In September 2019, a team of Irish climbers [Chloe Condron, Kevin Kilroy, Michelle O’Loughlin and Conor McGovern] travelled to the small island of Owey to explore sea cliffs that local guidebook writer Iain Miller claims, have “enough new routing potential to last at least twelve lifetimes”. Owey Island has a unique charm that harks back to a simplicity of life in bygone days.
‘A Feather in the West’ is a 45-minute 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, you can discover 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.
Huge Atlantic storms ravage the island and it bears the brunt of all the enormous swells that roll across the ocean. So the way the prevailing weather affects ferry crossings and accessibility is one of the main reasons it’s managed to remain a somewhat tranquil oasis. Acres of wave-blasted, pristine and aesthetically beautiful granite are waiting to be explored and, for adventurous UK-based climbers, that’s a very attractive, rare gem ripe to be tackled.
If you want to climb on Owey, you need to remember there are no AirBnB’s, no campsite, and no hotels. There is a ‘hostel’ but it’s a rudimentary bothy that sleeps a maximum of five and has no running water nor electricity. You can only stay there with prior permission.