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Experience a Show Stopping Display of Colour with an Autumn Walking Break in Donegal

Donegal is a wonderful destination on the Wild Atlantic Way, especially if you love a good adventure! Whatever the time of year there really is no better place to be than Donegal. Immerse yourself in the wonders of nature and take a break from the fast pace of daily life with a walking holiday in Donegal this autumn. Each season brings newness to the many rich and vibrant landscapes in County Donegal and autumn brings a particularly show stopping display of glorious colour to Donegal. This is the perfect time of year to wrap up and go walking. There are many waymarked ways, national looped walks, coastal paths, island loops and mountain walks. If you are looking for a relaxed paced stroll or a more challenging hike, Donegal has something for everyone. Here we bring you a selection of some of the best walks in Donegal to enjoy this autumn that are suitable for all.

Inch Wildfowl Reserve is in Inishowen and features a scenic pathway around the lake edge with panoramic views of the surrounding agricultural landscape and wetlands. Nestled in the shadows of Scalp Mountain on the eastern shores of Lough Swilly, tucked neatly behind Inch Island, you will find Inch Wildfowl Reserve. Once part of Lough Swilly the area was drained and reclaimed for farmland, each winter the site hosts thousands of migratory birds. The conditions here are perfect for over-wintering geese, for whooper swans and nesting gulls, for ducks, grebes and wading birds. The site includes a popular 8km looped path with seating, viewpoints and a number of bird hides open to the public. Three car parks are available to visitors including a disabled viewing area and coach parking. An Grianán Hotel is not far from Inch Wildfowl Reserve if you plan on staying overnight in the area. 

Ards Forest Park this time of year is awash with beautiful autumnal colour. Located between Creeslough and Dunfanaghy, Ards Forest Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Donegal. It is 480 hectares in size and is home to a variety of flora and fauna. Ards Forest Park has much to discover with sandy beaches, rivers, viewing points, nature walks, picnic and play areas to enjoy. Ards Forest Park has a number of trails, the Arts Heritage Trail is 3.5km long, the nature trail and the green trail which are both 3km long and the Red Trail which is 13km long. This walk includes some shortcuts back to the starting point should the weather change. Ards Forest Park offers a display of autumnal colour this time of year that rivals many of the world’s most famous autumn destinations and you may even catch a glimpse of local deer that roam freely through the forest year round. You will find an excellent map of Ards Forest Park on the Coillte Irish forestry website along with many other path and trail maps. Check out the family run Arnold's Hotel in Dunfanaghy for some amazing autumn/winter break offers.

* Thanks to Dan Palooga and Arnold's Hotel for the amazing photos of Ards Forest Park in Autumn.

As the autumn rain falls, this increases the flow of Glenevin Waterfall near Clonmany making the waterfall especially vibrant at this time.  Glenevin is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Donegal; this is the perfect place for some autumn exploration. Walk along mature deciduous woodland pathways that are safe and well sign-posted. Against the backdrop of the rugged high ground of Raghtin More, a walk up Glenevin Valley is exceptional. There are various picnic areas and footbridges dotted along the well maintained pathway. This walk is suitable for all abilities as it is not too strenuous, but and it offers an array of autumn colours in this wooded stream valley. The perfect place for photography or painting enthusiasts to hone their craft. The walk takes you to Glenevin Waterfall where you will be rewarded with the glorious sight of the gushing waterfall; one of Inishowen’s most spectacular natural attractions. Find out more on the region from Ballyliffin Clonmany Tourism on Facebook.

For more breathtaking autumn colour, get on your walking boots and head out to tread the pathway at Burtonport Railway Walk. This is a 6 km route through one of the most wild and remote areas of Donegal with panoramic views. Follow the route of the railway line to Burtonport as it runs along Muckish Mountain from Creeslough to Falcarragh. The natural colours of autumn are awash across the heath and hills this time of year. This walking route takes in lough Agher and cuts through rocky outcrops where you can observe some of the engineering fetes involved in the construction of the original railway line. The route has a gradual elevation and is mostly level with the downhill trend heading in the Falcarragh direction. Cosy up in one of the 'heated' wooden pods at the Wild Atlantic Camp in Creeslough for a unique autumnal nights stay.

