The world is full of interesting places to visit. Ireland is one of the places that are worth mentioning. Like many cities in Ireland, Donegal is full of beautiful sceneries and fascinating attractions. Two water passages happen to surround the city; Donegal Bay and River Eske.
Besides, the Croagh, or the Blue Stack Mountains, are in sight while you are in the city. The county has an amazing history as well. In the past, there was a Gaelic kingdom called Tyrconnell. Donegal happened to be the capital of this kingdom. Besides, the O’Donnell dynasty was the ruler of the county. The Diamond is a pivot where people gather for social events and enjoy their time. It sits in the centre of the city and is among the lively places around. However, there is so much more to this city that you will need to know.
The History of Donegal
Most of the cities around the world developed through the foreign settlements that took place around. This is the case with Donegal and there is evidence to support the presence of settlements during prehistoric times. Many sources confirmed that there was archaeological evidence for settlements around Donegal like the remaining defensive earthworks and ringforts.
The government of the O’Donnell dynasty used to take Donegal as its capital. They were the Gaelic royal family that ruled other countries for a very long time. O’Donnell dynasty actually played a significant part in shaping the history of Ireland. However, their origins did not go back to Ireland; they came from Kilmacrennan.
They became involved with Ireland since they were part of the disapproval of the English colonization of Ireland. O’Donnell royal family remained against the English occupation for centuries; generations after generations from the 15th to the 17th centuries.
Captain Basil Brooke
There is a barrier known as the Siege of Donegal that took place in 1601; during the Nine Years’ War. In 1607, the English Crown managed to take over the castle and the lands surrounding it. Those properties were gifted to Captain Basil Brooke. Captain Basil Brooke an Englishman that descended from Viscounts Brookeborough.
Later, he became a Sir instead of a Captain and took over the Donegal castle in 1611. Sir Brooke had actually performed more than a few reconstruction efforts to the castle. He added a Jacobean-styled wing to it and made some adjustments to its physical appearance.
The Diamond is now one of the most popular social gathering hubs. Brooke happened to be the one who established it. In fact, the final outline of Donegal he made was the same as it looks nowadays.
Donegal of the Modern Times
Right now, the town looks pretty similar to how it did during the 15th century. There are also more than a few buildings that prove the existence of the Great Famine at some point. That evidence was archaeological and they include a workhouse and lots of famine graves. The graves, certainly, embrace the bodies that fell victims to the famine at that time.
Besides, the workhouse is currently part of a local hospital. There was what the Irish called the Donegal Abbey; it existed in the 15th century. However, they are all gone now and all that is left is the Franciscan Abbey. It sits on the Southern shore of the River Eske Bay. Donegal castle is also another building that exists on the banks of the River Eske.
Saint Patrick has always been a prominent character in Irish history as well as mythology. He was one of the significantly dominant saints who got to Ireland during the arrival of Christianity. Patrick had lived in Ireland nearly during the second half of the 5th century. People regard him as the very first saint in many counties around Ireland. Besides, many people see him as the one who actually brought Christianity to Ireland.
In fact, he arrived in Ireland the same duration as which Christianity did, so it is easy to believe so. Over and beyond, he was the reason behind converting a huge number of the society into Christians. He managed to wipe off a lot of practices of the Celtic religion, Polytheism, and replace them with Christian ones. However, some sources still claim that Christianity arrived in Ireland sometime before Patrick did.
How Did Patrick Arrive in Ireland?
There are always different stories regarding how Patrick arrived in Ireland. However, one story is what everyone seemed to agree upon. The story states that when Patrick was 16 years old, Irish pirates kidnapped him from Britain, his home. They took him to Ireland as a slave and made him take care of their animals. Six years later, Patrick managed to escape and he went back to his family in Britain.
Patrick became a priest; it was when he decided to go back to Ireland once again. He returned to the same place from which he had once escaped. Probably, he headed to that same place as he was familiar with most of the country’s traditions and places. After all, he spent six years of his life in Ireland. There, he worked as a bishop; it was not clear where he worked, though.
