Gola Island

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Native name: Oileán Ghabhla
Inis Gabhla - geograph.org.uk - 12376.jpg
Gola Island is located in island of Ireland
Gola Island
Location Atlantic Ocean
Coordinates 55°05′30″N 8°22′00″W / 55.09167°N 8.36667°W / 55.09167; -8.36667Coordinates: 55°05′30″N 8°22′00″W / 55.09167°N 8.36667°W / 55.09167; -8.36667
Province Ulster
County Donegal
Population 15 (as of 2011)

Gola (Irish: Gabhla or Oileán Ghabhla) is a small island off the coast of Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland. The island was unpopulated as recently as 1996 but in recent years people have started to return. A ferry service operates during the holiday season and on request for the remainder of the year[1]


Gola island is one kilometre off the coast of Gweedore. Its many beaches and secluded bays attract visitors throughout the year. The island was populated up until the mid-1960s. Today most of the buildings on the island are derelict, but some have been renovated as holiday homes and the island is now inhabited for most of the year.

The island terrain is mildly hilly with many bog road and sheep paths. At present, during the winter the only inhabitants on Gola are animals. Sheep and some shy goats tend to reside along the cliffs. To the back of the island, seabirds abound, cormorants, shags, razorbills, guillemots as well as the odd passing gannet and skua. At the southern end of the near Port na Crin and the old school house, many shore species of bird can be admired such as the eider duck, oystercatcher, diver as well as various terns.

Gola is the birthplace of renowned Irish writer, Seán 'ac Fhionnlaoich. The island has also been immortalised in the traditional children's song Báidín Fhéilimí ("Féilimí's Little Boat") [1].

There is no mains electricity available on the island, all dwellings are therefore off the grid, relying on generators, oil lamps and renewable power sources such as solar and wind.

Rock climbing[edit]

Gola is renowned for the quantity and quality of the rock-climbing available on its sea-cliffs, and has been very popular with climbers, especially on long weekends, since its climbing potential was discovered in about 1994.

The cliffs are composed of a brownish granite which gives excellent friction and generally good protection. The climbing is concentrated around the sea-cliffs surrounding the Mweelmurrinagh hill on the north-west coast of the island, in several cliff-bound inlets and exposed faces, and one small inland cliff which is popular when the tide is high or the sea rough. Climbs are often tidal, and many are approachable only by abseil., there are about 170 climbs, all single-pitch, with a wide range of grades.

Visiting climbers normally travel to the island by small ferry from Bunbeg or Derrybeg and camp near the beach at Machaire na nGall on the island's west coast, close to the main climbing areas. The neighbouring smaller islands of Owey and Umphin also offer similar climbing, but do not have a regular ferry service.


The table below reports data on Gola's population taken from Discover the Islands of Ireland (Alex Ritsema, Collins Press, 1999) and the Census of Ireland.

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1841 68 —    
1851 143 +110.3%
1901 142 −0.7%
1951 131 −7.7%
Year Pop. ±%
1996 0 −100.0%
2002 5 +inf%
2006 4 −20.0%
2011 15 +275.0%
Source: John Chambers. "Islands - Change in Population 1841 - 2011". irishislands.info. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 

Media depictions[edit]

RTÉ offended viewers by depicting a dog having its legs tied together and being tossed overboard into the sea off the coast of Gola Island as part of its TV50 celebrations in a broadcast on 3 January 2012.[2]


See also[edit]


  • Alan Tees (editor), Rock Climbs in Donegal (Mountaineering Council of Ireland, 2002) ISBN 0-902940-17-1 [2]
  1. ^ Discover Ireland Gabhla
  2. ^ "Horror as RTÉ show footage of dog being drowned off Donegal coast". Donegal Daily. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 

External links[edit]