Donegal Town is located at the point where the River Eske enters Donegal Bay in the Northwest of Ireland. The town is built around a picturesque tidal harbour and nestles under the shadow of the majestic Bluestack Mountain range. It is a thriving tourism town and is considered to be the perfect town from where to base your travels around the north and west of the country, while meeting the local people and exploring the wild Atlantic coastline. Donegal is well-known for it’s hospitality and for the friendly and welcoming nature of the local people. Situated on the Wild Atlantic Way tourism route, Donegal Town offers all the necessary facilities required for both the business traveler and the tourism guest.
Donegal Town was originally a plantation town, beside the diamond overlooking the River Eske are the ruins of Donegal castle, the 15thcentury seat of Power of the O’Donnell Clan. A trip on the Donegal Bay Waterbus is highly recommended and departs daily throughout the summer months.
The local Eany Fishery is a spate river system including the Eany River, the lower reaches of the Eanymore River and the lower reaches of the Eanybeg River. The fishery is noted not only for its salmon fishing but was historically one of the most famous sea trout rivers in Ireland. Sea angling is also available from a number of charter boats that provide excellent service.
Accommodation in Donegal Town
Donegal Town has several excellent hotels and numerous other accommodation providers who cater for all tastes: hotels, bed and breakfast, farmhouse accommodation, hostels, camping, caravaning and glamping. There are 5-star, 4-star and 3-star hotels in the town and all local Bed and Breakfasts are registered with one of the major tourism-standards offices.
Most sleeping accommodation is within a short walking distance of the centre of town, which is known as “The Diamond”. The majority of accommodation providers have off-street parking for vehicles. Donegal Town is loved by many for it’s easy going pace and for being known as a safe place to travel to. There is very little crime in the area and the local people take pride in making sure tourist visitors have a good time in the town.
Eating in Donegal Town
Donegal Town has a good and varied selection of restaurants to cater for all tastes. Being a western Atlantic harbour town, most of the restaurants offer an excellent selection of seafood dishes with fish coming from the nearby fishing town of Killybegs. As Donegal Bay has one of the cleanest tidal waters in Ireland, the locally caught Oysters, Mussels, Crab and Lobster are of the highest quality. There are three local butchers in Donegal Town and all the restaurants are also very proud to offer the highest quality local meats, with local beef, lamb, pork and poultry served on all menus. During the month of August the town is host to A Taste of Donegal Food Festival, which is recognised as one of the leading food festivals in Ireland. Visit the Irish Food Guide for more details of Donegal’s fantastic Wild Atlantic Way food trails.
Donegal Town Castle
Hugh O’Donnell, wealthy chief of the ancient O’Donnell clan, built the original tower of Donegal castle in 1474 as a family home in Donegal Town. The O’Donnells were one of the last of the old gaelic cheiftains to rebel against the rule of the English crown in Ireland. His son “Red Hugh” became known as the Fighting Prince of Donegal and is commemorated by a bronze staute at the head of Donegal Pier. The O’Donnells left Ireland during the Flight of the Earls in 1607 and the castle and lands of the town were granted to an English captain, Sir Basil Brooke. Brooke built the Jacobean-style manor house onto the castle keep using stone from the old ruins of the local Franciscan Abbey and his family lived there until the late 1800s. In 1898 the then owner, the Earl of Arran, donated the castle to the Office of Public Works (OPW) who have re-built much of the castle and now operate it as a tourist attraction.
History of Donegal Town
Donegal Town was once the stronghold of the ancient O’Donnell Clan and the present layout of the town was designed by Sir Basil Brooke in the early 17th century. The ruins of a Franciscan Abbey are still to be seen near the pier area and it was from here that one of the most important historical chronicles of Ireland “The Annals of the Four Masters” was written. This manuscript provides detailed accounts of historical events which took place, in Ireland, from pre-Roman times up until 1604, when the famous “Flight of the Earls” occured. This was when the majority of the old established clan-leaders in Ireland left their lands and left their country, rather than be caught by the invading English armies of that time.
Donegal Railway Heritage Centre
There are no longer any operational railways in County Donegal with the last rail service stopping in 1959. Situated only 3 mins walk from the centre of Donegal Town the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre tells the complete story of the history of narrow gauge railways of Donegal. The story is told through illustrated wall-boards and shown on a large audio-visual systems. A variety of of beautifully constructed models, some of which can be seen working, also tell the story of how railways were once a vital part of day to day life in the northwest of Ireland. The Donegal Railway Heritage Centre is located in the Old Station House, Tyrconnell St. and is open Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm.