The main route from Donegal Town to northern County Donegal is highway N15. It passes through the Blue Stack Mountains between Croaghconnelagh and Croaghonagh mountains in what is known as the Barnesmore Gap. (Actually the name Barnesmore means “Big Gap” in Irish.)
The County Donegal Railway also once ran through the pass at Barnesmore. The rail line closed during the 1950s.
The Barnesmore Gap was a convenient location for highwaymen to prey on travellers during the 18th century. Soon the British Army established barracks at Barnesmore to end this practice. Gallows were erected at the pass around 1775 to execute some of the more violent highwaymen. In my novel, Donegal Generations, one of my characters led the life of a highwayman and met his fate at Barnesmore.
At one time, there was an inn at Barnesmore Gap where travellers and their horses rested before resuming their journey. It was called Biddy O’Barnes It is still there as Biddy O’Barnes Pub, and it has been there for centuries. Highway N15 used to pass right by it until recently, but one can exit the highway to visit it. Long ago, Rosie O’Callaghan was the proprietor of the pub. Near closing, Rosie would call “time” and then make everyone say the rosary. Following the prayers, she would start serving drinks again. Biddy’s is still a popular pub and restaurant, only 6 miles from Donegal Town and 9 miles from Ballybofey. See: http://homepage.eircom.net/~biddys/index.html to learn about Biddy O’Barnes.