Home to some of Irelands most beautiful beaches and stunning scenery that will take your breath away. Ireland’s ‘Forgotten County’ is a place to experience. Dominated by a rugged coastline it has come to be a key feature of the ‘Wild Atlantic Way‘ popularised by the Irish Tourism Board.
With a rich history, from the seat of the mighty O’Donnell dynasty (Clann Ó Domhnaill) and a strong sense of culture there are many historical sites to see. From the Bronze age Beltany stone circle (2100-700 BC), to the 6th century ringfort Grianán of Aileach, to the 19th Century Glenveagh Castle.
In the Donegal Gaeltacht there towns which contain some of the highest percentages of Irish speakers in Ireland. In some towns as much as 70% of the residents speak Irish on a daily basis.1
What to See
Glenveagh National Park
Glenveagh National Park is a stunning natural reserve located in the heart of Donegal. Spread across 14,000 hectares of rugged mountains, pristine lakes, and lush forests, it offers breathtaking scenery and a wealth of outdoor activities for visitors. The park is home to an array of flora and fauna, including red deer, golden eagles, and a variety of plant species. The centerpiece of the park is the 19th-century Glenveagh Castle, which sits on the shore of Lough Veagh and is surrounded by stunning gardens.
Glenveagh Castle is a historic 19th-century castle located within Glenveagh National Park in Donegal. Surrounded by stunning gardens and perched on the shore of Lough Veagh, the castle offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. The castle itself is a magnificent example of Victorian architecture, complete with turrets, towers, and ornate interiors. Visitors can take a guided tour of the castle to learn about its rich history and admire its grandeur. The castle is surrounded by well-manicured gardens, including the formal Italian Garden and the Rock Garden, which are home to an array of colorful flowers, shrubs, and trees.
Errigal is the highest mountain in County Donegal, and a popular tourist destination for those seeking outdoor adventure. Located near the town of Dunlewey, Errigal offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including the Glenveagh National Park. Hiking to the summit of Errigal is a popular activity, and the mountain’s distinctive cone-shaped peak is a recognizable landmark in the area. The hike itself is challenging, but the reward is a breathtaking vista of the wild and rugged landscapes of Donegal.
Donegal Castle is a historic castle located in Donegal Town. Built in the 15th century, the castle has been home to many important figures in Ireland’s history and has played a significant role in the country’s cultural heritage. The castle was largely destroyed in 1607 but was partially restored in the 1960s, allowing visitors to explore its rich history and admire its architectural beauty. The castle features well-preserved towers, walls, and an impressive gatehouse, as well as a small museum showcasing artifacts from its past.
Donegal Railway Heritage Centre
The Donegal Railway Heritage Centre is a museum located in Donegal Town. The museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the local railway system and showcasing its cultural significance to the region. The center features exhibits showcasing the history of railway transportation in Donegal, including original locomotives, carriages, and artifacts from the past. Visitors can also take a tour of the museum’s restored railway station, which has been beautifully preserved and provides a fascinating look into the past.
Lough Eske is a serene and picturesque lake. The lake is surrounded by rolling hills, lush forests, and the stunning Blue Stack Mountains, offering a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscapes. Lough Eske is a popular spot for outdoor activities, including fishing, boating, and hiking.
Abbey of Donegal
The Abbey of Donegal is a historic abbey located in Donegal Town. The abbey was founded in the 14th century and has played a significant role in the town’s cultural and religious heritage. The abbey is renowned for its well-preserved Gothic architecture and its beautiful stained glass windows, which offer a glimpse into its rich history. Visitors can explore the abbey’s tranquil grounds and admire its impressive architecture, including its arches, columns, and intricate carvings.
Slieve League Cliffs
One of the highest sea-facing cliffs in Europe (almost three times higher than the Cliffs of Moher). Depending on the weather, from here there is an incredible view point into Donegal Bay and the Sligo Mountains. It has been a site of Christian Pilgrimage since Christianity came to Ireland, and there are stories of monks travelling from here to Iceland.
Maghera Beach and Caves
Maghera beach is beautiful: soft white sand and turquoise sea. The beach is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, including its long stretch of golden sand and its rugged cliffs. The cliffs are home to a series of caves, which can be explored by visitors. The caves are filled with crystal-clear pools and fascinating rock formations, offering a truly unique and awe-inspiring experience.
Other Places of Interest:
The River Bank Walk, Donegal Town
Doagh Famine Village
- ‘There is no need for me to ever speak English at home’: The town with the highest percentage of Irish speakers https://www.thejournal.ie/town-with-highest-percentage-of-irish-speakers-5719111-Apr2022/