Take in a breath of refreshing Atlantic sea air with a walk along Buncrana Shore in Inishowen. At 2.3km one way the Buncrana shore-path is a traffic free walk along the coast that follows the shoreline of Lough Swilly between Buncrana and Stragill Strand. This beautiful area was the inspiration for John Newton’s famous hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ and it is easy to see why Lough Swilly was his muse. New information panels along the route tell the tales of the many years of maritime history and heritage of the area. Buncrana shore walk is a gentle path alongside beaches, an old military fort called Ned’s Point and there are picnic areas plus a children’s play park along the way if you fancy a stop off. Spot the local coastal wildlife and take in the panoramic views that are simply unforgettable. Warm up with a hot chocolate and delicious home bakes at Tank and Skinny's coffee shop after your coastal walk or relax and unwind with an overnight stay in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel in Buncrana.

Autumn in Donegal is a season that is wild and untamed and brings to mind the Shelley poem ‘Ode to the West Wind’! Start planning your Wild Atlantic Way autumn walking adventure in Donegal on www.govisitdonegal.com

Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley

“O Wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed”

Island Hopping Adventure Breaks on the Donegal Islands

The Donegal Islands have a special place in the hearts of many people, both in those that can trace their roots here and those that have visited from other places. Islanders that have left will always be connected to them and those that remain keep the island tradition and culture of the past alive. The Donegal Islands are unique places on the Wild Atlantic Way where the Irish language still thrives and the heritage of past island life is preserved. Peace and tranquillity can be felt the moment you step foot onto any of the Donegal Islands and time stands still.  

With 1134km of coastline, Donegal has a lot of islands and is the ideal destination for an island hopping adventure break! On North West coast of Ireland in the Irish speaking Gaeltacht region you will find many of the Donegal Islands including the two largest islands, Tory and Arranmore. You can also find Gola, Inishbofin, Inishfree, Island Roy, Rutland, Inishkerragh, Owey and Inishirrer. Inishtrahull Island is the most Northerly island off the coast of Ireland and Inch Island can be found in Lough Swilly.

Inishtrahull Island (Inis Trá Tholl) is located off the coast of Malin Head, Co Donegal, the most northerly point of the country and the last sign of Ireland that most who emigrated to America from Derry ever saw. The island is now uninhabited by people but is a haven for wildlife.  The rocks on Inishtrahull are 1.7 billion years old and the geography of the island is more like that of Greenland and parts of Scandinavia than Ireland.

Only one mile from mainland Donegal is Gola Island (Oileán Ghabhla) has been inspiring artists and photographers for many years. Gola is the perfect place to find sanctuary in the still quietness of its stunning shores. Breathtaking coastal landscapes and towering cliffs offer adventure seekers a paradise to explore. With natural habitats, wildlife watchers delight in the sights of Gola. Rock climbers indulge in some of the best climbing in the world on Gola and walkers journey along the Bealach na Gaeltachta trail. Visit Loch Mhachaire na nGall, a small lake that nestles in the hills and once was filled with wild eels. Get to Gola by ferry, departing from the pier at Bunbeg (Bun Beag) or Machaire Gathlán.  

Inishbofin (Inis Bó Finne) ‘the island of the white cow’ is a tranquil oasis far removed from the rush of modern life. Located two miles off the mainland of Donegal, Inishbofin has beautiful white sandy beaches and some really unique cliffs and caves. It has not been long since electricity and running water were provided on the island in 2002! Step back in time on Inishbofin and listen to the spoken Irish of the island community. Inishbofin is famous amongst bird watchers as the island is home to the rare and elusive corncrake and barnacle geese who fly here from the Arctic each Autumn to remain for Winter. Hundreds of wild rabbits can be found frolicking in the fields of Inishbofin.

Arranmore Island (Árainn Mhór) offers an abundance of activity holiday options with something for everyone. The island is seven square miles in size, has approximately 470 resident inhabitants and is just three miles off mainland Donegal. From Burtonport catch one of the car and passenger ferries to the island. Arranmore is a particularly popular spot for divers and deep sea anglers. There are many paths and trails, rugged cliffs and long white sandy beaches. Flora and fauna thrive on Arranmore Island. Steeped in history, the island’s music, song and dance traditions keep the heritage and culture of Arranmore in the hearts of many. In summer the island hosts some fantastic festivals such as Swell Fest. Enjoy a Sea Safari boat trip to discover the marine life around the island. You will find a warm welcome on Arranmore Island and no shortage of things to see and do. Don’t miss it!

