Donegal Castle, Ireland
Wild and rugged, Donegal is a half-forgotten county in northwestern Ireland, cut of geopolitically from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Its capital is Donegal town, which is home to Donegal Castle. The castle was built by the infamous Red Hugh O’Donnell in 1454, possibly on the site of an old fort, though no evidence remains. At this time, Ireland was divided into fluid regions, each ruled by a clan and led by a local chieftain. Because of the region’s remoteness as well as its poor agricultural terrain, Donegal and the the rest of the surrounding region of Ulster were the last to be conquered by the English. Red Hugh’s impressive fortress, stronghold of the O’Donnell clan, started life as a tower house, the most common Irish medieval fortification. In an attempt to get the chieftain’s under English control, the clan leaders where given the title of Earl. Not content and craving freedom, the Earls rebelled. The uprising was a failure, leading to the Flight of the Earls in 1607 and the total control of Ireland by the English crown. As was the custom, the English seized the castle from Irish ownership, and passed it on to a loyal Englishman as a reward for service – in this case, a fellow called Brookes, who later sold it to the wealthy Sligo-based family, the Gores. Brooke added the Jacobean manor-house to the left of the towerhouse, transforming it from military might to countryside estate. Sadly under the Gore family, Donegal Castle fell into ruin (likely to avoid paying taxes on it), and there it sat in quiet abandon until the 1990s, when the Irish government restored it. Today, it is one of Donegal’s most important parts of cultural heritage.
Pro tip: Donegal is well-known for tweed. Check out any number of tweed shops in town, or head over to Magees of Donegal for bespoke tweed garments. If you’re looking for a cosy tearoom and lovely pastries or light meals, try the Blueberry Tearooms in the town centre.
Nearby in Donegal & Northwest Ireland
- Slieve League Cliffs (Donegal)
- Glenveagh (Donegal)
- Knocknarea Hill (Sligo)
- Moygara Castle (Sligo)
- Horn Head (Donegal)
- Pollenagollum Cave (Northern Ireland)
- Enniskillen Castle (Northern Ireland)
*Please note that all photos posted since the start of the Pandemic travel restrictions are from the archives, or taken locally within a short distance of our home.