Posted on 20 Comments

Over to Owey Island

Blog about Owey Island Donegal, Ireland

I love painting the coast, particularly if it’s rocky. Owey Island, lies just a short distance off Cruit Island near Kincasslagh in west County Donegal. Strictly speaking there have been no permanent residents since the 1970s. [Photos from]

There is no electricity or mains water, yet plenty of people visit and many visit during the summer months. If you want to visit, there is a ferry service run by Dan the Ferryman.

View of Ireland From Owey Island: Ian Miller
View of Ireland From Owey Island (Ian Miller)

The name Owey, in Irish Gaelic “uaigh”, means cave. The island is a cavers, kayakers and rock climbers’ paradise.

The island is encircled by massive rock stacks and it also has an underground lake. As I am cave-phobic this video is the closest I will ever get to it!

I am fascinated by rock stacks and Donegal has plenty of them. I like to think of how these massive structures have gradually been eroded by wind and waves over thousands of years, forming first sea arches and then stacks.

I also love the colour of the rocks and the wild Atlantic Ocean. The ocean is incredible shades of blues, greens and mauves, mixed in with browns and frothing surf. Although I feel I am getting better at representing the layers of Donegal sky and clouds, but capturing the movement of the seas is still frustrating me.

Painting of Owey Island, West Donegal, Ireland.
Over to Owey Island (SOLD) 


If you to find out more about Owey Island see Ian Miller’s Unique Ascent’s website for detailed descriptions and incredible videos.

Just thought I’d add a post script about the “Holy Jaysus Wall”. I think if you look at photo of it you will understand the name. It makes me feel ill just looking at it!

Holy Jesus Wall, Owey Island
Holy Jesus Wall

Irish climber and alpinist John McCune, climbed it in 2014.

Here’s a fascinating film clip from the 1970s about Owey Island’s postman, Neil McGonagle, who used to visit the dwindling population on Owey Island by small boat four times a week to maintain the island’s contact with the outside world.

20 thoughts on “Over to Owey Island

  1. An interesting island, with a ghost town and an underground lake!

    1. It’s only a part-time ghost town, people visit in the summer months.

      1. not even a part time ghost town, we just don`t live there all year round now but owey is still our home, great paintings by the way

      2. Thank you, Frank

    1. Thank you, Anne. I’d like the get the ferry over to the island and explore further.

  2. I love that there is a ‘Holy Jaysus Wall’ on that map! I wonder how it got its name? Was it really badly built?!

    Your painting is beautiful. I love the blue and then the blue-green sea.

    1. You made me laugh. I think it’s call “Holy Jaysus Wall” because it’s a super scary climb. I have included a link with scary photos here:

  3. A wonderful painting and photos of the island an good information.Superb

  4. Wow, what an amazing place!

    1. Thank you, Alexis. It is very special.

  5. Good Lord! There is no way on God’s good earth that you’d get me on that wall 🙁 🙁 Or in the caves. But I could look at the stacks indefinitely. 🙂

    1. My sentiments exactly, I don’t think I’d even peer over the top of that wall to have a look at it!

  6. That’s some great scenery, I can see how it inspires you. The Holy Jaysus Wall has such a great, memorable – yet totally descriptive – name. I love it!

    1. I can’t believe that several people (not ordinary mortals) have climbed up it! Thank you, Gabriela.

  7. I think i can’t look to the people who are trying to reach the top. there.Makes me sick

  8. Hi, the map you have of the rock climbing crags isn’t owned by Iain Miller of Unique Ascent but is owned and under copyright of me. Can you please contact me to discuss.

    Dave Millar

    1. Sorry Dave, I have removed the map from my blog

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