Take a trip to Tory Island (Oileán Thoraí) by ferry from Magheroarty (Machaire Rabhartaigh), an inhabited craggy island eight miles off Cnoc Fola (Bloody Foreland) with panoramic coastal views. First occupied more than 4,500 years ago in Neolithic times, Tory island has a long and varied history. Said to have been the stronghold of Balor na Súile Nimhe (Balor of the Evil Eye) a mythical warlord who features in island folklore, Tory has a fascinating story to tell and Tory Island has no shortage of storytellers!  Ancient customs survive on Tory. The island even has its own King or Rí Thoraí. Walking, rock climbing, wildlife watching and cultural activities all make up an adventure on Tory. Whatever your favourite activity, Tory is a place of adventure.

Food and Hospitality with Real Heart in Ireland’s most Northerly County

My native County of Donegal took another significant step towards establishing itself as one of the country’s foremost regions for food and hospitality with the triumph of its first ever Signature Dish Event. Based in the picturesque surroundings of Harvey’s Point, this was a showcase not only for the very best of local cuisine, but the story behind it. Because excellence, to me, means more than sourcing the best of fresh local produce;  more than superb, innovative cooking and the warmest hospitality; it’s sharing the very heart and inspiration of each and every signature dish served at table.

      That’s always been the ethos at the heart of my cooking and that inspires and guides my latest venture, the Foyle Hotel project in the beautiful village of Moville on the shores of Lough Swilly that opened for business this summer. While many years and awards away from being even nominally a ‘newcomer’ to the profession,  I was delighted to accept the prestigious Newcomer of the Year 2019 title for the Foyle Hotel at the Georgina Campbell Awards in Dublin earlier this autumn. 

It was a validation not only of my own philosophy and professional practice but of each of the thirty six staff employed there and of the formidable kitchen pairing of Head Chef Derek Creagh,and Head Pastry Chef Monto Mansour,
        It was a further delight to be invited to assume the prestigious role of Master of Ceremonies for the groundbreaking Donegal Signature Dish event at Harvey’s Point. This celebration of culinary excellence brought together a selection of Donegal’s most talented chefs, food suppliers and trade representatives, together with guest food writers and bloggers, in a superb location.
    Hosted by Donegal County Council in association with Donegal Tourism, the aim was simple yet its results were stunning-to celebrate Donegal food and fresh local produce and to promote the people who champion it – chefs, restaurants, suppliers and artisan producers. Restaurants across the county were invited earlier this year to submit their signature dishes. From these, we formed a menu for the event. The dishes had to consist of Donegal sourced ingredients and feature on the current or seasonal menu.

     The final, mouth watering tasting menu comprised a balanced selection of ten dishes from around the county. Each chef also had an opportunity to share the story behind the dish with the audience.

The Head of the Tourism Unit of Donegal County Council, Barney McLaughlin, reflected afterwards:
       “We are delighted that the chefs in the county have risen to the challenge to participate in this exciting event. This is not a competition but an opportunity to 
showcase the best that the county has to offer; it’s about working together to promote quality food in Donegal and send a message out to our local people, guests and visitors that Donegal does food well.’’

       It really does. I hope I’ve inspired you to pay a first or welcome return visit to my native county. See you soon.

    Chef Brian McDermott

    Participating chefs comprised a veritable Who’s Who of Donegal’s finest:
Chef Gary McPeake - McGrory’s Hotel, Culdaff
Chef Christopher Molloy - Lemon Tree Restaurant, Letterkenny
Chef Anthony Armstrong – Nesbitt Arms Hotel, Ardara
Chefs Chris McMenamin and Colin McKee – Harvey’s Point Hotel, Donegal Town
Chef Paul Brady – Castle Grove Country House, Letterkenny
Chef Marco Letterese – The Olde Castle Bar, Donegal Town
Chef Ian Orr – Browns on the Green, Letterkenny
Chef Brian McMonagle – Arnolds Hotel, Dunfanaghy
Chef Karl Murtagh – The Silver Tassie Hotel & Spa, Letterkenny
Chefs Joe & Brenda O’Hora – Benny & Co, Ballybofey



Donegal Promoted as a Top Foodie Destination

Up to 70 special guests were treated to a splendid display of Donegal food on Tuesday night when twelve top class chefs from all over the county came together in Harvey’s Point to showcase the very best of Donegal food. 

Mouth watering dishes were prepared by some of Donegal’s most talented chefs using local produce from local suppliers.  Guests, including high profile food writers and bloggers, where blown away by the high standard at what was the first ever Donegal Signature Dish event. 

