Donegal, Ireland Tourist Attractions
Donegal (Dún na nGall, "Fortress of the Foreigners"), county town of Donegal county, lies in Donegal Bay, near the north end of the Irish west coast, at the point where the River Eske flows into the bay and the N15 runs into the N56.Originally a Celtic settlement, the town owes its present form to the regular plan, centered on the market square appropriately called the Diamond, laid out by the British authorities in the early 17th C.The obelisk in the market square was erected in honor of the Four Masters.
Donegal Castle (National Monument) is an imposing ruin situated on the rocky bank of the River Eske. The chief seat of the O'Donnells, princes of Tir Chonaill, it fell into English hands in 1607. The large square keep (1505) was then altered by the insertion of windows, and a splendid fireplace carved with coats of arms was constructed on the main floor. In 1610 a fortified manor house was built on to the tower.
Address: Donegal Town, Ireland
Opening hours: Mar 15 to Oct 31: 10am-6pm
Entrance fee in EUR: Family €8.25, Adult €3.50, Senior €2.50, Group discounts €2.50, Child €1.25
Useful tips: Last admission 45 minutes before closing.
Guides: Interpretive sessions sometimes available.
Picturesquely situated at the mouth of the River Eske are the remains of Donegal Abbey, a 15th C. Franciscan house (National Monument). Here the Four Masters, Michael O'Clery and his three assistants, compiled their celebrated "Annals" between 1630 and 1636. They are commemorated by an obelisk in the Diamond, Donegal's market square.
The surroundings of Donegal have much of interest for the visitor.
5mi/8km northeast of Donegal is Lough Eske, which offers good fishing. From the north end of the lough, which is circled by a road, a detour can be made to a waterfall in a valley 2mi/3km north.
Blue Stack Mountains
The valley north of Lough Eske near Donegal climbs up into the Blue Stack Mountains and to Lough Belshade.
The valley north of Lough Eske near Donegal climbs up into the Blue Stack Mountains and to a beautiful little lough enclosed by high rock walls, Lough Belshade.
3mi/5km south of Donegal on the N15 a road on the left (R232) leads to Pettigo, from which the R233 wends its way north through the barren landscape to Lough Derg. In the lough lies Station Island, known in the Middle Ages as St Patrick's Purgatory, to which there is an important pilgrimage every year. The churches and pilgrim hospices on the island can be seen from the shores of the lough.In pagan times a cave on Station Island was believed to be the entrance to the Underworld. It gained its name of St Patrick's Purgatory when a traveling medieval knight claimed to have seen the fires of Purgatory in the cave.The pilgrims who make what has been called the "hardest pilgrimage in Christendom" are now almost exclusively Irish. They spend three days on the island performing the numerous penances prescribed, mainly vigils and fasting.
12mi/18km south of Donegal, on the Atlantic, is Rossnowlagh, a holiday resort with a beautiful sandy beach. The modern Franciscan friary houses the Donegal Historical Society Museum, with Stone Age and Bronze Age material, including a finely wrought sword found during building work in the neighboring town of Ballyshannon.
4.5mi/7km west of Donegal on the N56 is Mountcharles, on a steep-sided hill, with a splendid view and good fishing in the Eany Water.
Located on a flat isthmus in the shelter of Horn Head, Dunfanaghy used to be a fishing village until its harbor silted up. It has now turned to tourism, attracting visitors to its long sandy beaches and sailing, surfing and water-skiing facilities. Sport fishing is also available in this village of 280 inhabitants.
Cavanacor Historic House and Craft Center
The house was built in the early 1600s and furnished in Jacobean and Georgian style. In the fortified yard, visitors can find museum, art gallery, working pottery and walled garden.
Lifford - Seat of Power Visitor Centre
This 18th C. courthouse contains an audio visual presentation on Chieftains of Ireland. Re-enacted the famous trials in the courtroom scene.
Irish International Surf Festival
This annual 10-day festival takes place in mid-August.