Donegal gave its name to County Donegal, although Lifford is now the county town. Until the early 17th century, Donegal was the ‘capital’ of Tír Chonaill, a Gaelic kingdom controlled by the O’Donnell Clan of the Cenél Conaill. Donegal sits at the mouth of the River Eske and Donegal Bay, which is overshadowed by the Bluestack Mountains (‘the Croaghs’). The centre of the town, known as The Diamond, is a hub for music, poetic and cultural gatherings in the area.
Donegal Town itself is famous for being the former centre of government of the O’Donnell Clan, the great Gaelic royal family who ruled Tír Chonaill in west Ulster for centuries and who played a pivotal rôle in Irish history. Their original homeland lay further to the north in the area of Kilmacrenan. From the 15th to the 17th century, they were an important part of the opposition to the colonisation of Ireland by England. The town itself contains Donegal Castle, on the banks of the River Eske, and the remains of Donegal Abbey a Franciscan abbey which dates back to the 15th century on the Southern shore of the Bay.
Donegal Town is a quaint coastal town in the Northern part of the Republic of Ireland – population 2600 (2011). We ended our 3rd day in Ireland here and began our 4th. We stayed at Ardlenagh View B&B a short distance from town South on R267. A nice cozy and comfortable B&B. We met a couple from Montana while eating breakfast. They had a bit of trouble the day before. While on their way back to the B&B the night before they hit a large rock on the side of the road and bent the wheel on their rental car. Post breakfast activity – head to Donegal Town and seek repairs. That would be no fun; thankfully we didn’t have any issue like that. Our post breakfast activities consisted of touring Donegal Castle and walking around the town visiting many shops. Being dachshund fans, we were delighted to encounter a shop with wiener dog items. We are always on the look-out when we travel for something unique. Cyndie now has a wiener dog wallet.
Donegal Castle is situated in the centre of Donegal town, County Donegal in the northwest of Ireland. For most of the last two centuries, the majority of the buildings lay in ruins but the castle was almost fully restored in the late 1990s.
The castle consists of a 15th-century rectangular keep with a later Jacobean style wing. The complex is sited on a bend in the River Eske, near the mouth of Donegal Bay, and is surrounded by a 17th-century boundary wall. There is a small gatehouse at its entrance mirroring the design of the keep. Most of the stonework was constructed from locally sourced limestone with some sandstone. The castle was the stronghold of the O’Donnell clan, Lords of Tír Conaill and one of the most powerful Gaelic families in Ireland from the 5th to the 16th centuries.