Contae Dhún na nGall
|Motto: Mutuam habeatis caritatem (Latin)
"(Maintain among you) Mutual love or charity"
|Dáil Éireann:||Donegal North East, Donegal South West|
|Area:||4,841 km2 (1,869 sq mi)|
County Donegal (pronounced /ˈdɒnɨɡɔːl, ˌdɒnɨˈɡɔːl/ – Irish: Contae Dhún na nGall) is one of the traditional counties of Ireland. It is located within the Province of Ulster and is part of the Republic of Ireland. It was named after the town of Donegal (Irish: Dún na nGall). In terms of size and area, it is the largest county in Ulster and the fourth largest in all of Ireland.
Throughout its history, it has sometimes been referred to as County Tirconaill, County Tirconnell or County Tyrconnell. The former was used as its official name during 1922–1927. This is in reference to both the old túath of Tír Chonaill and the earldom that succeeded it.
Uniquely, County Donegal shares a border with only one other county in the Republic of Ireland, County Leitrim. The majority of its land border is shared with Northern Ireland (the counties of Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh). This apparent economic isolation has led to Donegal people maintaining a distinct cultural identity and has been used to market the county with the slogan Up here it's different. Much of the county is seen as being a bastion of Gaelic culture and the Irish language holding the second-largest Gaeltacht area in the country with a population of 24,504. Despite Lifford being the County Town, the largest town (the Principal Town) is Letterkenny.
County Donegal is famous for being the home of the once mighty Clan Dálaigh, whose most famous branch were the Clan Ó Domhnaill, better known in English as the O'Donnell Clan. Until around A.D. 1600, the O'Donnells were one of Ireland's richest and most powerful Gaelic (native Irish) ruling-families. Within the Province of Ulster only the Clan Uí Néill (known in English as the O'Neill Clan) of modern County Tyrone were more powerful. The O'Donnells were Ulster's second most powerful clan or ruling-family from the early thirteenth-century through to the start of the seventeenth-century. For several centuries the O'Donnells ruled Tír Chonaill, a Gaelic kingdom in West Ulster that covered almost all of modern County Donegal. The head of the O'Donnell family had the titles An Ó Domhnaill (meaning The O'Donnell in English) and Rí Thír Chonaill (meaning King of Tír Chonaill in English). Based at Donegal Castle in Dún na nGall (modern Donegal Town), the O'Donnell Kings of Tír Chonaill were traditionally inaugurated at Doon Rock near Kilmacrenan. O'Donnell royal or chiefly power was finally ended in what was then the newly created County Donegal in September, 1607, following the Flight of the Earls from near Rathmullan. The modern County Arms of Donegal (dating from the early 1970s) was influenced by the design of the old O'Donnell royal arms. The County Arms is the official coat-of-arms of both County Donegal and Donegal County Council.
The modern County Donegal was shired by order of the English Crown in 1585. The English authorities at Dublin Castle formed the new county by amalgamating the old Kingdom of Tír Chonaill with the old Lordship of Inishowen. However, the English authorities were unable to establish control over Tír Chonaill and Inishowen until after the Battle of Kinsale in 1602. Full control over the new County Donegal was only achieved after the Flight of the Earls in September, 1607.
County Donegal was one of the worst affected parts of Ulster during the Great Famine of the late 1840s in Ireland. Vast swathes of the county were devastated by this catastrophe, many areas becoming permanently depopulated. Vast numbers of County Donegal's people emigrated at this time, chiefly through the Port of Derry. Huge numbers of the county's people who emigrated were to settle in Glasgow in southern Scotland.
The Partition of Ireland in the early 1920s was to have a massive direct impact on County Donegal. Partition cut the county off, economically and administratively, from Derry, which had acted for centuries as the county's main port, transport hub and financial centre. Derry, together with West Tyrone, was henceforward in a new, different jurisdiction officially called Northern Ireland. Partition also meant that County Donegal was now almost entirely cut off from the rest of the jurisdiction it now found itself in, the new independent state called the Irish Free State, known since April 1949 as the Republic of Ireland. Only a few miles of the county is physically connected by land to the rest of the Republic. The existence of this 'border', cutting Donegal off from her natural hinterlands in Derry City and West Tyrone, has greatly exacerbated the economic difficulties of the county since partition. The county's economy is particularly susceptible, just like that of Derry City, to the currency fluctuations of the Euro against Sterling.
Added to all this, in the late twentieth-century, County Donegal was, by the standards of the rest of the Republic of Ireland, to be adversely affected by The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The county was to suffer several bombings and at least two assassinations. In June 1987, Constable Samuel McClean, a Donegal man who was a serving member of the R.U.C., was shot dead by the I.R.A. at his family home near Drumkeen. In May 1991, the prominent Sinn Féin politician Councillor Eddie Fullerton was assassinated by Loyalist paramilitaries at his home in Buncrana. This added further to the economic and social difficulties of the county. However, the Good Friday Agreement (G.F.A.) of April 1998 has been of great benefit to the county.
