Behold the Superb Attractions of the County of Donegal

Updated On: November 23, 2023

Bundoran, Donegal- Ireland Travel Blog Guide

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 Lough Eske.

Besides, the Croaghgorm, 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 from the 15th to the early 17th century. 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

Belfast Street Art: A Tour Around the Cathedral Quarter (and Beyond)
Behold the Superb Attractions of the County of Donegal 1

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.

They became involved with Ireland since they were part of the disapproval of the English colonisation 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 was laid 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, 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-style 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.

There are also several graves that prove the existence of the Great Famine in Donegal at some point. A workhouse stands as testament to that period that lasted from 1845 until 1852. The workhouse includes many graves that embrace bodies of those who fell victims to the famine at that time. 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, nothing is left of that except a small part called the Franciscan abbey and It sits on the Southern shore of the River Eske Bay. Donegal castle is also another building that still exists on the banks of the River Eske.

Saint Patrick

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 and introduced 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.

Saint Patrick was the reason why a big part of society converted to Christianity. He managed to wipe off a lot of practices of the Celtic religion and Polytheism, replacing them with Christianity.

How Did Patrick Arrive in Ireland?

The story goes 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.

When Patrick became a priest he decided to go back to Ireland. He returned to the same place from where he had once escaped. He probably chose Ireland because 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 is not clear where he worked, though.

Patrick then became an official saint in Ireland and helped many people convert to Christianity. Conall Gulban was the very first person to convert to Christianity because of Saint Patrick. His family’s 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 hurry up and check them out!

Arranmore Island

Arranmore Island is one of the top tourist attractions. With a population of only 500 people, the island is so small that you can tour all of its corners in around three hours. It features 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.

Fishing is among the most performed activities on Arranmore Island. You can also pay a visit to a bird sanctuary there—that’s something to see for birdwatchers!

Carrickfinn Beach

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 enjoy the bright sand dunes. You will need to check the tidal phases that are announced 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 in the north of Donegal.

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.

Donegal Castle

Donegal Castle is one of the most significant buildings in this Irish county. It dates back to the 15th century and still exists to our present day. The castle oversees the banks of the River Eske. Red Hugh O’Donnell was the one who built it, before Sir Basil Brooke made improvements to the building two centuries later.

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

Dunree Bay is one of the top Irish attractions that sits on the Inishowen Peninsula. This Bay is close to the military museum of Fort Dunree. People go there to enjoy the scenery while sailing along the bay. The beach is quiet and suitable for relaxation. It is the best place to forget about your responsibilities and enjoy the tranquility it provides. Give yourself the opportunity to relax under the warming sun; you certainly deserve it!

Belfast Street Art: A Tour Around the Cathedral Quarter (and Beyond)
Beautiful Dunree Head in Ireland 

Glenevin Waterfall

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 on 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 one of those six national parks. It sits in the northwest of Donegal. That park embraces a wide range of plants and wildlife. 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 enjoy the wilderness.

The Inishowen Peninsula

The Inishowen Peninsula is one of Ireland’s treasures, with its massive area and a great variety of splendid scenery 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, including the ancient fort, Grianan of Aileach. In the past times, that fort was the base for the clan of O’Neill. That fort has been around since 1700 BC.

Belfast Street Art: A Tour Around the Cathedral Quarter (and Beyond)
Greencastle, Inishowen

Some of the famous Inishowen towns are Buncrana, Muff, and Moville. Greencastle is a fishing port that is worth visiting in the northeast of the Inishowen Peninsula.

Grianan of Aileach

A hillfort, Grianan of Aileach stands on the beautiful 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.

Belfast Street Art: A Tour Around the Cathedral Quarter (and Beyond)
Grianan Of Aileach-Ring Fort-County Donegal

The site is very historic, most probably dating back to 5th century. The Grianan of Aileach was an important area for the Kings of Ailech. It is also believed that St. Patrick visited the site and baptised local people there.

Lough Derg

In the Irish language, Lough means lake. Lough Derg is one of many lakes in Donegal. It located 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 the purgatory of Saint Patrick and 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 and people stay there for three days at most.

Malin Head:

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.

Mount Errigal:

Mount Errigal is one of Ireland’s marvellous mountains that you can find near Gweedore, in Donegal. In fact, Mount Errigal is one of the Derryveagh Mountains. It is also recognised as 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/Portnoo Beach

Getting into a new country makes it tempting to get to the nearest beach and enjoy the scenery. One of Donegal’s finest beaches is the Narin/Portnoo.  People actually consider it one of Ireland’s pure gems, such a magical sand dune system.

Portsalon Beach

Portsalon is another terrific sandy beach in Donegal. It is located on the western side of Lough Swilly and towards the Atlantic Ocean. 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 will be an unforgettable experience.

Tory Island

Tory Island is a magical place that had played a significant role in the history of Donegal. It is one of the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) areas of the county. 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, whose role is to greet people who visit the island and welcome all of them. You will feel the warmth and friendliness of the people there. Visitors to Tory Island enjoy the community’s exciting culture and traditional music.

Worth-Reads About Ireland:

The Beauty of County Kildare| The Astounding Scenery of Country Kerry| Dublin City: The World’s Natural Wonders in One City| Famous Irish Authors Who Helped Promote Irish Tourism| The Globally Celebrated St. Patricks Day Construed|

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