Amidst claims right across all sections of the local media this week that Donegal has had ‘the worst tourism seasons ever’ Inishowen is really bucking the trend big time - it’s booming.
In fact, three different business people in the peninsula told this newspaper that the peninsula has ‘never had it so good’.
Donal Doherty, of the award winning Harry’s Restaurant at Bridgend, seemed shocked to be asked if trade was bad.
“That’s definitely not the case. We have never been busier. We have never seen so many customers come from all over Ireland and beyond in any one year. I often think we might have vistors from each of the 32 counties in a single day.
“I’m also hearing the same positive story from other Inishowen hotels and visitor attractions like Doagh Famine Village.
“People are now holidaying at home more and willing to travel to find the good value, good food, friendly hospitality and ‘real’ Ireland that Inishowen might just be becoming famous for.’
Mr. Doherty said this was the second year of major growth - this year is up 15% on last year which was up 15% on the year before.
At the Strand Hotel in Ballyliffin, Theresa McLaughlin, described herself as ‘over the moon’ the way trade was going.
A director of the famous hotel, she stated: “We are booked up this week and next. At the moment we have golfers from Waterford, Tipperary and a lot of the other deep south counties staying here.
“We are very, very busy.
“We had a good early start to the holiday season - April and May were fantastic - though there was a big dip in June. But it’s been brilliant since.”
Sharon Hirrell, of the ‘The Health Shop’ in Carndonagh, was of the opinion that it was ‘something like the good old days’ again in Donegal - like it was before ‘The Troubles’ drove away what was becoming a major growth industry here.
“It’s noticeably the best year we have had in a very long time. Maybe it’s because we have become a lot cheaper - most prices here are now way, way down - or that people aren’t going abroad.
“I’m also hearing a lot of English and Scottish accents on the street, and there are lots of people from the North and down south staying around here.