Physically, the county is by far the most rugged and mountainous in Ulster. The county consists chiefly of low mountains, with a deeply indented coastline forming natural loughs, of which both Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle are the most notable. The famous mountains or Hills of Donegal consist of two major ranges, the Derryveagh Mountains in the north and the Bluestack Mountains in the south, with Mount Errigal at 749 metres (2,457 ft) the highest peak. The Slieve League cliffs are the highest sea cliffs in Europe, while Donegal's Malin Head is the most northerly point on the island of Ireland.
The climate is temperate and dominated by the Gulf Stream, with warm, damp summers and mild wet winters. Two permanently inhabited islands, Arranmore and Tory Island lie off the coast, along with a large number of islands with only transient inhabitants. Ireland's second longest river, the Erne, enters Donegal Bay near the town of Ballyshannon. The River Erne, along with other Donegal waterways, has been dammed to produce hydroelectric power. The River Foyle separates part of County Donegal from parts of both County Londonderry and County Tyrone
An extensive rail network used to exist through out the county and was mainly operated by the County Donegal Railways Joint Committee and the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company (known as the L. & L.S.R. or the Lough Swilly Company for short). The Great Northern Railway (Ireland) L.t.d. (the G.N.R.) also ran a line from Strabane through The Laggan, a district in the east of the county, along the River Foyle into Derry. Even though the railways in Donegal are fondly remembered, the network was completely closed by 1960. Today, the closest railway station to the county is Waterside Station in the City of Derry, which is operated by Northern Ireland Railways (N.I.R.). County Donegal is served by both Donegal Airport, located at Carrickfinn in The Rosses in the west of the county, and by City of Derry Airport, located at Eglinton to the east. The nearest main international airport to the county is Belfast International Airport (popularly known as Aldergrove Airport), which is located to the east at Aldergrove, near Antrim Town, in County Antrim, around fifty-seven miles from Derry City and around seventy-five miles from Letterkenny.
County Donegal can be divided up into a number of traditional districts. In the west there is The Rosses (Irish: Na Rosa), centered on the town of Dungloe (Irish: An Clochán Liath), and Gweedore (Irish: Gaoth Dobhair). Both of these are formally Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) areas, although little or no Irish is spoken in Dungloe. In the county's north-west is Cloughaneely (Irish: Cloich Chionnaola), centered on the town of Falcarragh (Irish: An Fál Carrach), also in the Gaeltacht. Inishowen, Fanad and Rosguill are three peninsulas in the north of the county. Inishowen (centered on the town of Buncrana) is one of Ireland's largest peninsulas. In the east of the county is located the Finn Valley (centered on Ballybofey) and a district called The Laggan (this Laggan is usually spelled with two g's in order to distinguish it from the more famous Lagan Valley in the south of County Antrim. Donegal's Laggan is centered on the town of Raphoe). Both of these districts have very fertile land.
According to the 1841 Census, County Donegal had a population of 296,000 people. Due to famine and emigration the population had reduced by 41,000 by 1851 and further reduced by 18,000 by 1861. By the time of the 1951 Census the population was only 44% of what it had been in 1841. The 2006 Census undertaken by the State's Central Statistics Office had Donegal's population standing at 147,264.
The variant of the Irish language spoken in Donegal shares traits with Scottish Gaelic. The Irish spoken in the Donegal Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area) is of the Ulster dialect, while Inishowen, which became English-speaking only in the early 20th century, used the East Ulster dialect. Ulster Scots is often spoken in both the Finn Valley and The Laggan district of East Donegal. Donegal Irish has a strong influence on learnt Irish across Ulster.
Like other areas on the western seaboard of Ireland, Donegal has a distinctive fiddle tradition which is of world renown. Donegal is also well known for its songs which have, like the instrumental music, a distinctive sound. Donegal musical artists such as the bands Clannad and Altan and solo artist Enya, all from Gaoth Dobhair, have had international success with traditional or traditional flavoured music. Donegal music has also influenced people not originally from the county including folk and pop singer Paul Brady. Popular music is also common, the county's most famous rock artist being the Ballyshannon born Rory Gallagher, Kilcar based indie band The Revs also had some good success in the Irish charts. A well known fiddler from Donegal is P.V. O'Donnell, though he currently lives in Manchester, Connecticut, in the United States.
Donegal has a long literary tradition in both Irish and English. The famous Irish Navvy-turned novelist Patrick MacGill, author of many books about the experiences of Irish migrant itinerant labourers in Britain at around the turn of the 20th century, such as The Rat Pit and the autobiographical Children of the Dead End, is from the Glenties area. There is a literary summer school in Glenties named in his honour. The novelist and socialist politician Peadar O'Donnell hails from The Rosses in west Donegal. The Poet William Allingham was also from Ballyshannon.
Authors in Donegal have been creating works, like the Annals of the Four Masters, in Gaelic and Latin since the Early Middle Ages. The Irish Philosopher John Toland was born in Inishowen in 1670. He was thought of as the original freethinker by George Berkeley. Toland was also instrumental in the spread of freemasonry throughout Continental Europe. In modern Irish Donegal has produced famous, and sometimes controversial, authors such as the brothers Séamus Ó Grianna and Seosamh Mac Grianna from The Rosses and the contemporary (and controversial) Irish-language poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh from Gortahork in Cloughaneely, and where he is known to locals as Gúrú na gCnoc ("the Guru of the Hills").
Although approximately 85% of its population is Catholic, County Donegal also has a sizable Protestant minority. Most Donegal Protestants would trace their ancestors to settlers who arrived during the Plantation of Ulster in the early seventeenth-century. The Church of Ireland is the largest Protestant denomination but is closely rivalled by a large number of Presbyterians. The areas of Donegal with the highest percentage of Protestants are The Laggan area of East Donegal around Raphoe, the Finn Valley and areas around Ramelton, Milford and Dunfanaghy - where their proportion reaches up to 30-45 percent. There is also a large Protestant population between Donegal Town and Ballyshannon in the south of the county. In absolute terms, Letterkenny has the largest number of Protestants (over 1000) and is the most Presbyterian town (among those settlements with more than 3000 people) in the Republic of Ireland. Some, albeit a minority who are concentrated in the Raphoe and Donegal Town/Ballintra areas, County Donegal Protestants are members of the Orange Order, a religious and social society.
Donegal has also contributed to culture elsewhere. One Donegal native, Francis Alison, was one of the founders of the College of Philadelphia, which would later become the University of Pennsylvania. The Rev. Francis Makemie from Rathmullan founded the Presbyterian Church in America.
Third-level education within the county is provided by Letterkenny Institute of Technology (L.Y.I.T.; popularly known locally as 'the Regional'), established in the 1970s in Letterkenny. In addition, many young people from the county attend third-level institutions elsewhere in Ireland, especially in Derry and also at the University of Ulster at Coleraine (U.U.C.), the University of Ulster at Jordanstown (U.U.J.), The Queen's University of Belfast ('Queen's'), and NUI Galway. Many Donegal students also attend the Limavady Campus of the North West Regional College (popularly known as Limavady Tech) and the Omagh Campus of South West College (popularly known as Omagh Tech or Omagh College).
Donegal County Council (which has officially been in existence since 1899) has responsibility for local administration, and is headquartered at the County House in Lifford. The County Council runs alongside Town Councils in Letterkenny, Bundoran, Ballyshannon and Buncrana. Both the County Council and Town Councils have elections every five years (alongside local elections nationally, and elections to the European Parliament), the last of which took place on the 5 June 2009. Twenty nine councillors are elected using the system of Proportional Representation-Singe Transferable Vote (STV), across five electoral areas (Inishowen - 7 seats, Letterkenny - 7 seats, Donegal - 5 seats, Stranorlar - 5 seats, and Glenties - 5 seats.
For general (national) elections, the county is divided into two constituencies, Donegal South West and Donegal North East, with both having three representatives in Dáil Éireann. For elections to the European Parliament, the county is part of the North–West constituency (formerly Connacht–Ulster).
The Gaelic Athletic Association (G.A.A.) sport of Gaelic football is very popular in Donegal. Hurling is not such a big sport in the North-West of Ireland. Donegal's inter-county football team have won the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship title once (in 1992). In 2007 Donegal won only their second national title by winning the National Football League. The county senior hurling team has never managed a title. There are 16 senior G.A.A. Clubs in county Donegal, with many others playing at a lower level.
There are several Rugby Union teams in the county. These include Ulster Qualifying League Two side Letterkenny RFC, whose ground is named after Dave Gallaher, the captain of the 1905 New Zealand All Blacks touring team, who have since become known as The Originals. He was born in nearby Ramelton.
Ulster Qualifying League Three sides include Ballyshannon RFC, Donegal Town RFC and Inishowen RFC.
Finn Harps play in the League of Ireland and won promotion to the Premier Division in 2007 following a 6-3 aggregate win in the playoff final. They are now back alongside their arch-rivals Derry City F.C., with whom they contest Ireland's North-West Derby. No other Donegal teams have achieved the status of Finn Harps, but teams abound across the county.