In the seventh century, Patrick became an official saint in Ireland and he helped people convert to Christianity. Clan Connaill was the very first person to convert to Christianity because of Saint Patrick. Their conversion added to the credibility of Saint Patrick and his efforts; especially as they were in a leadership role.
Places of Interest in Donegal
Visiting Ireland is always fun, for there will always be new places to explore and an interesting history to learn. We gathered all the possible places you can head to while in Donegal to help make your journey easier. They are plenty, so HURRAY! Check them out.
Arranmore Island is one of the top tourist attractions. Yet, it is also a residential area with a population of only around eight hundred people. Most of the residents stay in either the south or the eastern parts of the island. The population is too low that you feel like people had recently moved here. But, in fact, the island had residents ever since prehistoric times. The island is actually small as well; you can roam the whole thing in around three hours.
On the other hand, there are lots of stunning cliffs that give you a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean. You can also watch the eye-pleasing sandy beaches from there. The most performed activity there is fishing; besides, there is also a bird sanctuary around.
Carrickfinn Blue Flag Beach is a magnificent beach in Donegal. People usually refer to it as Carrickfinn Beach, for it is easier and shorter that way. The beach lies on the western coast of the county and it is very close to Annagry. There, you will witness bright sand dunes; it also goes through tidal phases many times throughout the day.
Doagh Famine Village
Donegal had faced a period of great hunger at some point in history. So, there must have been traces left behind to tell the story of that crisis. There is a village that people call the Doagh Famine Village. This village has been around since the time of the famine; it survived to tell the story. The village is part of the Inishowen peninsula; it exists in the corner of it.
There are many buildings in that village that made it to the present day, telling the stories of the deceased victims. Those buildings are the Presbyterian Meeting House, a Republican Safe House, Hedge School, the Orange Hall, and Mass Rock.
Castles are very prominent in Ireland. Donegal Castle is one of the most significant buildings in the county. It dates back to the fifteenth century and still exists to our present day. The castle oversees the banks of the River Eske. O’Donnell chieftain was the one who built it, but Sir Basil Brooke was the one enhancing the building two centuries later. He made a lot of additions in the seventeenth century.
The castle had survived a lot of wearing factors; it actually stood in ruins for a very long time. However, the damages are no longer there, for restoration has taken place and it’s much better than it ever was. The castle belonged to its builder and his family, the clan of O’Donnell. That clan was among the ruling families of Gaelic Ireland.
Dunree Bay is one of the Irish top tourist attractions that sits in Inishowen. More precisely, the site is found in Buncrana, which sits in Inishowen. This Bay is also close to the military museum of Dunree Fort. People go there to enjoy the scenery while walking along the bay; the beach is quiet and suitable for relaxation. It is the best place in which you can forget about your responsibilities and enjoy the tranquillity it provides. Give yourself the opportunity to relax under the warming sun; you certainly deserve it.
No need to say a lot about this fact; waterfalls look terrific. Even the sound of the waters crashing into the stones is very satisfying. If you want to watch one of those world’s wonders, head to Clonmany. There is an amazing waterfall, Glenevin Waterfall, that sits in a natural landscape. To reach there, you might need to walk around two kilometres in the woods.
Glenveagh National Park
In Ireland, there are six different national parks and they are all equally magnificent. Glenveagh is actually of those six national parks. It sits in the Northwest of Donegal. That park embraces a wide range of plants and animals. Formerly, it was a private forest for deer when the government started to make use of those lands. However, in 1975, they changed it into a national park where people can visit and enjoy the wilderness. It turned into a national park in 1975 but was not open to the public until eleven years later.
Wanna hear a secret? We all always do, right? Well, this may not be a massive secret, but people believe that The Inishowen peninsula is one of Ireland’s treasures. In the past, Eoghan was the son of the High King of Ireland, Niall. The latter made his own son the lord of the island, the peninsula. In fact, the island was named after him, Eoghan. Sources claim that the island was the place in which Saint Patrick baptized Eoghan. That event took place in the fifth century.
