Donegal Castle

AKA O'Donnell's Castle

In the centre of Donegal town on a bend of the River Eske is this beautifully restored 15th Century castle. The name Donegal comes from the Irish "Dhun na nGall", translated as Fort of the Foreigner, and is believed to have come from a Viking fort at this location. Sadly, no archaeological evidence of the fort remains.

The fortified castle keep, built by the wealthy chief of the O'Donnell clan and stronghold for this ruling family, was widely regarded as one of the finest Gaelic castles in Ireland. Before he fled Hugh Roe O'Donnell was forced to set fire to his tower before it fell into English hands.

After the Flight of the Earls the castle and grounds were granted to an English Captain Basil Brooke, who rebuilt and added a floor to the partially destroyed keep as well as adding the Jacobean-style manor house wing, pictured below. It later fell into ruin in the 18th century. In 1898 the then owner, the Earl of Arran, donated the castle to the Office of Public Works. The keep was recently restored by the OPW, adding new roofing and floors using 15th and 17th century techniques and materials.

The great room with large fireplace bearing Brooke's coat of arms and floor-to-ceiling windows was a real treat to explore. We were caught by surprise at how well the restoration was done and the wonderful diorama displays in the keep. We would both strongly recommend a visit to this fine example.

Situated: Very easy. The Castle can be seen from the Diamond, which is the main square in the town. Head north west towards Bridge Street. The Castle is situated on the corner of Bridge St and Castle St. Heritage card accepted.

Discovery Map 11: G 9286 7855. Last visit Sept 2010.

Longitude: 8° 6' 38 " W

Latitude:i54° 39' 18 " N

Google Map.

Photos: Jim Dempsey, Deb Snelson.

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