We were in Donegal for an afternoon but were pleased we took a tour of the castle in town. It is very accessible, it's right in Donegal Town. It was built by the O'Donnells in the 15th century beside the River Eske. It's had 17th century additions and it's very well furnished with Persian rugs and French tapestries. One of the best furnished Irish castles I've seen from this period.
It has a great history and if you're in Donegal it shouldn't be missed. It takes about an hour to for the tour.
Glenveagh National Park is set along the Derryveagh Mountains in the North West Corner of Donegal. With over 16,000 hectares of mountains, lakes and woodland, the park offers the ultimate getaway for outdoor enthusiasts, families in search of adventure or those who seek peace and tranquility.
Glenveagh National Park is open to the public all year round. The facilities however (visitor centre, restaurant, castle tea room) are closed from October to March.
Cars are not allowed beyond the visitor centre area, where there is a large car park. A minibus service runs regularly between the visitor centre and the castle, a journey of 3,5km. Tickets can be purchased at the visitor centre or the castle admissions desk. The bus route, which will take you along the lakeshore provides excellent views of the glen, mountains and lake.
Explore the miles of trails or walks :
A track from the castle to the head of the glen is a pleasant walk along the lake shore, through oak woodland and upwards into the open mountain land. The is a short path (less than 1km) from the old sawmill beyond the castle to a amazing outlook point above the castle. The nature trail, which starts near the visitor centre is 2km long. It passes through both palted and native woods and beautiful views of the lake and the castle in the distance.
Guided walks led by park rangers in June, July & August, and there is a guided 6-hour hill walk every month from March to October.
Guided tours of the gardens are available by appointment with the head gardener.
The Park contains the peaks of the two highest mountains in Co. Donegal, Errigal (752m) and Slieve Snaght (683m). The steep sided valley of Glenveagh holds the 5.5km-long Lough Veagh.
Arainn Mhor (Arranmore)is an island of seven square miles situated just 3 miles off the coast of Donegal. The car ferry en route from the mainland port of Ailt an Chorrain (Burtonport) passes between a cluster of smaller islands on its swift, twenty-minute crossing.
Some 600 people are resident on the island, though the population rises to 1,500 in the summer as migrant workers return and tourist visit. Most of the islanders are native Irish speakers. The Irish language is very important to the people of Arainn Mhor and most inhabitants are fluent speakers.
Places of Interest:
The Glen Hotel (historic pub)
The Lighthouse at Rinawros Point (rock arches and seacaves can be seen nearby)
Arainn Mhor & Beaver Island Memorial
Lough an Chomnaigh (Cowan's Lake) (the lake serves as the islands reservoir and is one of the few lakes in Europe where rainbow trout breed naturally
Cnoc an Lolair ('hill of the eagle') (750ft) is the islands highest point. White tailed Sea Eagles bred here in the past.
Cliffs up to 120 metres high all along the west and north coast of the isalnd.
Visit three of the islands beaches at Leadhb Gharbh (ferry pier) and at Athport and Traigh an Chaisil on the south coast.
Walking, Cyclling, camping, birdwatching, boating, deep-sea-angling, lake-angling, diving, rockclimbing
there are six pubs on the island, they all have music in the summer and turf fires
Smugglers niteclub: discos at weekend and durign the summer
Narin Beach is a 3 mile stretch of fine white sand, the beach has blue-flag status again this year and is safe for swimming.
At the end of the 3 mile stretch you come to some black rocks, with rock pools.
When the tide is out you can walk over to the island of Inniskeel (see tip) on it, you will find an old graveyard and a derelict small church.
The Grianan of Aileach, built ca. 1700BC, is one of the most remarkable and important monuments ever to be erected by the ancient Irish, being the place of the Irish Kings from the earliest age of history down to the start of the 12th century. It was a one-time residence of the O'Neills of Ulster.
The Fort is situated in Co. Donegal, about 7 miles from Derry on the summit of a hill, 802 feet high.
