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County Donegal surpasses anywhere else in Ireland for bleakness, dramatic coastal scenery and peat bog expanses. Extending further north than neighbouring Northern Ireland, Donegal is almost cut off from the rest of the Irish Republic with the projection of County Fermanagh - part of Northern Ireland.
Approximately one-third of this beautiful remote county falls in the Gaeltacht, where Irish is the linngua franca as opposed to English. The Irish government have been instrumental in preserving the language and promoting the social and cultural well-being of the Gaeltacht, particularly around the Gweedore region in the northwest of the county.
At the head of Donegal Bay is Donegal Town, the county's principal gateway for discovering the beauty and character that reverberates throughout, from quaint market towns to jaw-dropping wilderness of Glenveagh National Park. As the main seat of the O'Donnell Family, the 15th Century Donegal Castle perches high on a rock outcrop overlooking the River Eske. Rebuilt in 1623 in Jacobean Style when an Englishman took possession of the castle, this Dúchas Site is opened from March to October and is a must see during your visit to the town. Donegal Town is the county's main centre for music, theatre and entertainment, boasting and exquisite selection of eateries serving vegetarian options and traditional Irish fare.
From Mountcharles to The Finn Valley in the southwest, County Donegal is home to a myriad of beauty spots around every corner of the southwest coast. The village of Killybegs is Ireland's most important fishing ports, famed for its beautiful handmade carpets. Several operators organised sea angling trips around the coast to catch cod, mackerel and pollock. The Finn Valley inland has breathtaking wilderness and mountainous landscapes traveresed with desolate valleys and rivers, ideal for salmon fishing. Why not trek part of the Ulster Way which criss-crosses the nearby Blue Stack Mountains, offering a superb panoramic vistas across the county towards the ocean, a perfect tonic to increase your fitness.
Donegal's northwest is even more dramatic and awe-inpsiring, attracting a wealth of visitors during the busy high season. Despite the non-existance of large towns, you are never too far from a village or pub. The capital of the Rosses area, Dungloe is a good holiday base for discovering the magnificent northwest and hosts the annual Mary of Dungloe Festival in late July and early August- a contest that selects the best female vocalist. The rugged coastline around Gweedore is hugged award-winning beaches and charming fishing villages such as Burton Port, Derrybeg and Bunbeg where you may find traditional Irish music sessions on any given night of the week.
Several kilometres inland is Donegal's highest peak, Mount Errigal (752m) towering above the edge of Glenveagh National Park. You do not have to be an accomplished mountaineer to reach its summit, which can be climbed using an easier tourist path. Whether visiting family, friends or simply exploring this magnificent county of dramtic contrasts, you will be inspired by Donegal's striking landscapes and and genuine Irish Hospitality that echo throughout, from shops and restaurants to remote mountain villages.
Please click on the Ulster map below to find out more information about nearby Irish counties.
There are 9 counties in Ulster Province.
Irish Republic: Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan.
Northern Ireland: Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down,
Fermanagh and Tyrone.
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