Golf is a very popular sport within the county, including world class golf courses such as Ballyliffin (Glashedy), Ballyliffin (Old),both of whch are located in the Inishowen peninsula. Other courses to note are Murvagh (located outside Donegal Town) and Rosapenna (Sandy Hills)located near falcaragh. The Glashedy Links has been ranked 6th in a recent ranking taken by Golf Digest on the best courses in Ireland. The Old links was ranked 28th, Murvagh 36th and Sandy Hills 38th.
Cricket is also played in County Donegal. This sport is chiefly confined to the Laggan district and the Finn Valley in the east of the county. The town of Raphoe and the nearby village of St. Johnston, both in The Laggan, are the traditional strongholds of cricket within the county. The game is mainly played and followed by members of County Donegal's Protestant community.
Donegal's rugged landscape lends itself to active sports like climbing, hillwalking, surfing and kite-flying. Many people travel to Donegal for the superb golf links—long sandy beaches and extensive dune systems are a feature of the county, and many links courses have been developed.
Rock climbing is of very high quality and still under-developed in the county. There is a wealth of good quality climbs in the county, from granite rocks in the south to quartzite and dolerite in the north; from long mountain routes in the Poisoned Glen to boulder challenges of excellent quality in the west and in the Inishowen Peninsula.
Surfing on Donegal's Atlantic coast is considered to be as good as any in Ireland. The Victorian seaside resort of Bundoran, located in the very south of the county, has been 'reborn' as the centre of surfing in County Donegal. Indeed, Bundoran is now the main surfing 'resort' in Ulster.
With its sandy beaches, unspoilt boglands and friendly communities, Co. Donegal is a favoured destination for many travellers, Irish (especially Northern Irish) and foreign alike. One of the county treasures is Glenveagh National Park (formerly part of the Glenveagh Estate), as yet (February 2008) the only official national park anywhere in the Province of Ulster. The park is a 140 km² nature reserve with spectacular scenery of mountains, raised boglands, lakes and woodlands. At its heart is Glenveagh Castle, a beautiful late Victorian 'folly' that was originally built as a summer residence.
The Donegal Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking district) also attracts young people to County Donegal each year during the school summer holidays. The three week long summer Gaeltacht courses give young Irish people from other parts of the country a chance to learn the Irish language and traditional Irish cultural traditions that are still prevalent in parts of Donegal. The Donegal Gaeltacht has traditionally been a very popular destination each summer for young people from Northern Ireland.
Scuba Diving is also very popular with a club being located in Donegal Town.
• Stuck Inside of Moville, Ireland's only annual festival of Bob Dylan music takes place in Moville where bands from all over Europe and visitors from all over the world congregate to play and hear Bob Dylan music. The DylanFest takes place in the pubs, the streets of the town, on the shores of Lough Foyle and in the picturesque grounds of the hostel at Gulladuff House. This year's DylanFest on the Lough takes place from July 1 to 4.
• BeatlesFest on the Lough takes place every year when bands from all over Europe come and play in the streets and pubs of Moville. This year it will take place from August 12 to 15.
Commemorative Biographical of the Counties of Wayne and Holmes, Ohio 1889
Donegal has a number of regions, defined on traditional grounds going back hundreds of years, and often overlapping.
In recent times, the county has been seen as being divided into a number of areas both on an economic and physical basis - the north western area ( which includes The Rosses and Fanad Peninsula) is lightly populated with generally mountainous terrain, with the south of the county (around Bundoran and Ballyshannon) being densely populated and relatively flat. The east of the county, particularly around Letterkenny and the Lagan Valley, is the most densely populated area of all, and is economically significantly richer than the rest of the county.
Donegal is the English translation of "Dún na nGall", literally "Fort of the Foreigners", the county taking its official name from the town of Donegal, where this fort was located. It was also known as Tír Conaill, which translates to "Land of Conal", a more ancient name, referring to its links with the Uí Neill clan who ruled the region. Irish language speakers tend to refer to the county by its older name of Tír Chonaill.
There are very deep connections between the people of Donegal and Scotland, Glasgow in particular, due to the economic need for emigration in the past and the strong ties forged over the generations as a result.
The Donegal mainland coastline is the longest in the country at 1,134km and constitutes over 17% of the total national coastline. The main inlet is Lough Swilly which extends 30km inland from the north coast to Letterkenny.
The county consists chiefly of low mountains, with a deeply indented coastline forming natural loughs. The mountains (more famously known as the "Hills of Donegal") consist of two main ranges, the Derryveagh Mountains in the north and the Bluestack Mountains in the south. Mount Errigal, at some 750 metres, is the highest peak. The Slieve League cliffs are the highest sea cliffs in Europe and Malin Head, in the Inishowen Peninsula, is the most northernly point on the island of Ireland.
