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Welcome to Donegal

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Towns in Donegal

Donegal, the most northerly county in Ireland, often referred to as the Alaska of the Republic, bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the south-west, west and north by the counties of Derry, Tyrone, Fermanagh and Leitrim to the east and south-east. The dominant features to Donegal are the Derryveagh and Glendowan mountain ranges which lie north-east and south-west on either side of the Gweebarra Fault. A vast area more or less uninhabited, and is the domain of flora and fauna, in the heart of which lies Glenveagh National Park. A focal point in northern Donegal, the National Park is the largest in Ireland, consisting of mountain, moorland, lakes and woods. It is one of the last places in Ireland to be influenced by human activity, and it is this which gives it its unique natural heritage. The National Park is an ideal place for fishing, hill walking and observing the flora and fauna on the clearly marked trail.

It may be said that Donegal county falls into four main parts, namely, Inis Eoghain (Inishowen); The Gaeltacht; south and south-west Donegal with the Blue Stacks as the Northern barrier; and the remainder of the county from the Lagan to Fanad and Horn Head.

Enroute to Donegal town you will pass Bundoran, one of Donegal's best beach resorts, set against a stunning backdrop of mountain glens and hills. Renowned for its surfing waves, Bundoran is a great meeting place for those who are interested in catching some surf. Donegal Adventure Centre, Irelands newest outdoor adventure centre along with specialising in surfing tuition also offers a variety of other outdoor adventures, such as, hill walking, golf, horseriding, body boarding, orienteering, angling, mountain biking etc. Bundoran is also home to a great indoor water park, with some testing slides, great fun for the kids and adults alike.

Still enroute to Donegal Town, take a detour off the Ballyshannon to Donegal road for Lough Derg, a small island in the lake which is a place of penitential pilgrimage for Irish Catholics. A physically demanding pilgrimage which lasts for three full days with nothing but one meal of black tea and dry bread each day and where pilgrims are asked to go barefoot during their time on the island.

Donegal Town at the head of Donegal Bay is a thriving market town that was established as a Viking stronghold. The tourist trail which consists of a sign posted walking tour begins in the Diamond, a 1600's designed Square (what others might call a square or central area of town) and includes Donegal Castle, Churches and a Napoleonic anchor retrieved from the sea in the 1850's.

Leaving Donegal town on the way to Gleann Cholm Cille (Glencolumbkille) you pass Irelands busiest fishing port, Killybegs. A picturesque village worth a visit if only to cast your eye upon some of the worlds best and biggest fishing boats.

Interested in historic heritage ? Once you've arrived in Gleann Cholm Cille visit the early christian cross-slabs which are decorated with cross and geometric patterns and spread out over 5 km in the valley. These cross-slabs are visited by local people on the feast day of St. Columbkille on 9th June. Megalithic tombs are also found locally. Gleann Cholm Cille is renowned for its historic heritage and a good place to sample the folk traditions of the county with a folk museum displaying the folk village containing artefacts of folklife heritage.

In terms of Donegal landscape Inis Eoghain (Inishowen) peninsula should give you what you are looking for. Shaped like a large kite, with Malin Head at the top (Irelands most northerly point), Lough Foyle on the east, Lough Swilly to the west and 'joined' to the rest of the county by the city of Derry and the Grianán of Aileach, an impressive stone fort from around 1700 BC which sits on top of a commanding hill overlooking the surrounding area of Donegal and Derry. According to the Annals of the four Masters, the Grianán of Aileach was the seat of power for the Northern O'Neill kings from the Fifth to the Twelve Century and was destroyed by their enemies in AD 675. The ancient monolithic cross outside Cooley Graveyard near Moville on the Inishowen peninsula is also worth a visit, where the hole through the upper part of the shaft might have indicated the grave of a saint. Said to be Donegal's answer to the Ring of Kerry, the Inis Eoghain 100 is a one hundred mile scenic drive around the peninsula which takes in all the main areas of attraction.

Floating out into the Atlantic off the Donegal Coastline is Tory Island. An island which has two villages, called simply, the west town and east town. The west town has shops, schools, churches etc., and the east has kept the authentic Clachán type settlement remaining in Ireland. There is no strong sense of time as we know it on Tory, an island that is windswept and laid siege to frequently by the sea.

For the visitor there is much to do and see in Donegal. From the hills of Donegal which offer numerous routes for both experienced and inexperienced hikers and hill walkers to bird watching in the first landfall for the wild fowl of Greenland and Iceland as they migrate south in Autumn. There's something here for everyone. Donegal is the haven for water sports, sea and game angling, it is at once a sportsman's paradise offering almost every recreational facility imaginable.

Neighbouring Counties
Derry | Fermanagh | Leitrim | Tyrone
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