Donegal chefs participating in the Donegal Signature Dish event in Harvey’s Point Hotel on Tuesday night Standing left to right: Brian McDermott, Guest host and MC; Paul Brady, Castle Grove Country House Hotel; Marco Letterese, The Olde Castle Bar & Restaurant; Gary McPeake, McGrory’s Hotel; Christopher Molloy,The Lemon Tree Restaurant; Brian McMonagle, Arnolds Hotel; Ian Orr, Browns on the Green; Karl Murtagh Silver Tassie Hotel & Spa.  Sitting left to right: Kamal Rai, McGrory’s Hotel; Anthony Armstrong, Nesbitt Arms Hotel; Colin McKee, Harvey’s Point Hotel; Joe O’Hora, Benny & Co Coffee Bar & Restaurant and Chris McMenamin, Harvey’s Point.
Among the invited guests was Irish celebrity chef, television personality, author and owner of Dunbrody House Kitchens and Cookery School Kevin Dundon; Assistant Editor with National Geographic Traveller Food, Farida Zeynalova; Chairperson of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, freelance journalist, author, restaurant critic and HolyMackerel.ie food blogger Aoife Carrigy; Fáilte Ireland's Food Ambassador, Irish Food Guide Blogger and Donegal Chef Zack Gallagher; Michelin trained chef, founder of ChanChan and ambassador with Bord Bia Shanghai, Kwanghi Chan; representative of the Restaurant Association of Ireland, Sean Redmond and representing Fáilte Ireland Máire Áine Gardiner.

Noel Cunningham welcoming guests to the Donegal Signature Dish event in Harvey’s Point Hotel on Tuesday night from left to right Dr Ciarán Ó hAnnarcháin, LYIT School of Tourism; Barney Mc Laughlin, Donegal County Council; Cllr Micheál Naughton; Seamus Neely, Donegal County Council/Donegal Tourism CLG; Celebrity Chef Kevin Dundon; Farida Zeynalova, National Geographic Traveller Food; Aoife Carrigy, Irish Food Writers' Guild; Chef Brian McDermott; Kwanghi Chan, Bord Bia Shanghai; Iga Lawne, Donegal County Council; Dr Seán Duffy, LYIT School of Tourism and Cllr Martin Harley.
In the ambience of the beautiful Garden Suite, the event started with a drink reception during which canapés were served.  Attending guests also had a chance to sample a selection of locally produced drinks including craft beers, gin and whiskey compliments of Bog Hopper Brewery from Muff, Donegal Brewing Company from Ballyshannon, Kinnegar Brewing from Letterkenny, Old Mill Brewing Company from Convoy and Sliabh Liag Distillery from Carrick.

The sit down tasting dinner consisted of 10 different dishes from around the county cooked on the night, which was a real feast for the stomach, as well as the eyes. The dishes were chosen by the organising committee in a selection process earlier this year. Each dish had to fulfil two criteria – consist of Donegal produce and be available on each establishment’s menu either currently or on a seasonal basis.

Signature Dishes served during the Donegal Signature Dish event on Tuesday night - Top L-R Greencastle Smoked Haddock and Balymoley Leek Chowder by Chef Gary McPeake, McGrory’s Hotel; Autumn Beetroot Salad (V) by Chef Christopher Molloy – Lemon Tree Restaurant; Top of the Cliff to Bottom of the Bay by Chef Anthony Armstrong, Nesbitt Arms Hotel; Arnold’s Surf & Turf by Chef Brian Mc Monagle, Arnolds Hotel; Bitter Chocolate Torte by Chefs Joe & Brenda O’Hora – Benny & Co, Ballybofey.  Bottom L-R: Turf Smoked Donegal Lamb by Chef Ian Orr, Browns on the Green; Castle Grove Walled Garden Tomato & Basil Pressed Terrine (V) by Chef Paul Brady, Castle Grove Country House; Donegal Beef by Chefs Chris McMenamin and Colin McKee, Harvey’s Point Hotel; The Olde Castle Seafood Platter by Chef Marco Letterese, The Olde Castle Bar; Donegal Dúlamán Gin Infused Carrageen Moss by Chef Karl Murtagh, The Silver Tassie Hotel & Spa.

Cllr Seamus O’Domhnaill, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council said “we have outstanding, creative chefs in Donegal who utilise the delicious, locally grown foods produced by farmers and marine producers to prepare new dishes of cuisine that highlight our heritage and culture. We must tell a renewed story about Donegal food and drink experience, focusing on quality, authenticity, innovation and value for money and this is why we are here this evening’.

Harvey’s Point Staff delivering an impressive food service during the Donegal Signature Dish event on Tuesday night.
Barney Mc Laughlin from Donegal County Council thanked the committee, the chefs who submitted their dishes, the guest host Chef Brian McDermott, table hosts, suppliers, Harvey’s Point staff and management and all the guests for their attendance and paid a special tribute to the chefs who took on a challenging task of cooking and serving their dishes, making it a very memorable evening for all attending.