The climate is temperate and dominated by the Gulf Stream, with cool damp summers and mild wet winters. Average air temperatures are between 4°C and 6°C in winter and are between 14°C and 16°C in the summer. Temperatures in winter can be as low as minus 5°C and tmeperatures in summer can reach as high as 30°C.The average annual rainfall in Donegal is between 1,000 and 2,000mm adn rain is common even during the summer months.
Donegal natives often say that Donegal is the forgotten county of Ireland as they feel that it is cut off from the rest of the Republic of Ireland, both economically and geographically. Its proximity to Northern Ireland means that it suffered from a lack of tourist numbers during the recent troubles there and has been heavily influenced by that province's economic fortunes. Much of its border is shared with Northern Ireland, with only about 20 km of land connecting it to the Republic, on the Bundoran to Sligo road.
Thus, Donegal is not as accessible as other tourist-oriented places in the Republic of Ireland, such as County Galway or County Kerry and this means it is not as commercialised in the tourist sense. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your expectations. If you are looking to get away from over-commercialised tourism, Donegal can offer unspoilt scenery (apart from over-building of holiday homes and chalets in areas like Dunfanaghy and Downings) and cheaper prices. To combat the overdevelopment of holiday homes, Donegal county council has adapted a plan whereas only one in five houses will be developed as holiday homes in the future.
The downside of not being as commercialised as other Irish counties is that facilities and amenities are not as readily available in Donegal and travelling out-of season will restrict your options. On the other hand, if you are into fishing, walking, rock-climbing,water sports or golfing, and you are prepared to "rough it" at times in the less developed and populated areas of the county, then Donegal has a lot to offer the more adventurous visitor. Donegal's rugged landscape lends itself to active sports like climbing, hillwalking and surfing. Many people travel to Donegal for the superb golf courses - long sandy beaches and extensive dune systems are a feature of the county, and many links courses have been developed.
The pastime of rock climbing is of very high quality and still under-developed in the county. The complete Donegal climbing guidebook  is available at the Colmcille Climbers  website. There is a wealth of good quality climbs in the county from granite rocks in the south to the quartzite and dolerite-based landscape in the north. There are long mountain routes in the Poisoned Glen and boulder challenges of excellent quality in the west of the county and in the Inishowen Peninsula.
Surfing on Donegal's Atlantic coast  is considered to be as good as any in Ireland. Donegal has hotel facilities as good as any other in Ireland in its major towns, as well as top class restaurants.
As with the rest of the Republic of Ireland, Irish/Gaeilge is the official first language, and is used as such by many in the north and west of the county, unlike most of the rest of the island. Donegal is home to the largest Gaeltacht area in Ireland. However, English is spoken fluently by the entire native population.
The form of Irish spoken in the area is noticeably different to that in the rest of the country, although it is an accepted dialect, and is used on the Irish language television and radio services.
Locals refer to Donegal as part of "the South", distinguishing it from "the North" (i.e. Northern Ireland), even though it is geographically north in relation to the rest of the island. This is because it is indeed politically part of "Southern Ireland" (i.e. the Republic of Ireland), even though it only shares a few miles of its county border with "the South"!
The county is not served by any motorways. There are three primary routes into Donegal, depending on where you are travelling from. The N15 links the county with Sligo via Bundoran and Ballyshannon. The N2 from Dublin, via Monaghan, links with the N14 to Lifford and Letterkenny while the N13 links with Derry.
The road network within Donegal is notably poor, even compared to the rest of Ireland, with only the national primary and national secondary routes between major towns being of what most people expect as acceptable quality. Some of the towns are bypassed, such as Donegal Town, Ballyshannon and Bundoran. In rural areas, roads are often one lane with passing places, or barely two lane. Meeting a wider vehicle, such as a 4x4, truck or bus on these roads can lead to reversing into the nearest gateway to clear the carriageway. Cycling on these roads is best left to the fit and the courageous, as narrow roads over mountains are often the only way from one place to another.
Road signs in the Irish speaking, or Gaeltacht regions of the country are in the Irish language solely, however, even when directing to places outside the region. Due to this, place names in this article are listed bilingually, as often no obvious connection exists between the English and Irish forms. Road signage in Donegal is often extremely poor, so a recent map of the county is advisable. Distances on road signs are officially in kilometres, but a mix of old signage and poor conversions have left distances often in miles, or completely inaccurate.
Allow plenty of travel time when planning itinaries and don't underestimate the distance you need to travel. Remember that the roads are poorer and travelling will be slower than expected. A tour of the Fanad Pennisula takes at least half a day, and the Inishowen Peninsula is best experienced over a full day if you are driving. Similarly, touring the Rosses region, taking in Glenveagh National Park and Mount Errigal, will take a full day.
A private bus operator, Lough Swilly Bus , operates services daily to the Northern half of the county from Derry City and Letterkenny, albeit infrequently, with services to Malin head on Saturdays. The Dungloe route passes through Kilmacrennan, Dunfanaghy, Creeslough, Falcarragh, Gweedore and Burtonport, among others. There are also daily services to Fanad, passing through Ramelton.