It contains a massive area with a great variety of splendid scenery of vast and terrific landscapes. That Peninsula happens to give you the opportunity to observe the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean. Over and beyond, the sight of the ocean is blended with magnificent cliff tops and shining sandy beaches. The island has lots of attractions, among them is Grianan of Aileach; an ancient fort. In the past times, that fort was the base for the clan of O’Neill. That fort has been around since 1700 BC.
The island itself is a tourist attraction; however, it still has many attractions within. It actually contains more than a few towns around; each of them had its own characteristics. Those towns include Buncrana, Muff, and Moville. You can also find the Greencastle, a Napoleonic fort and the Carndonagh home.
Grianan of Aileach
As mentioned above you’ll find the famous attraction of Grianan of Aileach (a stone fort) that sits on the beautiful hilltop of Greenan Mountain in Inishowen. It offers impressive panoramic views across Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle as well as the stunning countryside of the Inishowen Peninsula.
The site is very historic, it is believed that it dates back to the sixth century. The Grianan of Aileach was an important area for the Kings of Ailech that belonged to a well-known Irish dynasties ‘Northern Ui Neill’. It is also believed that St. Patrick visited the site and baptised local people there.
In the Irish language, Lough means lake. There are plenty of them there. Lough Derg is one of the significant lakes in Donegal. It sits on the west side of Donegal Town. Station Island is a small island that you find there. You will realize that people have a story to tell regarding that lake. They believe that it was where Saint Patrick stayed; they also state that he used to fast while staying there. During medieval times, this lake was actually a place where people perform pilgrimage. Until today, some people still travel there for the sake of the pilgrimage. This usually takes place during summer when people stay there for three days at most.
This is the exact northern point of the island of Ireland. Just like most of the places in Ireland, Malin Head consists of many spectacular sceneries. You will always find something that is worth staring at. Everyone who had ever been to Ireland definitely went to visit Malin Head. It is not a destination to miss.
Mountains are among the splendours of the universe. They stand still yet managed to capture our hearts with their heart-melting sights. Mount Errigal is one of Ireland’s marvellous mountains that you can find near Gweedore, in Donegal certainly. In fact, Mount Errigal is one of the Derryveagh Mountains. It is also deemed to be the highest point in the whole county. Locals of the county refer to those mountains as the Seven Sisters. They are all tall and look brilliant; however, Errigal is the tallest peak of all of them.
Narin and Protnoo Beach
Getting into a new country makes it tempting to get to the nearest beach and enjoy the scenery. Ireland happens to have more than a few beaches. One of its finest beaches is the Narin and Protnoo beach. People actually consider it one of Ireland’s pure gems. It has peninsulas, hills, and beautiful sand.
Portsalon is another terrific sandy beach in Donegal. It is located on the shores of Lough Swilly and towards the Atlantic Ocean. The area in which you visit to see that beautiful beach is called the Natural Heritage Area. This beach is definitely one of the best spots in Donegal that you should not miss.
The Slieve League Cliffs
One of the topmost fascinating cliffs around the world is the Slieve League Cliffs. They are one of the finest tourist attractions in Donegal. Visitors enjoy climbing those cliffs, for the view from up there is quite splendid. Definitely, they should be on the list of your want-to-go destinations; it is an unforgettable experience.
Islands are usually fascinating; what is actually not interesting about being surrounded by water from every corner? Tory Island is a place that people refer to as a magical island. This place had played a significant role in the history of Donegal. Those who live there are known to be among the Gaeltacht areas of the county. Gaeltacht areas are ones where the locals are quite fluent in the old Irish language. It is always a good idea to learn a thing or two about that language before heading there. That would make things easier for you while dealing with the folks there.
On this island, there is a community spokesperson. He is one who people regard as their own king and they elect him as well. The role of this person is to greet the passengers that visit the island and welcome all of them. You will feel the warmth and friendliness of the people there. They have an exciting culture and enjoy traditional music.
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