(Irish: Dún na nGall) is a town in County Donegal, Ireland. Donegal is not the county
town (capital) of County Donegal, despite being its namesake.
Rather, the county town is Lifford, and Letterkenny is the
county's largest town. Donegal town is situated at the mouth of Donegal Bay
and is overshadowed by the Bluestack Mountains.
Irish name translates into English as Fort of the Foreigners
(Vikings). There is evidence for settlements around the
town dating back to prehistoric times including the remains of
round forts and other earth works. There is a record of an early
Danish fortress being destroyed by Muirchertach MacLochlainn,
High King of Ireland in 1159. This Viking settlement is possibly
the origin of the town's name.
itself is famous for being the former home to the O'Donnell
clan, who played a pivotal role in Irish history. From the 15th
to the 17th century, they provided the main opposition to the
colonization of Ireland by England. The
town itself contains Donegal castle (shown above) and the
remains of a Franciscan abbey which dates back to the 15th
century. The Annals of the Four Masters are traditionally
thought to have been started in the abbey in the early 17th
century. The story of Red Hugh O'Donnell, Lord of Tyrconnel, was
the inspiration behind many books and films, not least, Disney's
The Fighting Prince of Donegal (1966).
the Flight of the Earls in 1607, the castle and its lands were
given to an English captain, Basil Brooke, as part of the
Plantation of Ulster. Brooke carried 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 including an
attractive town square or Diamond. From the late
seventeenth until the early twentieth centuries,
Town formed part of the
vast estates of the Gore family (from 1762 Earls of Arran) and
it while in their ownership that the town took on its present
appearance. Donegal returned two members to the Irish Parliament
until the Act of Union (1800). Evidence of the Irish Famine
still exists including a workhouse, whose buildings are now part
of the local hospital, and a famine grave.
Traditionally the largest employer in the town has been Magee of
Donegal. They are internationally known for their fine tweed
garments, some of which can be seen being woven by hand on small
looms in the company's department store.