6 Wonders of Donegal

Doe Castle, Cresslough, Donegal.

Doe Castle

Doe Castle sits deep in Sheephaven Bay, in a spectacular location on the shore near Creeslough village. It was a stronghold of the MacSweeney Clan who came to Donegal from Scotland as Gallowglasses (professional fighters).
The central keep dates probably from the middle of the 15th century and was later enclosed by a bawn wall with flanker and gun loops. Surrounded by water on three sides, a deep fosse was carved out of rock to protect its landward side.
It is said that survivors from the Spanish Armada were sheltered here by the MacSweeneys and it was here that the young Red Hugh O’Donnell was fostered.
The castle saw many changes in its fortunes in the turbulent 17th century surviving siege and cannon fire. It was finally restored and extended by General George Vaughan Hart who transformed the castle into a country manor in the early 19th century complete with crenulated battlements. His initials can be seen above the doorway on the east side of the keep.
In 1934 it came under the protection of the Office of Public Works. They carried out extensive restoration work in the late 1990s. The grounds are open each day from dawn to dusk and weekend tours inside the keep will be available during the summer.
Grounds, excluding the tower house
Daily from 9am - 6pm
Guided tours of the tower house are facilitated by the local community group, Moving Mevagh Forward, Friday to Sunday during July and August.
Admission Free, For Guided tours, a fee of 3 euro per person is applicable to all persons aged 12 and over.
Facilities: Coffee shop nearby.

Fort Dunree, Dunree Head, Donegal.

Fort Dunree

Fort Dunree, Dun Fhraoigh in Irish means, Fort of the Heather and indicates that this site has been an important defensive site down through history. Today, however, its stunning natural beauty and abundant wildlife are drawing increasing numbers of visitors to one of Inishowen's most beautiful and peaceful locations. Fort Dunree was first opened to the public in 1986 and has attracted tourists from all over the world ever since. Fort Dunree also boasts a network of walking paths, a wildlife exhibition, further military displays, a shop, and a waterfront cafeteria. Fort Dunree now hosts art exhibitions, wildlife talks, yoga classes and even weddings. It is a must-see for every visitor to the Inishowen peninsula.
Open All Year Round Monday - Sunday 10.30 am - 6.00 pm.
Adult - €7
Kids - €5
Seniors - €5
Family - €15
Group (10) - €3 each.
Facilities: Scenic Walks
The Guns of Dunree Exhibition
The Wildlife Discovery Room
The Rockhill Collection
Coffee Cup- The most scenic Coffee Shop in Ireland!
Kayaking, Snorkelling, and Coasteering can now be pre-booked
Exhibition/Conference Space

Glencolmcille Folk Village

Glencolmcille Folk Village

The Glencolmcille Folk Village is built in the form of a village in which each house is an exact replica of a dwelling used by the local people in each of the three successive centuries (18th, 19th 20th) and is equipped with the furniture, artifacts, and utensils of its particular period.
This thatched-roof replica of a rural village in Ireland’s most northwesterly county offers a glimpse into daily life as it was during past centuries.
The Folk Village Museum is a cluster of several small cottages, called a ‘clachan’, perched on a hillside overlooking the sandy curve of Glen Bay Beach in the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area) of South West Donegal. Designed, built and maintained by the local people, the Folk Village is one of Ireland's best living-history museums.
The Folk Village is open from Easter until the end of October.
Dé Luain (Monday) - Dé Sathairn (Saturday) 10 am - 6 pm
Dé Domhnaigh (Sunday) 10.00 to 18.00 hrs (July and August)
From 1st of October
Monday to Sunday 11.00 to 4.30 pm
**End of October, ring in advance to clarify exact date of closure.
Tour prices are as follows:
  • Adults €6.00
  • Senior €5.00
  • Group €5.50 (over 11 pax.)
  • Students €5.00
  • Children over 7 year €2.50 (Under 7 years free)
  • Family €15.00 (2 Adults and 2 children only) - please note that 3 or more children will be a €1.00 extra per child.

Glenveagh National Park, Donegal.

