Atlantic Gaels

Links Between Donegal and the Hebrides

Aidan O’Hara is an award-winning writer and broadcaster in both English and Gaelic. He is a native of the Inishowen peninsula in Co. Donegal from where Islay and the Paps of Jura can be easily seen on a clear day. As a small boy looking out to sea, he was intrigued by the prospect of what might lie in store in the land across the waves. In this exciting and informative booklet he explores the historic and cultural links between Donegal and the Hebrides, and while dealing briefly with the obvious ties of language and music, faith and folklore, he also uncovers little-known facts that will surprise and amaze.

How many people, for instance, know about the prominent Hebridean clan of learned people whose roots are not in the islands but in Donegal? He writes of the sad fate of some 3,000 men, women and children of Clanranald who sailed into Lough Foyle one summer’s day in the year 1586, hoping to make a new life for themselves in Ireland, and were never heard from again. They were of the Islands soldiering tradition known as gallóglaigh/gallowglasses that became established in Ireland in the 13th and 14th centuries. It is all part of this account of the common heritage of our people whom Aidan calls Atlantic Gaels.

Available to buy from the Islands Book Trust.


“His life experiences” in the area and superb scholarship have resulted in a fascinating account of the ancient ‘ties that bind’ between Donegal and the Hebrides.”
[Dr. Doug Orr, President Emeritus, Warren Wilson College, Asheville, North Carolina]

“It is obvious from the start of the book that the author has a close personal knowledge of the Hebrides and is eminently placed to make comparisons between Inishowen and the islands. The publishers are to be commended for this interesting publication and are fortunate to have an author on board who has an intimate and comprehensive knowledge of Irish and Scottish history.”
[Dr. Seán Beattie, in “Book Reviews”, Donegal Annual – Journal of County Donegal Historical Society, No. 25, 2013.]