s front bar in Culdaff, the heart of his dear old Inishowen. He was here because his family was the subject of an Irish television series called Dúshlán 1881 – Living the Eviction, about famine evictions from the nearby village of Carrowmenagh, and they were having a screening in the hotel to celebrate. I was there to explore the wilderness that remains all around this northernmost point of Ireland, travelling with one of a handful of companies offering adventure holidays in Donegal. Right now, however, in this cocoon of Culdaff, my cultural immersion was like an unexpected and delicious appetiser.

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HF Holidays – fine fellows celebrate a hundred years of outdoor holidays

Long before the words ethical or eco started creeping into the tourism industry’s boardrooms, there was one man who was quietly laying the foundations of fairness in travel. Thomas Arthur Leonard (or TA as he was known) founded HF Holidays in the UK a hundred years ago and it is still one of the leading providers of walking holidays in the UK and Europe. Although TA’s achievements have been relatively uncelebrated to date, the centenary of an organisation which still remains the only UK holiday provider that is a truly co-operative society, gives us a good opportunity to take stock of this pioneering philanthropist’s achievements.

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