Glenveagh National Park

Glenveagh National Park is one of six national parks in Ireland, encompassing some 16,000 acres in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains.
Glenveagh National Park is open all year round.
Castle, Visitor Centre, and Gardens open every day apart from Good Friday and the Christmas period.
Glenveagh Visitor Centre
The Glenveagh Visitor Centre is located on the northern end of Lough Veagh, near the edge of the National Park. Its award-winning design incorporates a living heather roof mimicking the surrounding landscape causing the minimum disturbance. The extensive displays contained within provide an introduction to the parks natural and built history as well as providing information on walking trails events etc. Guides on duty will also be happy to provide visitors with information about the park and surrounding area as well as tickets for the park buses.
The visitor centre provides the following facilities:
Tourist Information
Car Parking
Audio Visual Displays
Bus Tickets
Baby changing facilities
Restaurant (Open at Easter and then June to September only)
Glenveagh Castle
Glenveagh Castle is a 19th-century castellated mansion and was built between 1867 and 1873. Its construction in a remote mountain setting was inspired by the Victorian idyll of a romantic highland retreat. It was designed by John Townsend Trench, a cousin of its builder and first owner, John George Adair, with whom he had been raised in Co. Laois. The designer appears to have imitated the style of earlier Irish Tower-houses adding an air of antiquity to the castle. The building stone chose was granite, plentiful in Donegal but difficult to work and allowing for little detail. The forbidding architecture of the castle is quickly forgotten amidst the varied comforts within. Henry McIlhenny, the last owner of the castle, served the Philadelphia Museum of Art as Curator of Decorative Arts and his expertise in this field is evident throughout the castle. Through time, each room acquired a different character, some roughly in keeping with the period of the house, others freely inventive. Few of the great houses of Ireland are preserved in this condition, with their original furnishings, and in Glenveagh Castle one catches a glimpse of a lifestyle belonging to an earlier age. Access to the castle is by guided tour which lasts approx. 30 mins
Glenveagh Castle Tearooms
The tearoom is located in the castle courtyard and opens daily from 11am to 5.30pm. Serving delicious home-baked scones, cakes, bread, soups, and sandwiches, it is the perfect place to relax and take a break during your visit to the beautiful gardens or after your tour of the castle.
bookings@glenveaghtearooms.com       http://www.glenveaghnationalpark.ie/               
November - March the Visitor Centre is open from 9.00am to 5.00pm. The last bus to the castle and garden is at 3.45pm. The last bus return from the castle is at 4.45pm.
March 17th to 31st October - The Visitors Centre is open from 9.15am to 5.30pm. The last bus to castle and garden is at 4.45pm. The last bus return from the castle is at 5.45pm.

Adult Bus Return                            €3.00
Concession Bus Return                  €2.00
65 years & over, a student with a valid student card & children over the age of six years
Single Ticket                                   €1.50

Adult Castle Ticket                           €7.00
Concession Castle Ticket                 €5.00
Family Castle Ticket                         €15.00
65 years & over, a student with a valid student card & children over the age of six years  
Castle Tours will be limited during the off-peak and busy season
The last tour of the castle will be 4.30pm

Donegal Castle, Donegal Town.

Donegal Castle

Built by the O'Donnell chieftain in the 15th century, beside the River Eske, the Castle has extensive 17th-century additions by Sir Basil Brooke. The Castle is furnished throughout and includes Persian rugs and French tapestries. Information panels chronicle the history of the Castle owners from the O'Donnell chieftains to the Brooke family. Limited access for people with disabilities to the ground floor.
Location: In the centre of Donegal Town
Guided Tours:
Available every hour.
Max. No: 35
Duration: 30 mins
Leaflet/Guide Booklet: English, Irish, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
Easter - Mid September
Daily. 10.00 - 18.00
Mid-September - Easter
Thursday - Monday
09.30 - 16.30
Admission Fees
Adult: €5.00
Group/Senior: €4.00
Child/Student: €3.00
Family: €13.00


An Grianan Aileach, Burt.

An Grianan Aileach

The Stone Fort of Grianán of Aileach is sitting on a hilltop in Inishowen County Donegal. 250m above sea level, the stone fort was probably first built on an earthen rath.

The view from Aileach is breathtaking. The glistening waters of Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly are clear, as is the form of the entire peninsula. A windy and exposed place, Grianán has been a silent witness to the history of Ireland.

The origins of the Grianán of Aileach fort are dated back to 1700 BC. It is linked to the Tuatha de Danann who invaded Ireland before the Celts and built stone forts on top of strategic hills. They worshipped Dagda (the Good God) and he too is associated with the origins of Aileach. It was he who ordered the building of a stone fort to act as a burial monument to his dead son.

