Donegal Town

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This article is about the Irish town of Donegal. For the county, see County Donegal. For other uses, see Donegal (disambiguation).
Dún na nGall

Donegal Town

Coat of arms
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 54°39′00″N 8°07′01″W / 54.650°N 8.117°W / 54.650; -8.117Coordinates: 54°39′00″N 8°07′01″W / 54.650°N 8.117°W / 54.650; -8.117
Country Ireland
Province Ulster
County County Donegal
Dáil Éireann Donegal South–West
Elevation 32 m (105 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Urban 2,607
Irish Grid Reference G924789
Dialing code +353 74

Donegal or Donegal Town (/ˈdʌnɨɡɔːl/ or /ˌdʌnɨˈɡɔːl/; DUN-ə-GAWL; Irish: Dún na nGall, meaning "fort of the foreigners," is a town in County Donegal, Ireland. The name was historically written in English as Dunnagall or Dunagall.

Donegal gave its name to County Donegal, although Lifford is now the county town. Until the early 1600s, Donegal was the 'capital' of Tír Chonaill, a Gaelic kingdom controlled by the O'Donnell Clan of the Cenél Conaill. Donegal sits at the mouth of the River Eske and Donegal Bay, which is overshadowed by the Bluestack Mountains ('the Croaghs'). The town is bypassed by the N15 and N56 roads. The centre of the town, known as The Diamond, is a hub for music, poetic and cultural gatherings in the area.


Donegal Abbey.
Approaching Donegal Town by sea

There is archaeological evidence for settlements around the town dating to prehistoric times including the remains of round forts and other defensive earthworks.

St. Patrick was captured by raiders from the clans governed by Niall of the Nine Hostages, and this region is that to which Patrick returned, being familiar with the people, language, customs and lands.[citation needed] The first clan to convert to Christianity as the result of St Patrick's efforts was Clan Connaill (also known at one time as Clan Dálaigh: in English, this is pronounced Daley and it translates as "one in a leadership role"). Connall was a son of Niall of the Nine Hostages. As a result of their acceptance of Christianity, Patrick blessed the clan members; the sign of the cross appeared on the chieftain's shield and this became not only the heraldic device for the clan but also for County Donegal.

Donegal Town itself is famous for being the former centre of government of the O'Donnell Clan, the great Gaelic royal family who ruled Tír Chonaill in west Ulster for centuries and who played a pivotal rôle in Irish history. Their original homeland lay further to the north in the area of Kilmacrenan. From the 15th to the 17th century, they were an important part of the opposition to the colonisation of Ireland by England. The town itself contains Donegal Castle, on the banks of the River Eske, and the remains of a Franciscan abbey which dates back to the 15th century on the Southern shore of the Bay. The Annals of the Four Masters may have been partially written in the old abbey in the 1630s. The story of Aodh Rua Ó Domhnaill (Red Hugh O'Donnell, also known as Red Hugh II), Lord of Tyrconnell, was the inspiration behind many books and films, not least, Disney's The Fighting Prince of Donegal.

After the Flight of the Earls from near Rathmullan in September 1607, the castle and its lands were seized by the English Crown and given to an Englishman, Captain Basil Brooke, as part of the Plantation of Ulster. Brooke was granted the castle around 1611 and he proceeded to carry out major reconstruction work and added a wing to the castle in the Jacobean style. The current plan of the town was also laid out by Brooke, including an attractive town square known as The Diamond. From the late 17th until the early 20th centuries, Donegal Town formed part of the vast estates of the Gore family (from 1762 Earls of Arran in the Peerage of Ireland) and it was during their ownership that the town took on its present appearance.[citation needed]Donegal Borough returned two members to the Irish House of Commons, the lower house of the Parliament of Ireland, until the Act of Union came into force in January 1801. Evidence of the Irish Famine still exists including a workhouse, whose buildings are now part of the local hospital, and many famine graves.