Feda O'Donnell Coaches  have a twice daily service between Crolly and Letterkenny, which passes through the same route as Gallagher's. This bus continues to Galway via Ballybofey and Donegal Town.
In the Southwest of the county, McGeehan Coaches , in conjunction with Bus Eireann  have a twice daily service between Letterkenny and Glencolumbkille, stopping at Fintown, Glenties, Ardara, Killybegs and Kilcar. Another service travels between Dungloe and Donegal Town, stopping at Glenties, Ardara, Killybegs, Bruckless, Dunkineely, Frosses and Mountcharles. Feda O'Donnell  also has a weekly service between Annagry and Galway, passing through Dungloe, Glenties, Ardara, Killybegs and Donegal Town.
Bus Éireann  have regular buses between Letterkenny, Stranorlar, Ballybofey, Donegal Town, Ballyshannon, and Bundoran, which continue on to Sligo and Galway. There are also bus links between Strabane and Lifford, Letterkenny and Ballybofey, as well as local routes linking Raphoe and Convoy with Lifford and Letterkenny. There is a nightbus service at weekends between Letterkenny and Ballybofey.
Donegal, with its many quiet country backroads provides excellent opportunities for cycling. It's hilly geography and sometimes potholed roads can be a challenge. A good map  is essential, as road signs can be confusing. Bike hire is available in Letterkenny, Donegal Town and Ardara .
Pretty much the entire county is scenic, with stunning sights to be observed along the coast, and in the mountain ranges. Mount Errigal, is a quartzite-topped mountain is in the Derryveagh mountains to the north of the county, with the Bluestack mountains to the south.
The Slieve League cliffs in the county are among the highest sea cliffs in Europe. Ireland's most northerly point, at Malin Head, is in the county.
A preserved railway , with an operative original railcar open for public journeys, is located at Fintown in the centre of the county; when restoration is complete this will link to Glenties in the west of the county. In addition, a separate museum  for a separate part of Donegal's now-gone but formerly extensive narrow gauge railway network is in Donegal Town, located in the towns former station house.
An operative corn and flax mill  is preserved at Newmills, outside Letterkenny, with the county museum  being located in the towns former workhouse. Another former workhouse, at Dunfanaghy, has been partially restored as workhouse museum.
The county's two main offshore islands are both still inhabited, and both worth a visit. In addition, some of the smaller islands are worth seeing, if you have the means to get to them. Most of these are uninhabited during the winter and lack power, water, or any other means of life for anybody but temporary visitors.
Arranmore , the larger and closer inland of the two, has two hotels, 7 pubs, some watersports activities and mountain trails for hikers; and is accessible by a regular, multiple times daily car ferry service. A pre-Christian hill fort as well as ruins of a coastguard station, 1700's lighthouse and World War Two lookout post are all visible on the island. The countries only off-shore football team is based here, with a pitch built on sand dunes on the south of the island.
Tory Island , is smaller, less populous, and further offshore, and is accessible only by a passenger-only ferry; which runs multiple times daily during the summer, dropping to 5 times a week in winter. The island has a 14-bedroom hotel. Tory's history is lived out to this very day with an elected "king" who attempts to greet all tourists, and a round tower with famed "cursing stones" and Celtic cross.
Letterkenny is home to hundreds of high street shops, including branches of many international fashion boutiques. Ballybofey, in the centre of the county, also features a large contingent of shops, including a large indigenious local department store, McElhinney's.
Letterkenny also features a multiplex cinema, and a theatre, An Grianán . Nightclubs of varying size and quality are dotted throughout the counties tourist resorts, including Letterkenny, Glenties and Bundoran. Bundoran is Ireland's answer to Blackpool, and features large amusement arcades as well as a Waterpark, not to mention being a good base for surfers, beside some of the best surfing sites in Ireland.
The Ionad Cois Locha  in Dunlewey, part of the Poisoned Glen, is a tourist attraction, originally built by the countries main power company, the ESB, to employ workers it was laying off from a nearby power plant. Based around a restored two storey farm house, it features a museum of weaving equipment and weaving demonstrations; boat tours of a man-made lake caused by an ESB hydro electric power station (the station itself is an eyesore, really, on the landscape), and often hosts concerts or art exhibitions.
Golf is a major pastime for tourists in the region, with many 9 and 18 hole courses dotted around the county. Due to the lack of flat land in many areas, many of the courses are superb links courses formed by nature offering scenic views as well as world-class golf. Serious golfers should include Ballyliffen, Murvagh (outside Donegal Town) and Portsalon in their itinerary as they are three of the best courses in the county. Green fees will vary from €30 upwards, depending on the season and day of the week.
