County Donegal (from the Irish, Contae Dhún na nGall), part of the province of Ulster, belongs somewhat to the north as well to the south of Ireland, although it shares much with what people have come to expect from the Ireland of the south.
Mount Errigal, the tallest peak in Donegal at 2,464 foot (nearby the beautiful Irish-speaking parish of Gweedore on the Atlantic coast of the county), elevates Ireland’s reputation for the monumental. The Slieve League Cliffs should surpass even those of the Cliffs of Moher in this regard. But, despite reaching three times higher, they stand eternally in the shadows of its famous counterpart. A terrifying peak known as One Man’s Pass is very aptly titled.
Glenveagh National Park, which at 170 square kilometres is the second largest in Ireland, extends an unending capacity for the pastoral, and the royal fort of Aileach, believed to be the seat of the ancient kingdoms of Aileach, Ulaidh and Oirialla, upholds an exquisitely preserved historical legacy. Indeed, there are so many varied aspects of the Irish landscape condensed into this one county. But don’t be fooled – as it’s true with the rest of the country, the land is vast and the points on the map are disparate. Plan your trip accordingly.
Unmissable Attractions County Donegal
1. Donegal County Museum (Opening Times: Monday-Friday from 10.00 a.m. – 4.30 p.m. Saturday from 1.00 p.m. – 4.30 p.m.)
2. Ards Forest Park (Opening Times: Monday – Sunday from 10.00 a.m. – 9.00 p.m. in summer, Monday – Sunday from 10.00 a.m. – 4.30 p.m. in winter)
3. The architecturally extraordinary Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Eunan and St Columba, can be located in the parish of Cowal and Leck in Letterkenny
4. The award-winning Malin Town, an untouched, 17th century plantation village home to the second largest stone bridge in Ireland also contains the obscure Banba’s Crown and Tower, Hell’s Hole and Wee House of Malin
5. Malin Head, located on the Inishowen Peninsula, is the most northerly point of all of Ireland, and looks out to the North Atlantic Ocean
6. The Medieval-like Crana River and arched bridge in Inishowen lead to O’Doherty’s Keep and Buncrana Castle, which are positioned adjacent to each other. Donagh’s Cross and the Bocan Stone Circle are also found in Inishowen
7. Lough Eske, a small lake in the south of the county, is surrounded on three sides (north, east and west) by the Blue Stack Mountains
8. Around Dunfanaghy village you’ll find Killahoey Beach, Marble Hill Beach, Tramore Beach, the Marble Arch and Harry’s Hole
9. Inch Island, connected to the mainland at Lough Swilly, is worth visiting for the wild array of rare birds there, its many beaches and also for the ruins of Inch Castle, which dates back to the 15th Century. Glenevin Waterfall is located a few kilometres from the village of Clonmany
10. Tory Island, rich in ancient Irish history (The Battle of Tory Island, the last of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 was fought on the water nearby). But you’ll need to rent a boat to visit it
11. Glenveagh Castle (Opening Times: Monday – Sunday from 10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.) Prices: Adults €5.00 / Group and senior citizens €3.00 / Children and Students €2.00 / Family rate €10.00. Glebe House and Gallery (Opening Times: Monday – Sunday from 11.00 a.m. – 6.30 p.m.) Prices: Adults €3.00 / Senior citizens and group €2.00 / Children and students €1.00 / Family €8.00 / Gallery – Free of charge
12. Ardara Heritage Centre (Opening Times: Monday – Friday from 9.00 a.m. – 8.00 a.m. / Closed in January) Prices: Adults €2.54, Senior citizens and students €1.27 / Children (under 14) €0.63
13. Mount Errigal