A Feather in the West

Discovering new sea cliff climbing routes on the small Irish island of Owey

Feature type Video

Read time 50 min read

Published May 27, 2020

Base editorial team
BASE editorial team BASE writers and editors who live and breathe adventure every day. We love adventure storytelling as much as we love adventure itself.

For climbers, the small island of Owey, off the west coast of Donegal, western Ireland, offers a tantalising paradise of high class climbing and tremendous new route potential at all grades. Acres of wave-blasted, pristine and aesthetically beautiful granite are waiting to be explored, and for the adventurous UK based climber, that’s a very attractive, extremely rare gem ripe to be picked. No need to fly half-way around the world, no need to scour Google Earth mapping images trying to find the exciting topography of undeveloped locations thousands of miles away: there’s a dream destination right on our doorsteps. But, and it’s a big but, there are a few barriers which will serve to protect the island from a clamorous surge of eager climbers.

Enough new routing potential to last at least twelve lifetimes.

In September 2019, a team of talented Irish climbers Chloe Condron, Kevin Kilroy, Michelle O’Loughlin and Conor McGovern travelled to Owey to explore sea cliffs that local guidebook writer Iain Miller claims, have “enough new routing potential to last at least twelve lifetimes”.

‘A Feather in the West’ is a film about their trad climbing experiences and the relatively niche pursuit of first ascents, set on the Wild Atlantic Way, off the west coast of County Donegal. Each of the climbers tries to find a new route project that holds meaning for them as an individual. As they explore the island, discovering what it takes to seek out new, uncharted climbs and turn them from a piece of salt-soaked, lichen-lined granite into a world-class three-star route in a guidebook. Owey Island has an ethereal otherworldly charm that harks back to a peacefulness and simplicity of life in bygone days; and our climbers soon discover an environment and community that is uniquely wondrous, beguiling and unforgettable.

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