Arch hunting in Donegal, Ireland – The Breeches Sea Arch and more …

Searching for natural arches in Ireland is not an easy task, there isn’t any official record of them. Even using fine detailed ordnance survey maps can be hit and miss. Some maps mention them, others show a star or nothing at all. In the case of ‘the Breeches’ they are not any map. There is good reason why they are not publicised. Because many of these sea arches are too difficult to approach or there’s often a mighty drop into ocean. Especially on the west side of Ireland where the Atlantic ocean is wild and fearsome in the winter months.

The Breeches #2

The image above is available for print by the artist –

The Breeches found in Donegal, located outside of the town of Dungloe on the way to Maghery.  An ideal place to stay was at a friendly B&B just outside Dungloe, the ‘Radharc an Oileain’ B&B  (Radharc an Oileain – which means ‘View of the Island’ in Irish if I remember correctly) serves a decent breakfast with very comfortable, clean and modern rooms. They have WiFi too. In fact it was very convenience as it’s only a few minutes away by car to reach the cliff top.

Off I went hoping to capture the Breeches Rock, just after first light. The track down to the Arch, well there isn’t really a track. Quite simply its too dangerous to approach for casual walkers. It is a steep climb down to the shore, massive boulder line the bay. It took awhile to navigate between them while all the time guarding your footstep to ensure not to slip on the wet rock. Make sure to check the tidal times otherwise you won’t be able to close enough to the rock itself.

The Double Arch

After I had photographed the Breeches Rock for awhile and the sun’s light was getting too hard to make anymore descent images. It was time to take a ramble to the north. After walking and clambering through the uneven maze of rocks I was at the other side, only to discover another arch but not just one at first. The closer I approached the headland that jutted out to sea another window opened, was it another arch ? It certainly was, a double arch. The tide was now out and shore became clear. I had only brought the iPhone as I hadn’t planned another image and quite frankly I thought it to be to much of an ordeal across the rocks with all the equipment. I was surprised as doesn’t seem to mention anywhere nor is it photographed or documented at all this double arch.

Breeches Double Arch - Latitude 54.913667˚N and Longitude 8.455333˚W (taken with the iPhone)

As I got close to my new discovery, I noticed a cave which will only be accessible as low tide just before the “double”.  “There’s another arch!, in a cave”, I proclaimed and also two openings at the end of the cave’s wall. I photographed both shown below here. The inner arch is colorful and under two metres tall.

Cave Opening - Cave Arch - Latitude 54.913667˚N and Longitude 8.455333˚W (taken with the iPhone)

Cave Arch - Latitude 54.913667˚N and Longitude 8.455333˚W (taken with the iPhone)

At the other end of the shore to the south of the Breeches Rock there is another arch, not so spectacular of course in regard to the main feature but nonetheless an arch of about 4 metres tall (see below). Even though the bay is not very long may about 500m it takes a lot of time to reach the end. It’s absolutely essential to take your time to navigate through the shoreline, as it’s perilous, one slip can cause a lot injury to yourself. It is raw nature, untouched and unspoilt by human hand – wild in all it’s beauty.

Breeches Door - Latitude 54.916333˚N 8.456667˚W

The Breeches rock and sea stacks beside it  can be seen below in ‘The Breeches #2’

The Breeches #1

Before the Breeches is Crohy head with old tower on its headland. Below the tower to the left of it another arch can be found. This one is narrow but nonetheless an opening through the rock. At guess it’s about 3-4 metres high, it’s hard to tell as this was taken at high tide. It is not accessible as there’s no shore here.

Crohy Head Sea Arch - 54.923097˚ N 8.457155˚W

 The image above is available for print by the artist –

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Getting the Name

It’s often difficult to find the name of a natural arch. However thanks to the National Archive and their collection of glass plate prints being digitized, I came across an image with a title.

Another image from the Bar man in the Bayview Bar in Dungloe which alerted me to the fact of the National Archive.


Further details at

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