Music is an important part of the regions culture, and its tourist industry. Music tours often head to Kincasslagh, home of Daniel O'Donnell, a favourite with elderly ladies across the UK and Ireland; or to Gweedore to Leo's Tavern, run by the brother of Enya and her siblings' band, Clannad. Traditional Irish music is more prevalent in places like Glencolumcille, Ardara and Glenties, where a traditional fiddlers' festival is held every year. In addition, in recent years Letterkenny has been home to the national Fleadh Cheoil, Ireland's largest traditional music festival.
The cliffs at Slieve League  are a "must-see", but only in fair weather, and a visit to Glencolumcille could be included in this outing. Similarly, a visit to Grianan of Aileach could be included in a trip to the Inishowen Peninsula.
Weather will dictate whether one should climb Mount Errigal. Always leave details of time of departure and expected time of return with your local contacts when undertaking walking, climbing and boating activities, as bad weather can descend without warning.
Glenveagh National Park is a haven for nature lovers, with its scenic walks and climbs, together with its gardens adn castle grounds. Plan to spend at least half a day here.
Glenties is a good hillwalking base, situated at the meeting of two glens on the edge of the Bluestack Mountains.
All major towns in the area will have both restaurants and fast food outlets, with some of the latter being from the county's indigenous Four Lanterns chain. Rural areas will often have no eateries whatsoever, beyond takeaway chip shops, although many pubs offer meals, especially at lunch time. If all else fails, the supermarkets often have hot food to take away, such as roast chicken and potato wedges. Ethnic tastes are well catered for in the major towns in Donegal, with Chinese, Indian and Italian food outlets widely available. Given the seaside location and vast coastline of County Donegal, seafood is in abundance. The port of Killybegs is one of the major fishing ports of Ireland.
Every town in the county features at least one pub - usually more. In smaller towns and villages, pubs may not open until late in the afternoon. Prices are significantly lower than in Dublin, with a pint of stout usually averaging €3.70 in rural areas. Many pubs have live traditional music during the summer, and at other times such as Christmas. Prices of drink in hotel bars are usually dearer than the pubs.
Wine is becoming increasingly available in pubs, where you can order a quarter bottle of red or white, which several brand choices, at most pubs for around €4 to €5. Don't expect to get a top of the range wine unless you are in a good restaurant. The question is, do you really want to drink wine in the land of guinness...
Depending on where you are in the county, trips to Derry and Sligo are easily accomplished. Enniskillen is accessible from the south of the county. From the east of the county, a day trip to Belfast is not out of the question.
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Contae Dhún na nGall
|Dáil Éireann:||Donegal North East, Donegal South West|
County Donegal (Irish: Contae Dhún na nGall) is a county in the northwest of Ireland. It is one of three counties in the province of Ulster that does not form part of Northern Ireland. The name "Donegal" comes from the Irish, meaning "the fort of the foreigners". The county was named after the former administrative centre of Donegal Town. When first created, it was sometimes referred to as County Tyrconnel (Irish: Tír Chonaill), after the Tyrconnel earldom it succeeded. Calling the whole county Tír Conaill is technically incorrect as the Inishowen peninsula (Irish: Inis Eoghain) was historically distinct from Tír Chonaill.
Uniquely, Donegal only shares a border with one county in the Republic of Ireland, County Leitrim in north Connacht. The rest of its land border is shared with the United Kingdom (the Northern Irish counties of Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh). This apparent isolation has led to Donegal people and their customs being considered distinct from the rest of the country and has been used to market the county with the slogan Up here it's different. Despite Lifford being the county town (and there also being a Donegal town), the largest town is Letterkenny.
The county consists chiefly of low mountains, with a deeply indented coastline forming natural loughs, of which Lough Swilly is the most notable. The famous mountains or Hills of Donegal consist of two major ranges, the Derryveagh Mountains in the north and the Bluestack Mountains in the south, with Mount Errigal at 749 metres the highest peak. The Slieve League cliffs are the second highest sea cliffs in Europe, while Donegal's Malin Head is the most northerly point on the island of Ireland.
The climate is temperate and dominated by the Gulf Stream, with cool damp summers and mild wet winters. Two permanently inhabited islands, Arranmore and Tory Island lie off the coast, along with a large number of islands with only transient inhabitants. Ireland's second longest river, the Erne, enters Donegal Bay near the town of Ballyshannon. The river Erne, along with other Donegal waterways, has been dammed to produce hydroelectric power.
An extensive rail network used to exist through out the county and was operated by the County Donegal Railways Joint Committee and the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company. Even though the railways in Donegal are fondly remembered, the network was completely closed by 1960. The county is served by Donegal Airport.
