Atlantic Coastal Cruises, Meet Johnny and Patrice Gallagher

Johnny and Patrice Gallagher of Atlantic Coastal Cruises. Photo supplied by the Gallaghers.

Where in Donegal are you from?
Atlantic Coastal Cruises is based out of Ireland's premier fishing port, Killybegs, which is situated along the Wild Atlantic Way.

The business is ideally situated with all the local infrastructure for both vessel and vehicle parking facility needs.

When and how did you establish Atlantic Coastal Cruises?

Atlantic Coastal Cruises was set up in 2019 by both of us.

We were born and raised in Killybegs, which brings an abundance of local knowledge to the table.

It is never easy to start a new business but with a lot of grit and teamwork, we pulled it off and are very happy with how our cruises are progressing.

What was it that prompted both of you to start this kind of business? Did you have any experience doing boat tours before?

Fishing and marine activity have been in my family for generations, so the love of boats and the sea was a given through my upbringing.

Malin Head in Co. Donegal along the Wild Atlantic Way. Photo: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland.

I have been looking into this business for the last couple of years and I did not believe it was viable until recently. I have come to realize that it is indeed a viable tourism opportunity and largely and predominately due to the introduction of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Donegal has always been a beautiful place to visit. It is actually one of Ireland's best-kept secrets. It is still largely a natural and untapped location, but the recent increase in visitors has been greatly welcomed.

Describe the vessel that you bring tourists on and what kind of experience they can expect onboard?

The harbor at Killybegs, Co. Donegal.

Our vessel, the “Pirate Queen,” is a 20-meter steel vessel, certified to the highest standard by the Irish Maritime Survey Office.

We operate with a highly trained local crew with the capacity to carry 96 passengers on a single trip. We have both inside and outside seating areas.

We also offer tea, coffee, and snacks and have a fully licensed bar on board as well.

a boat Atlantic Coastal Cruises
“The Pirate Queen,” which is managed and run by Atlantic Coastal Cruises. Photo: Atlantic Coastal Cruises Facebook.

In addition, we host private catered parties, specially tailored to clients' requests and perfect for a special occasion.

How are you preparing for the 2024 season?

We have been doing a lot of promotional work, being a new venture and especially since many people have not heard of us yet.

a sea stack Atlantic Coastal Cruises
See the sea stack at Malin Beg, Co. Donegal, when you take a cruise with Atlantic Coastal Cruises. Photo: Atlantic Coastal Cruises Facebook.

We are also working on some new exciting add-ons for our local harbor tour, which we hope to announce in the near future. I believe this will generate a lot of interest as it has never been done in this country or perhaps Europe before!!!

Do you go on the tours yourself or do you have tour guides who do that for you?

Both Patrice and I are on the vessel. We have a pre-recorded commentary that gives some truly amazing facts along the way from our points of interest.

We are also on hand to give and offer additional local knowledge.

What do you want visitors to remember most about Atlantic Coastal Cruises?

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Rotten Island Lighthouse off the coast of Co. Donegal, one of the sites you will see on a tour with Atlantic Coastal Cruises. Photo: By Louise price, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13935814

Our aim is for all our passengers to have a truly memorable cruise. Donegal’s rugged coastline is truly beautiful. No other bay in Ireland offers so much.

We have two lighthouses that date back to the 1830s, a live organic salmon fish farm, and Europe’s highest sea cliffs, Sliabh Liag.

This is the crowning jewel of our cruise.

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Watch the playful dolphins off the coast of Donegal while on an Atlantic Coastal Cruises trip. Photo: Atlantic Coastal Cruises Facebook.

Another passenger highlight is the abundance of wildlife, especially the dolphins, which we have been seeing regularly on our trips.

Of the tourists who took your tours last year, were most of them from the USA or a mix of tourists from different countries?

We really have had a mixture of passengers. We have been lucky to welcome people from all over Ireland, Europe, and the USA.

How did they hear about you?

From the feedback we have had, people have discovered us mainly through online avenues. Facebook, our website, and positive feedback through word of mouth are where we have gained the most traction.

What makes your boat tours different from other tours off the coast of Donegal?

We are the only dedicated coastal cruise vessel in Donegal that is capable of carrying 96 passengers on a single trip.

We also uniquely offer private catered parties with a fully licensed bar for private or public events.

Is there is anything else you want visitors to know about Atlantic Coastal Cruises?

sea cliffs Atlantic Coastal Cruises
The Slieve League Cliffs in Co. Donegal is one of the places that you'll get up close to with Atlantic Coastal Cruises. Photo: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland.

Atlantic Coastal Cruises is a truly unique experience and the best way to view Europe’s highest sea cliffs, Donegal Bay, and all the splendor it has to offer.

Our dedicated crew is on hand to make this a trip to remember & one that visitors will want to do again!!!

The view from Sliabh Liag. Photo: Matt Dean, https://www.flickr.com/photos/143733090@N05/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

From babies to a wonderful lady in her 90s, it is suitable for all and our captain will even let you steer the vessel and take home a signed certificate to proudly hang on your wall.

To arrange a boat tour on Atlantic Coastal Cruises in 2023, be sure to reach out to Johnny and Patrice at [email protected].

Don't forget to find out more about this enterprising Donegal couple and their tourism venture by visiting their website.

Read more: Cute Border Collie and her Owner Highlight the Beauty of Donegal