County Donegal Information
Donegal is located in the north-west of Ireland, in the province of Ulster and is bordered by Leitrim, Fermanagh, Derry and Tyrone; the fourth largest county in Ireland with a spirited people and vibrant landscape.
It is one of the most scenic, rugged counties in Ireland with large stretches of untamed coastline and sandy beaches. Donegal is home to some of the best surfing spots in Ireland and Europe with Rosnowlagh hosting both Irish National Junior Championships and Inter-County Surfing contests along with Bundoran which hosted the 2011 European Surfing Championships. A haven for anglers with many lakes and rivers along with some of the finest sea angling and scuba diving experiences. Challenges on the "Hills of Donegal" for mountain climbing and hill walking with many purpose built coastal walks, long distance walks, archeological and historical sites to explore.
Donegal is steeped in literary and music traditions and hosts many festivals, so visitors are never short of things to see and do with many accommodation options available and are rewarded with unspoilt countryside, natural beauty and lively nightlife; a place to visit to experience the impressive beauty of both it's scenary and people.
Donegal’s Top Five
Slieve League Cliffs - The highest sea cliffs in Europe and an area of breathtaking natural beauty, these Cliffs rival their more famous cousins in Clare, the Cliffs of Moher. Ranked as one of the most beautiful sights in Ireland, a perfect place to enjoy hiking and walking, and boasting great views of Mayo and Sligo on a clear day.
The Islands -There are two permanently inhabited islands off the coast of Donegal, Tory and Arranmore. Other islands include Cruit, Gola, Inishfree and Rutland Island. Arranmore is a great place to go deep-sea fishing and the views on Tory Island and its lengthy history, and Irish speaking people make it a fascinating place to visit.
Castles - Donegal Castle is located centrally in Donegal Town, and dates from the 15th Century. It is beautifully furnished, guided tours are available daily and the castle is open throughout the year (limited opening during winter months). Lough Eske Castle (now a luxurious boutique hotel) is situated on the shores of the Lough and its history stretches back as far as the 15th century. It is closely linked with the O’Donnell family and enjoys picture perfect views over the nearby Blue Stack Mountains.
Glenveagh National Park - Located in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains (their highest peak is the cone-shaped Mount Errigal), about 25 kms to the north-west of Letterkenny, Glenveagh is one of only six national parks in the country. Beautiful and remote with a castle, extensive gardens and a visitor centre the park encompasses about 16,000 hectares of rugged wilderness, mountainous terrain and sparkling lakes.The visitor centre, with its award-winning design and extensive introduction to the park, is located at the north end of the park and is open daily. Another 60 kms north of Glenveagh is Ireland’s most northerly point, Malin Head, where visitors can watch the sea crashing into Hell's Hole, a chasm in in the cliff face.
Daniel O’Donnell - Daniel is a true Donegal musical phenomenon. His distinctive blend of Irish folk and country music, aligned with a famously clean cut image, have propelled him to international stardom, selling over 10 million records. Daniel is particularly popular with the older (mainly female) generation, and he has drawn hordes of tourists to his hometown of Kincasslagh over the years, to see where he was born and now lives with his family. Daniel has worked with tourism organisations to promote the county as a tourist destination, particularly in Britain.
A Taste of Donegal’s Festivals
Bundoran hosts the highlight of the European surfing calendar, Eurosurf. The Sea Sessions, also in Bundoran combine surfing and music during a weekend in June. The lively seaside town of Killybegs hosts the Killybegs Summer Festival in August.
The Mary from Dungloe festival (similar to the Rose of Tralee festival), running since 1967, is a ten day summer celebration, which combines musical entertainment and family activities with the crowning of the perfect ‘Mary’ from a selection of girls, who travel from Ireland and around the globe to participate. The Donegal Summer Festival takes place in Donegal town in July, while the Taste of Donegal is a yearly festival running at the end of August to promote the county’s fantastic produce.
Rory Gallagher, one of Ireland’s greatest rockers, is honoured at June’s Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival, during which a host of musicians travel to Ballyshannon (his hometown) in south Donegal, to celebrate his musical legacy. Ballyshannon is also home to one of the longest running Folk & Traditional Music Festivals every August Bank Holiday. The Donegal Rally is a yearly rally, running since 1972, and is Donegal’s largest sporting event, hosting 50,000 attendees during the month of June. The Earagail Arts Festival, is a two week summer-time celebration of music, theatre and comedy.
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"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page" - Saint Augustine