Inch Island (Irish: An Inse, meaning 'The Island';[3] Also spelled in Irish as An Inis.[4]) is in Inishowen, County Donegal, Ireland. The island is in Lough Swilly, a sea lough on the northern coast of Ireland.[5][6]

Inch Island
Native name:
An Inse / Inis na nOsirí[1][2]
Inch island donegal.png
Inch Island from Grianan of Aileach
Inch Island is located in island of Ireland
Inch Island
Inch Island
LocationLough Swilly
Coordinates55°03′54″N 7°29′42″W / 55.065°N 7.495°W / 55.065; -7.495Coordinates: 55°03′54″N 7°29′42″W / 55.065°N 7.495°W / 55.065; -7.495
Area13 km2 (5.0 sq mi)
Highest elevation222 m (728 ft)
Population448 (2011)

Geography and HistoryEdit

Inch Island is around 5 square miles (13 square kilometres) in area.[7] The island lies in Lough Swilly, Inch being just off the south-western coast of the Inishowen mainland, near the village of Burt.[5] Inch Island is connected to the mainland by a causeway road, known as the Inch Banks. The island's highest hill, Inch Top, is 222 metres in height.[5][8] Another Irish language name for Inch Island is Inis na nOsirí, meaning 'Island of the Oysters'.[1][2]


Historical population
1841 978—    
1851 769−21.4%
1901 462−39.9%
1951 414−10.4%
1996 397−4.1%
2002 438+10.3%
2006 438+0.0%
Source: John Chambers. "Islands - Change in Population 1841 - 2011". Retrieved 19 February 2015.

The table reports data taken from Discover the Islands of Ireland (Alex Ritsema, Collins Press, 1999) and the Census of Ireland.

Relevant buildingsEdit

Presbyterian kirk (church), located at Carnaghan.
The beach looking ENE

The remains of a portal tomb with a nearby burial chamber, probably constructed using parts of the original tomb, is located near Carnaghan (Irish: Baile Mhic Cearnachain) on the south-western part of the island.[9]

A 15th century castle, known as Inch Castle, stands on a cliff overlooking Lough Swilly. At the northern tip of the island is Inch Fort, an early 19C defensive structure.

The island's Presbyterian church is one of the smallest of the surrounding area (just some 14 families are members of it);[10] the island's Catholic church, usually known simply as 'the Chapel', is dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes and was built in 1932.[7]


Inch island is a well known birdwatching site with a relevant population of migratory and wintering birds. Bird species on the island include Greenland white fronted goose, whooper swan and greylag goose.[11]


Inch Wildfowl Reserve features an 8 km looped walk, catering for outdoor recreational activity including walking, running and cycling. The site includes two car parks, seating, viewpoints and a number of bird hides open to the public. This scenic pathway follows around the lake edge and offers panoramic views of the surrounding agricultural landscape and wetlands.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "New website offers 'virtual museum exhibition' of Inch island heritage". Derry Journal. 4 May 2020. Archived from the original on 22 June 2020. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Inch Heritage". Archived from the original on 20 October 2021.
  3. ^ "An Inse". Placenames Database of Ireland. Dublin City University. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  4. ^ Patrick McKay, A Dictionary of Ulster Place-Names, p. 82. The Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, 1999.
  5. ^ a b c Discoverer Series Sheet 7 (F Edition). Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland (O.S.N.I.), Land and Property Services, Belfast, 2017.
  6. ^ Discovery Series Sheet 2 (3rd Edition). Ordnance Survey of Ireland (O.S.I.), Dublin, 2005.
  7. ^ a b "Donegal Islands - INCH ISLAND - Population". WeLoveDonegal. Archived from the original on 21 February 2020. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  8. ^ "Inishowen Area /Inch Top". MountainViews. Ordnance Survey Ireland. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  9. ^ "'Inch Island' : Portal Tomb". Failte Ireland. Archived from the original on 2 March 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  10. ^ "Inch Presbyterian Church - Fahan Presbyterian Church". Archived from the original on 25 September 2021. Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  11. ^ "Inch Island -Donegal". Failte Ireland. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  12. ^ "Inch Wildfowl Reserve Looped Walk". Archived from the original on 9 April 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2019.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Inch Island at Wikimedia Commons