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Located in the northernmost part of Ireland, County Donegal features mountains to the west, beaches along various areas that are bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, and various towns and cities, the main one being Donegal. Sometimes referred to as the "forgotten county," the region felt the effects of multiple disasters over the years, specifically the Great Famine, the Ballymanus mine disaster, and the Troubles.[1] Initially, the area was inhabited by seven main tribes, each of which ruled over a specific time period, the first being Cessair and her people.[8] As a whole, County Donegal has 400 miles of coastline and is bordered by three Northern Ireland counties. Currently, Gaelic is spoken in several places throughout the county, having been influenced by the Ulster dialect.[7] Home to various attractions, the region offers attractions such as Fort Dunree, Marble Hill, Assaranca Waterfall, Donegal Castle, Lough Foyle Ferry, and Giencolmcille Folk Village.[2] Another feature of the area is Glenveagh National Park. With walking trails, Glenveagh Castle, and the Glenveagh Castle Gardens, the national park is known for its nature and conservation areas.[9] Various plants and animals inhabit the area, some of which are red deer, grey seals, Himalayan balsams, red clovers, Atlantic puffins, black swans, and blue tits.[6] 

What Donegal is known for

As one of the counties in the northernmost section of Ireland, County Donegal has been given the nickname of the "forgotten county." This is the result of the government's neglect of the area even during times of crisis.[1] It is home to some of Europe's highest sea cliffs, which are around three times the height of Cloffs of Moher. Another aspect of Donegal that the county is known for is being the home to Star Wars at Malin Head. As an ancestral home of Patron St. Colmcille, the saints that lived in County Donegal are credited with spreading Christianity to Scotland. Home to beaches and cities, County Donegal is known for its natural features.[3] As a whole, County Donegal has a population of 159,192, making it one of the smaller areas in Ireland.[4]

Within County Donegal are various activities and attractions, some of which are relatively well known. Attractions such as Malin Head, Fort Dunree, Giencolmcille Folk Village, Slieve League Cliffs, and Lough Foyle Ferry tend to be noteworthy for tourists to the area. Beaches are typical in places such as Five Finger Strand, Pollan Bay, and Marble Hill, while more geographically unique places include Tory Island, the Secret Waterfall, and Murder Hole Beach. Donegal Castle is visited by multiple tourists a year, and it is known for being created by the O'Donnell chieftains during the 15th century. Other attractions include Assaranca Waterfall, Arranmore Island, Glenevin Waterfall, and Knockamany Bens.[2] 

Glenveagh National Park, located in the western section of County Donegal, features walking trails, gardens, and a castle. Glenveagh Castle is situated on the shores of Lough Veagh, and it was built in the 19th century, specifically somewhere between 1867 and 1873. It was designed by John Townsend Trench, who was a cousin to John George Adair, who was the first owner of the mansion. Open to tours, the castle has various rooms that can be visited, along with views of Lough Veagh. The Glenveagh Castle Gardens are a habitation for multiple plants, along with some animals, mainly insects. Open year-round, the gardens have free admission. Other features of the national park are the trails and nature and conservation areas.[9]


County Donegal is located in the northernmost part of Ireland. Generally, the county is more long than wide with regards to its overall size, characterized by multiple islands and bays. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the south, west, and north, while the eastern side borders Northern Ireland. The western half of County Donegal is mountainous, while the east section has more forests and fields. Glenveagh National Park is located on the western side of the region, while the city of County Donegal is situated on the southern end. Other features include Sheephaven Bay, the Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point - Ballyhiernan Bay, and Drongawn Lough.

Multiple types of animals and plants call County Donegal their home. Depending on where they live, the animals vary from water birds to land mammals, along with some oceanic creatures. Some of the common mammals throughout the county include grey seals, red deer, sika deer, European badgers, fin whales, Risso's dolphins, sperm whales, and brown big-eared bats. Plants, which tend to thrive in the more forested areas, come in forms such as round-leaved sundews, red clovers, common selfheals, Himalayan balsams, Devil's-bit scabious, and sycamore maples. Birds are relatively common and can be found throughout county Donegal. Some bird species in the area are Eurasian blue tits, European robins, common chaffinches, rooks, barn swallows, European starlings, northern lapwings, black swans, and Atlantic puffins. Various other creatures inhabit County Donegal, some of which are reptiles, insects, fungi, and arthropods. Examples of these are red admirals, cinnabar moths, viviparous lizards, yellowfoots, and moss carder bees.[6] 

A typical year in County Donegal consists of cool summers and long winters that are relatively cold and wet. Temperatures in the area often fall somewhere between 37 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit. August usually houses the hottest temperature, which is typically around 64 degrees Fahrenheit, while February tends to be the coldest, with temperatures around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. In County Donegal, the wettest season of the year is in January, while April often receives the least amount of precipitation. Rainfall is the most common in October and December, and it often lies between 2.3 and 4.4 inches. With relatively low humidity, the area often receives tourists from early July to the end of August.[5]


Currently, County Donegal is made up of towns, mountains, loughs, bays, and other features. However, it is believed that the area has been inhabited by humans since approximately 8,000 BC. Some of the oldest signs of life include wedge tombs, court cairn burial chambers, and dolmens, also known as portal tombs. Each of these is from the Neolithic Era. Flint tools, known as microliths, date back to the Mesolithic Age and have been found throughout the county. Artifacts such as stone circles, standing stones, ring forts, and other examples of early Christian craftsmanship have also been preserved.[8] 

According to archaeological findings, historians have predicted that Ireland was inhabited by seven successive tribes at different times in the more prehistoric ages. One of these tribes consisted of Cessair and her people, who arrived before the Biblical flood, while the other six tribes came after the great flood. As the second known tribe, the Fomoire, or Fomorian tribe, pirated parts of the Atlantic region. They later established a base on Tory Island, from where they wreaked havoc on settlers on the mainland. After a few years, the Celtic tribes of Ireland arrived in five specific groups, which are Muintir Partholoin, Muintir Nemid, Na Fir Bolg, Tuatha de Danann, and Clan na Mile. Each of these clans spoke a common language, Gaoidhilg (now called Gaelic), and the language remains in some parts of Donegal, along with other sections of Ireland.[8] 

County Donegal, also sometimes referred to as County Tirconaill, County Tirconnell, or County Tyrconnell, was once the home of a clan, which is called the O'Donnell dynasty in English. As one of Ireland's wealthiest and most powerful families, the O'Donnells lived with power until around 1600. Eventually, the O'Neill Clan would become more powerful. For several centuries, the O'Donnells ruled over Tir Chonaill, a Gaelic kingdom located in West Ulster that covered almost all of modern County Donegal. Their royal power was terminated when County Donegal was created in September 1607.[1] 

During the Great Famine, County Donegal is reported to have experienced the worst effects of the famine, specifically in the late 1840s. Various communities in the county were devastated, and multiple areas became permanently depopulated as a result. Vast numbers of the area's people emigrated, and many of them passed through Foyle Port.[1] 

Another disaster occurred in May 1943 on a beach at Ballymanus. Referred to as the Ballymanus mine disaster, the event was caused when local villagers attempted to transport an unexploded marine mine from the ocean to the beach. A total of eighteen men between the ages of 13 and 34 were killed in the explosion. [1] 

Other historical events that County Donegal went through were the Partition of Ireland in the early 1920s, the Troubles in the late 20th century, and various economic and social difficulties. The region has been given the nickname of the "forgotten county" by its own politicians due to the lack of attention by the government during times of crisis.[1]