Tucked away at the foot of the Bunglass Cliffs in western Donegal is the charming artisan coffee shop Tí Linn, where owner Paddy Clarke and wife Siobhan Gordon offer good food alongside local and regional Irish crafts to curious passers by.
Based along the only route to one of Donegal’s most spectacular vantage points has been a bonus for Tí Linn: its fresh, white-washed façade nestling in a rugged, wild landscape.
Paddy and Siobhan make visitors feel welcome - Tí Linn in Irish means ‘our house’. Siobhan runs her kitchen with efficiency and dedication to food freshly prepared from the best of local ingredients. She takes particular pride in making a range of gluten-free foods, like Coconut, Almond & Raspberry Jam Cookies, lightly flavoured with rose water, which are sweet, moist and delicious and the perfect accompaniment to an Illy coffee. There is also Lemon & Lime Polenta Cake and Cranberry Muffins. Even her soup, made fresh daily, is always gluten free.
Tí Linn also offers more traditional foods; Donegal Smoked Mackerel Paté served with Guinness Brown Bread and salad. The smooth, smoky flavour of the fish was deftly balanced with crème fraiche, lemon and a touch of horseradish. Also on offer was Killybegs Smoked Salmon. Fished and prepared locally, the smoked salmon is served with Dulse Brown Bread, which features another locally harvested ingredient – seaweed.
Siobhan also makes fresh scones, quiches and tartlets, some delightfully unusual for their flavours: Mozzarella & Basil Scone filled with Ham, Caramelised Onion & Sundried Tomato for example. To end our visit on a sweet note, we had Peach & Strawberry Crumble – meltingly good, the soft warm peaches and strawberries were topped with a pleasing buttery crunch. Next time we’ll be heading for the Banana Coconut Cherry Cake and Tunisian Orange Cake, among others.
When not indulging in a bit of homebaked Donegal goodness, visitors can also browse the crafts: Siobhan and her late mother’s paintings adorn cards and prints in the shop, while black-and-white atmospheric photos taken by their son are on display. Throughout the café side of Tí Linn, unique hand carved wooden benches, courtesy of Siobhan’s stepfather, add rustic character to its simple, white interior. Mingled among the family’s artistic contributions are crafts of all shapes and sizes, from pottery and glazed decorative tiles to scarves, knitwear, and handbags.
Don’t miss the nearby Bunglass Cliffs, the highest sea cliffs in Europe. If you are brave enough to drive or walk along the steep hairpin turns leading to the top, you will be rewarded by the unforgettable cliff-top sea view looking along Donegal’s craggy wild coast. Even better, owner Paddy possesses a wealth of knowledge about the local history and archaeology of the place and can give you a guided tour at the top. However, you are best to enquire in advance, if possible, as Paddy often gives private tours to coach buses passing through.
Tí Linn is well worth the visit for its refreshingly different take on an Irish coffee shop. Much effort goes into the detail which gives it a strong sense of place. A reflection of the owners’ passion.