For more check out Go Visit Donegal

7 things to do this August Bank Holiday

1.     Mary From Dungloe International Festival

The Mary From Dungloe International Festival has been welcoming visitors from all over the world since its inception in 1967. The festival offers a wide range of entertainment during its 10-day fun packed itinerary. Dungloe and the surrounding area’s boasts some of the country’s finest beaches and landscapes and is a great base for exploring what the North West has to offer, including golf courses, horse riding, hill walking, lake and sea angling with some of the finest scenery in the world on our doorstep. 
For further festival information, visit: www.maryfromdungloe.com

2.     Féile an Earagail / Dunlewey Festival

This year Féile an Earagail, Dunlewey, will be held from 29th July – 6th August, and they are delighted to be hosting six fantastic walks which showcase the best of our landscape, heritage & culture. The programme is below and you can find more details on their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dunlewey/207014656005299
Event Programme

3.     Ballyshannon Folk & Traditional Music Festival

Ireland’s longest running Folk and Traditional music festival. Every August Bank Holiday weekend, Ballyshannon is the only place to be for a fantastic line up of the best of Folk and Traditional music Ireland has to offer. The ‘Folk Festival’ has hosted all of the great names from the Irish folk and trad scene since the heady days of the late 1970’s and continues today to offer itself as a vital platform for emerging folk and traditional music talent with the annual showcase competition which offers a prize fund of €1,000; plus the opportunity to perform at the festival.
In 2018 Ballyshannon Folk and Traditional Festival look forward to the marquee style festival, lively pub sessions, street entertainment, workshops, busking competitions, fringe events and ceilidh’s –  this leading festival still has something to cater for all tastes  41 years later – which is a testament to its adaptability!
For all the latest festival information, tickets and showcase competition details check out Facebook – Ballyshannon Folk and Traditional Music Festival or on www.ballyshannonfolkfestival.com
Ballyshannon F&T Music Festival

4.     Moville Festival

A summer celebration of Folk and Country music and local produce taking place on the banks of the Foyle. A variety of activities on land and water will keep everyone pleased. Check out the festival programme below.
For latest updates go to Facebook: www.facebook.com/movillefestival
Moville Festival Programme

5.     Glencolmcille Agricultural  Show

The Glencolmcille Agricultural Show or Taispeántais Ghleann Cholm Cille was first set in 1954 by Fr McDyer. In its heyday, the exhibition featured over 1600 entries in various categories, second only to the Balmoral Show in Belfast. Anyone interested in taking a stall for the 2018 show should contact the Glencolmcille Agricultural Show Committee for further details. Agricultural Show – showcasing livestock, arts and crafts, and traditional rural Donegal.
Live entertainment day and night, something for all the family.

Further details: www.glencolmcille.ie
Glencolmcille Agricultural Show

6.     Kilcar Fleadh

The Kilcar Fleadh organisers invite everyone to come to join them for a festival of traditional music, songs, and dance, celebrating the living heritage of traditional music in South West Donegal. The events will include Concerts, Ceili, Crossroads dance, ‘Echos in the Glen’ – a music recital featuring fiddles and pipes in the Gleann a’Bhaile Dubh, recreating a tradition from the first half of the 20th century. 
Kilcar Fleadh

7.     Clonmany Festival

Once again this family event is a week of summer fun for all ages. This is Ireland’s longest running and best-known family festival and is situated in the beautiful village of Clonmany in the Inishowen Peninsula.
Year after year thousands of holidaymakers and locals alike enjoy the many events, live music, natural beauty and facilities which go hand in hand with the festival. From raft races and cycling events to treasure hunts and talent competitions, the festival has something to offer everyone and is an event which you will find yourself returning to again and again.
Clonmany Festival line up 2018

For further details on what's going on around Donegal check out Donegal Gathering

Launching the Monty Halls Family Adventure Campaign in Donegal

'Donegal is a county on the veranda of Europe – where else can you stand with your heels on the edge of a mighty continent, and your toes in the edge of a mighty ocean?' 

Monty Hall’s sentiments clearly put County Donegal on the map and the launch of the Monty Halls family adventures in Donegal film series online, it is expected that Donegal will firmly take its rightful place amongst some of the most famous adventure destinations around the world.

Donegal has a magical effect on people; it draws them in and binds them together. People never forget their visit here. People who leave long to return. There is a genuine love for the place, some people visit and return later, some visit and never leave. It is easy to see within these films why Donegal is so appealing as a family friendly destination.