The variant of the Irish language spoken in Donegal is distinctive, and shares traits with Scottish Gaelic. The Irish spoken in the Donegal Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area) is of the West Ulster dialect, while Inishowen, which became English-speaking in the early 20th century, used the East Ulster dialect. Scots is still spoken to a degree in the Laggan district of east Donegal.
Donegal Irish has a strong influence on Irish speakers across Ulster, who find themselves speaking a dialect noticeably different from the Irish most commonly spoken and understood in Dublin.
Like other areas of western Ireland, Donegal has a distinctive fiddle tradition which is of world renown. Donegal is also well known for its songs which have, like the instrumental music, a distinctive sound. Donegal musical artists such as the bands Clannad and Altan and solo artist Enya, all from Gaoth Dobhair, have had international success with traditional or traditional flavoured music. Donegal music has also influenced people not originally from the county including folk and pop singer Paul Brady. Popular music is also common, the county's most famous rock artist being the Ballyshannon born Rory Gallagher.
Authors in Donegal have been creating works, like the Annals of the Four Masters, in Gaelic and Latin since the Early Middle Ages. In modern Irish Donegal has produced famous, and sometimes controversial, authors such as the brothers Séamus Ó Grianna and Seosamh Mac Grianna from The Rosses and the contemporary Irish-language poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh from Gortahork, and where he is known to locals as Gúrú na gcnoc ("the guru of the hills").
In addition to its Gaelic culture, Donegal has also had a significant Protestant presence, being the most Protestant county in the Republic of Ireland - a community with many links and similiaries to their Northern Ireland correligionists and whose history dates to Scottish and English settlement during the 17th century plantation of Ulster.. With its complex mix of cultures, Donegal could be seen as a microcosm for the Island of Ireland as a whole.
Donegal has also contributed to culture elsewhere. One Donegal native, Francis Alison, was one of the founders of the College of Philadelphia, which would later become the University of Pennsylvania.
Donegal County Council has responsibility for local administration, running alongside Town Councils in Letterkenny, Bundoran, Ballyshannon and Buncrana. Both the County Council and Town Councils have elections every five years (alongside local elections nationally, and elections to the European Parliament), the last of which took place on the 11 June 2004. Twenty nine councillors are elected using the system of Proportional Representation, across five electoral areas (Inishowen, Letterkenny, Donegal, Stranorlar, Glenties and Milford). Donegal County Council's main offices are located in the County House in Lifford, but regional offices are located in Carndonagh, Milford, Letterkenny, Dungloe and Donegal.
For general (national) elections, the county is divided into two constituencies, Donegal South West and Donegal North East, with both having three representatives in Dáil Éireann. For elections to the European Parliament, the county is part of the Ireland North-West constituency (formerly Connacht-Ulster).
The Gaelic Athletic Association sport of Gaelic football is popular in Donegal, as is soccer — association football. Hurling is not such a big sport in the North-West of Ireland. Donegal's Gaelic football team have won the All-Ireland title once (in 1992), and in 2007 Donegal won only their second national title by winning the national football league, but the hurling team has never managed a title. There are 16 senior GAA Clubs in county Donegal.
Finn Harps play in the Football League of Ireland but are not currently (2007) in the Premier League alongside their arch-rivals Derry City. No other Donegal teams have achieved the status of Finn Harps, but football teams abound across the county.
Donegal's rugged landscape lends itself to active sports like climbing, hillwalking, surfing and kite-flying. Many people travel to Donegal for the superb golf links — long sandy beaches and extensive dune systems are a feature of the county, and many links courses have been developed.
Rock climbing is of very high quality and still under-developed in the county. The complete Donegal climbing guidebook is available at the Colmcille Climbers website. There is a wealth of good quality climbs in the county from granite rocks in the south to quartzite and dolerite in the north; from long mountain routes in the Poisoned Glen to boulder challenges of excellent quality in the west and in the Inishowen Peninsula.
Surfing on Donegal's Atlantic coast is considered to be as good as any in Ireland and up there in the world ratings.
With its sandy beaches, unspoilt boglands and friendly communities Co.Donegal is a favoured destination for many travellers, Irish and foreign alike. One of the county treasures is Glenveagh National Park. The park is a 140 km² nature reserve with spectacular scenery of mountains, raised boglands, lakes and woodlands.
The Donegal Gaeltacht also attract young people to Donegal each year during the school summer holidays. The three week long summer Gaeltacht courses give young Irish people from other parts of the country a chance to learn the Irish language and traditional Irish cultural traditions that are still prevalent in parts of Donegal.
County Donegal was the birthplace of Elizabeth Catherine Ball, the mother of Robert Justice.
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Commemorative Biographical of the Counties of Wayne and Holmes, Ohio 1889
|Counties of Ireland|
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Contae Dhún na nGall
|Dáil Éireann:||Donegal North East, Donegal South West|