Visitor Access Concept Plan for Inishtrahull

Client: Kendrew Colhoun

The Challenge

Inishtrahull is an uninhabited island located north east of Malin Head in County Donegal. The island is relatively small (0.34 km2) and home to the most northerly Irish lighthouse (unmanned). The island is renowned for its wildlife as is designated as:

  • Special Area of Conservation (SAC) with qualifying interest of vegetated sea cliffs of the Atlantic and Baltic coasts
  • Special Protection Area (SPA) with qualifying interest of Shag, Barnacle Goose and Common Gull on The island.

In addition, there are several items of interest in terms of built heritage such as, remains of former lighthouse, former lighthouse keeper’s house and cemetery / burial grounds.

It is understood the island has experienced a significant increase in unauthorised footfall in recent years. It is of increasing concern that some visitors are not aware of or do not respect the island’s special designations, to the detriment of the resident wildlife population and the built heritage of the island and are ultimately impacting negatively on the visitor experience by contributing to a cycle of decline. A balance is therefore required to ensure visitation can be managed in a sustainable way.

The Role

There is a good level of basic physical infrastructure on the island to engage visitors in sustainable accessrequiring only basic development designed to keep people ‘on track’ and provide enough interest on key routes to discourage ‘wandering’ into what are likely to be highly sensitive areas for wildlife. 

Recommendations proposed include:

  • Establish an improved island governance
  • Improve physical conditions, with the key goal of keeping visitors ‘on track’.


This Visitor Access Plan makes recommendations on a sustainable approach to facilitating legitimate access, in the context of an appropriate stakeholder governance model, conceptually outlining:

  • Visitor Information: pre-visit and during visit i.e. welcome, orientation, directional, safety and interpretation
  • Concept design for a sustainable walk trail network which allows exploration of Inishtrahull in a sensitive way
  • Capital and ongoing revenue costs for development and maintenance of the above.