Industry and tourism

There are many sandy beaches in the area of Donegal, such as Murvagh beach, and some boasting good surfing conditions, such as Rossnowlagh. Donegal is also used as a base for hill-walking in the nearby Bluestack Mountains. Despite the town's many hotels catering for visitors, it suffers from a lack of social amenities for its local population. Many have to travel to nearby towns such as Letterkenny for facilities like public swimming pools, cinemas and large shopping centres.

Traditionally the largest employer in the town has been Magee of Donegal, who are manufacturers of tweed garments, some of which could, in the past, be seen being woven by hand on small looms in the company's department store.[citation needed] Like most clothing manufacturers in Ireland, the size of the workforce has been in decline for many years. Donegal also has a long tradition of weaving carpets. Donegal Carpets have been made in Killybegs for over one hundred years and have been found in Áras an Uachtaráin, the University of Notre Dame and the White House.


The Abbey Hotel in the Diamond

The Bus Éireann service number 64 Derry/Galway route: this makes several other stops including Letterkenny and Sligo (which allows for rail connections by Iarnród Éireann, from MacDiarmada Station in Sligo to Dublin Connolly. This route also allows for rail connections from Londonderry railway station to Belfast, via Coleraine). The number 30 Donegal Town/Dublin route which makes stops at other key towns such as Enniskillen (which provides connections to Belfast via Ulsterbus). Two private companies operate the other routes: 'McGeehan Bus' operates a regular service, from Glencolumbcille and Dungloe in West Donegal to Dublin Airport and Busaras in Dublin, which passes through the town; while Feda O'Donnell Coaches (also known as Bus Feda) operates a regular Glenties/Galway service that stops in Donegal.

Donegal Town Railway Station opened on 16 September 1889 and finally closed on 1 January 1960. The site of the old station is now used by CIÉ as a bus depot while the actual building is the home of the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre.


Donegal town is home to many amateur sports clubs. The most popular sport in the area is Gaelic football and the local GAA club is Four Masters. The club also has been developing hurling. Other popular sports include soccer, rugby union, basketball and athletics.

Donegal Town was host to the final stage of the World Rally Championship on 1 February 2009 and was viewed by 68 million people worldwide.


The town is home to the regional newspapers Donegal Democrat and Donegal Post and the local Donegal Times newspaper. The Northwest Express regional newspaper is also distributed throughout the town and surrounding county, as is The Derry Journal. Ocean FM, an independent local radio station from Collooney in County Sligo, has one of its three studios in the town, which broadcasts to most of south County Donegal. Highland Radio, which is based in Letterkenny, can also be received in the town.

Donegal Town was host to the final stage of the World Rally Championship on 1 February 2009 and viewed by 68 million people worldwide.

Notable people

Donegal town centre at night


Climate in this area has mild dfferences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year round. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfb" (Marine West Coast Climate/Oceanic climate).

Climate data for Donegal
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8
Average low °C (°F) 3
Precipitation mm (inches) 114
Avg. precipitation days 19 13 16 12 12 13 13 15 16 18 18 18 183
Source: Weatherbase

See also


  1. Donegal Town website
  2. Letterkenny Information- Letterkenny Reunion, Earagail Arts festival, Donegal rally, St Patricks Day. (18 August 2008). Retrieved on 23 July 2013.
  3. Bue Éireann homepage
  6. McGeehan Bus homepage
  7. Bus Feda homepage
  8. "Donegal station" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Retrieved 23 September 2007. 
  9. County Donegal Railway Restoration Ltd. homepage
  10. Four Master's GAA Club
  11. The Donegal Times On-line
  12. Climate Summary for Donegal
  13. "". Weatherbase. 2013.  Retrieved on 12 July 2013.

Further reading

  • Aldwell, B. 2003. A survey of local resident butterflies in County Donegal. Bull. Ir. biogeog. Soc. No. 27. 202–226.

External links

  • Official town website
  • Donegal Public Art

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