The Heavenly County Donegal and the History Behind it

7 Dec

County Donegal is a part of province of Ulster in Ireland. It is named after the town of Donegal. Donegal people maintain a distinct cultural and friendly identity. The county is the most mountainous in Ulster consisting chiefly of two ranges of low mountains; 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. It has a deeply indented coastline forming natural sea loughs, of which both Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle are the most notable. The Slieve League cliffs are the sixth-highest sea cliffs in Europe, while Malin Head is the most northerly point on the island of Ireland.

Donegal is breathtaking tourist attraction with misty mountains, passive lakes and vivid coastlines – Fill your day with the diversity of a post brunch walk along a sandy beach followed by a visit to a Castle or visitor centre and a stop off at a craft shop along the way.

Donegal Tourism Information

There are many sandy beaches in the area of Donegal, such as Lisfannon and Murvagh beaches, and some boasting good surfing conditions, such as Rossnowlagh and Pollan Bay.

Donegal is also used as a base for hill-walking in the nearby Urris and Bluestack Mountains. With its sandy beaches, unspoilt boglands and friendly communities, County Donegal is a favored destination for many travelers, Irish (especially Northern Irish) and foreign alike. One of the county treasures is Glenveagh National Park (formerly part of the Glenveagh Estate), as yet (March 2012) the only official national park anywhere in the Province of Ulster.
The Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal has its very own Inishowen 100 (Voted one of Ireland’s Top Ten Scenic Drives – Irish Independent 2010), which allows you to get around the Inishowen area in Donegal without missing anything important.

The Wildfowl Reserve can either be entered through Burt or Inch Island in Donegal. The Wildfowl reserve offers an internationally significant destination and staging ground for migrating birds from three continents.

Inch Island is situated on the southwest corner of Inishowen, Donegal. While the name of the place is Inch Island, it is in fact attached to the mainland by a wide causeway. Inch Island is well known for its excellent bird watching where birds such as the whopper swans appear quite regularly and plenty of picnic benches to stop off for a spot of lunch.

On the scenic drive you will then come across Fahan, County  Donegal where you will see a sign post for St Mura. This is the site of the ancient 7th century Abbey of St Mura. The beautiful cross of St Mura marks his grave 654A.D and other artifacts such as the wishing stone and Greek Cross both which are set in the outer wall surrounding the site. When visiting this site keep an eye open for Agnes Jones grave who was a nursing colleague of the famous Florence Nightingale, the large gave where 68 victims of the H.M.S Laurentic and also Cecil Frances Alexander’s grave who was the wife of the Anglican Bishop of Derry who wrote “All things bright and Beautiful.

Fahan, Donegal is also well known for the beautiful Lough Swilly Marina which holds over 400 boats and yachts of varying sizes. Situated beside Lisfannon beach it’s a perfect place for taking in the Sunrise and watching the boats come in for the evening on a beautiful Donegal’s summers evening.

When coming round the corner of Fahan, Donegal and entering Lisfannon, you will become memorize with the panoramic view of Lough Swilly. This is just one of the many panoramic views that Inishowen, Donegal has to offer. You will also see a sign post with Amazing Grace written on it. This is where the world’s most famous and well-loved hymns was inspired and written by the Slave trade John Newton years later after he was captured and escaped from death after finding refuge in Lough Swilly, Donegal.

The town Buncrana is next on your journey where it is located on the banks of Lough Swilly which translate from the Gaelic into the very appropriate “Lake of Shadows”. Buncrana has plenty of history about it such as the Wolfe Tone who was taken ashore following his capture on board a French warship during the 1789 rebellion; also we have O’Dohertys Keep and  Fr. Hegarty’s rock. There is plenty to do for the kids in the area, along Buncrana’s Shore front there is Play Park, the shore front walk, and Swan Park. Plenty of restaurants, accommodation such as Hotels in Donegal, aires de service, B&B’s and hostels etc that will accommodate any of your needs. Buncrana also has plenty of live entertainment and festivals during the summer that will make your stay unforgettable.

Just outside Buncrana, Donegal you then have another panoramic view at Dunree/ Desertegney. This view can best be captured at either Fort Dunree or Dunree beach. The tranquil views would capture anyone’s heart as well as the fort that demonstrates its vital role in coastal defense of Donegal and neutrality protection with a complete expose of coastal artillery.

From Dunree you can see in the distance the Urris Mountains, Donegal and the famous gap of “Maghmore”. Mamore gap is 800ft above sea level. Not advised for cyclists but more suitable in a motor, the crawl to the top is worthwhile as you are rewarded with the views of Lennan and Urris. The well path out walks in this area is fabulous as you really capture Inishowen and Donegal’s beauty.

From the top of Mamore after taking in the wonderful views at the viewing points you can then go on to make yourself down the Urris Mountains where at the base of the mountain you will see five beautiful Donegal cottages that have been restored to the original cottage. The winding roads will then lead you on to Dunaff Head where on a clear day you can see as far as Tory Island, Donegal.

Clonmany, Donegal is a small traditional Irish village that lies beside a river overlooked and sheltered by awe-inspiring mountains .Clonmany is a friendly village with plenty to offer such as the Glenevin waterfall, the beautiful Binion and Tullagh strands. Clonmany is very busy in the summer with their Donegal music festival which is very popular and starts on the first weekend of August for a week.
Beside Clonmany you then have Ballyliffin where it is well known for its beautiful Ballyffin beach/beach park and the famous Golf course where the entire pro’s like to pay a visit when coming to Donegal. The beach stretches out for over 2 miles and is known as Pollan stand which has excellent conditions for windsurfing, body boarding etc. On one end of the strand you will notice the Carrickabraghy castle which was built around the late 1,500 A.D.. The Ballyliffin golf links course is set in the natural terrain and incredible dunes, a must for golf fanatics and a favorite of Nick Faldos when visiting  Ireland and Donegal.
St. Patrick’s cross in Carndonagh, Donegal dates back to the 7th century, making it one of the very early Christian crosses is beautifully decorated with cravings of the older Celtic art of interlacing patterns.

The circuit of Malin Head, Donegal will take you past the Radio station; built in 1910, and round the coast to Banba’s crown, the most northerly tip of Ireland. “The Tower’” was built in 1805 and used as a Lloyds Signal Station. On a good day the Scottish coast line and nearby Inishtrahull Island are visible.

Inishowen and Donegal Maritime Museum & Planetarium: Attractions include nautical exhibits, memorabilia, photographs, modern and ancient maritime equipment and Irish boats from six to fifty feet. The state-of-the-art planetarium features accurate depictions of our night skies and multi-media presentations depicting voyages through the universe.

Grianan of Aileach Donegal: The Grianan Aileach Stone Fort, once the seat of the High Kings, is built on the site of the original 1700BC ring fort. It looks out over the beautiful waters of Counties Donegal, Derry, Tyrone and Antrim.


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