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Gola Island facts for kids

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Native name:
Oileán Ghabhla
Derrybeg - Gola Island from pier on Gweedore Bay - - 1178446.jpg
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A view of Gola Island from Gaoth Dobhair
Location Atlantic Ocean
Coordinates 55°05′30″N 8°22′00″W / 55.09167°N 8.36667°W / 55.09167; -8.36667
Province Ulster
County Donegal
Population 15 (2011)

Gola (Irish: Gabhla or Oileán Ghabhla) is a small island off the coast of Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland. The island was unpopulated as recently as 1996 but in recent years people have started to return. A ferry service operates during the holiday season and on request for the remainder of the year.


Gola Island is one kilometre (0.62 mi) off the coast of Gweedore. Its many beaches and secluded bays attract visitors throughout the year. The island was populated up until the mid-1960s. Today most of the buildings on the island are derelict, but some have been renovated as holiday homes and the island is now inhabited for most of the year.

The island terrain is mildly hilly with many bog road and sheep paths. At present, during the winter the only inhabitants on Gola are animals. Sheep and some shy goats tend to reside along the cliffs. To the back of the island, seabirds are numerous, with cormorants, shags, razorbills, guillemots as well as the odd passing gannet and skua. At the southern end of the near Port na Crin and the old school house, many shore species of bird can be admired such as the eider, oystercatcher, divers and various species of tern.

Gola is the birthplace of renowned Irish writer, Seán 'ac Fhionnlaoich. The island has also been immortalised in the traditional children's song Báidín Fheilimí ("Feilimí's Little Boat") [1].

Before 2005, there was no mains electricity available on the island, all dwellings relying on generators, oil lamps and renewable power sources such as solar and wind.


The table below reports data on Gola's population taken from Discover the Islands of Ireland (Alex Ritsema, Collins Press, 1999) and the Census of Ireland.

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1841 68 —    
1851 143 +110.3%
1861 165 +15.4%
1871 96 −41.8%
1881 107 +11.5%
1891 131 +22.4%
1901 142 +8.4%
1911 169 +19.0%
Year Pop. ±%
1926 168 −0.6%
1936 139 −17.3%
1946 132 −5.0%
1951 131 −0.8%
1956 125 −4.6%
1961 93 −25.6%
1966 43 −53.8%
1971 0 −100.0%
Year Pop. ±%
1979 0 0.00%
1981 0 0.00%
1986 0 0.00%
1991 0 0.00%
1996 0 0.00%
2002 5 —    
2006 4 −20.0%
2011 15 +275.0%

Media depictions

RTÉ offended viewers by depicting a dog having its legs tied together and being tossed overboard into the sea off the coast of Gola Island as part of its TV50 celebrations in a broadcast on 3 January 2012.

Radio na Gaeltachta reported that Donegal County Council has begun a planning investigation into major planning breaches on the island. Mobile homes have been illegally placed on the island along with other building regulation breaches. Those affected were notified of the breaches.


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