There are steps on the inside leading to the top of the fort, from where there is a panoramic view of several counties.
It is one of four ancient Forts in Co. Donegal and 6 has been kept in good condition. Of the other 3 stoneforts, one is under water in Lough Annagh near Glenties (the waterlevel of the Loch was raised for watersupply. Another one is on an island in Lough Doon and can be reached by rowing boat. (tip and photo to follow)
The fourth fort was near the village of Cloughan along the road from Glenties to Ballybofey but is now derelict.
(photograph to follow)
the diamond is in the center of donegal town. pictured is an obelisk that commemorates four franciscan monks who wrote the annals of the four masters in the 1630's. this work traced the history of the gaelic people from 40 days before the great flood up to the 16th century.
locatated on quay street just past the public parking lot is the ruins of donegal abbey. it is on a small hill overlooking the river eske. built in 1474 all that remains are a few gothic windows and cloister arches. it has a beautiful cemetery with a interesting collection of irish crosses.
this historic castle dates back to the 15th century. there are several jacobean additions added by sir basil burke after the ouster of the o' donnells in 1607. burke was was responsible for laying out the diamond square which today is the center of donegal town. open to the public.
In Diamond, the center of the town, stands an obelisk erected for the memory of the Four Masters. The four franciscan monks wrote on the 17th century the book "Annala Riochta Erenann", more commonly know as Annals of the Four Masters. The book covers the history of Ireland from 2242 BC to 1616AD.
In the center of the town a triangular marketplace is flanked on each side by houses with streets radiating from each side. The streets are full of pubs and restaurants. Many pubs have live music on evenings.
Some shops worth visiting:
- Magees tailor shop
- The Craft Shop, sells crafts from all over Ireland
- Four Masters Bookshop, sells books of Irish interest, postcards, art supplies etc.
- Ward’s Music Shop, Irish music instruments
Donegal Town was the seat of the O'Donnell's, until the 17th century. They were overthrown in the midst of the collapse of the old Gaelic system in 1602.
Donegal Castle (Caisleán Dhún na nGall) on the banks of the River Eske is the most important sight in the town. It once belonged to the O'Donnel family, who built it in the 15th century. The castle was rebuilt in the 16th century in Jacobean style after Hugh O'Donnell burnt it to the ground rather than let fall into enemy hands.
Henry Sydney, an Englishman, wrote 1566: "It is the greatest I ever saw in an Irishman's hands … and so nigh a portable water a boat of ten tonnes could come within ten yards of it."
The castle stood in ruin for about 300 years until recently restored and opened for public. The castle is open daily from mid-June to October from 9.30 to 18.30.
The waterbus is well worth a visit when in donegal town. Captain Billy Bustard will entertain and education you on the beautiful donegal bay. You'll learn about the town being used as a port get fantastic photo opportunities. See their website for more info.
Just to see the seals on the sand banks and if you're luck enough to have a full tide the seals swim right up beside the boat.
Close to the water, just off the diamond in Donegal Town, sits the anchor to a French freighter. The anchor was dropped by the French, who were trying to profiteer in Donegal, but when they saw British flags on shore, they couldn't get out of the harbor fast enough-- cutting the anchor to make their escape even faster.
This is a picture of Midieval Fortress, by the name of Doe Castle. This Mac Suibhne (Sweeney clan) Castle is protected on three sides by the sea, while on the inland side a moat has been hewn from rock.
You can see by this photo (taken 18/12/00), the castle is being repaired at the moment.
The castle is open to visitors all year.
'Just read in the paper today (18/01/01) that one of the members of 'Westlife' band intends to get married here in the Summer of 2001. I hope the restorations are finished in time!!!
Lough Eske, Donegal, Ireland
Good for: Solo
Myself and two friends had a bottle of wine and a light Snack in the Gallery Bar. The service was...more
Clar Road, Donegal Town, Ireland
Good for: Business