Monty Halls, his wife Tamsyn and daughters Molly and Isla have been travelling all over the county filming with their company Seadog Productions for almost a month. Donegal County Council’s, Tourism Unit initiated this marketing campaign and the goal is to promote Donegal as an adventure destination with experiences to suit all the family. Landrover and Brig rib boats are also co-sponsors.

Monty Halls with his family & the Seadog Productions Team filming on Rossnowlagh Beach, Co. Donegal.
Image © Seadog Productions, www.seadogproductions.co.uk

The campaign would not have been possible without the help and support from local businesses across the county, too many to list individually but without them this campaign would not happen.

Monty is well known for his BBC2 series ‘Great Escapes’ and he also presented the multi-award winning series ‘Great Barrier Reef’. Monty has also worked with Channel 4, National Geographic, the History Channel, Channel 5, and the BBC. His most recent work is on WWII's Great Escapes: The Freedom Trails. 

The films are emotive and they connect the viewer with the very heart of Donegal and all that it means to feel connected to the people and places, they bond the viewer to Donegal in a really unique way that has special meaning. There is no doubt that these films will reach and inspire many people around the world.

Donegal - The Halls Family Adventure
Chapter One - Céad Míle Fáilte | A hundred thousand welcomes

For more details check out our website: www.govisitdonegal.com

For more information about Donegal County Council visit:

For more information on Monty Halls visit:

For more information on Seadog Productions visit:

Watch video on YouTube

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hailed as a game changer for Donegal

9 July 2018

Press release

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hailed as a game changer for Donegal

Rory McIlroy checking out painting by local artist Sharon McDaid which was presented to him on Sunday in recognition of his role in hosting the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in Ballyliffin by Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr. Seamus O’Domhnaill

The hosting of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in Ballyliffin Golf Club has been hailed as a game changer by Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr. Seamus O’Domhnaill who said Ballyliffin Golf Club and the people of Inishowen have succeeded in hosting one of the most splendid Irish Open’s in recent history.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for Ballyliffin Golf Club and the people of Inishowen to showcase this stunning location to a global audience of almost half a billion people and they surpassed all expectations”. 

“Almost 95,000 visited Ballyliffin over the five days of the tournament and I have no doubt that this will leave a remarkable legacy for everyone involved.  I firmly believe that this is a game changer for Inishowen, for Donegal and for the North West region” said Cllr O’Domhnaill.

“I would like to thank the team at European Tours and of course Dubai Duty Free for their confidence and belief in Ballyliffin as an ideal location for this year’s tournament.  This endorsement certainly paid off not just in terms of the record number of visiting fans but also in the quality of golf played at what is now known as one of the best links courses in the country.”

Cllr. Seamus O’Domhnaill, Cathaoirleach Donegal County Council presenting Rory McIlroy with painting by local artist Sharon McDaid in recognition of hosting the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in Ballyliffin with Colm McLaughlin, CEO of Dubai Duty Free.  Also in the picture John Farren, Ballyliffin Golf Club, Paddy McDermott, Captian, Ballyliffin Golf Club, Seamus Neely, Donegal County Council, Simon Ellis, European Tours and Cllr. Martin McDermott.

Cllr. O’Domhnaill believes that the underlying secret to the success of this year’s tournament is collaboration and everyone working together for one unifying goal of making this event an outstanding success not just for the organisers but for the people of Inishowen and Donegal.

“We have a tradition in this part of the world of working together, of supporting each other and of valuing our strong community spirit and this was never more evident than in Donegal and especially in Inishowen over the last number of months.  I would like to acknowledge and thank all the agencies who worked together to make this happen especially An Garda Síochána, Fáilte Ireland, Derry City and Strabane District Council and indeed Donegal County Council”. 

“I would also like to acknowledge the work done by local communities and businesses right across Inishowen.  It was clear for everyone to see as they drove through Inishowen over the last few days the pride that local people have in their own communities.  I would also like to give a special mention to the staff of Donegal County Council, especially the local roads teams who worked around the clock to make sure that the peninsula was ready for this event and again their efforts certainly paid off”.

Pictured at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in Ballyliffen on Sunday are elected members of Inishowen MD with Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council Cllr. Seamus O’Domhnaill, Chair of Inishowen MD Cllr. Martin Farren, Deputy Charlie McConalogue TD, Seamus Neely and Liam Ward Donegal County Council.
“Finally, I would like to acknowledge the work of John Farren and the members of Ballyliffin Golf Club.  They had the foresight, the belief and the ambition to host this world class event and this did not just happen overnight.  They have worked for years to achieve this and I know that they want to build on this and to continue to host events of this stature at this stunning location”. 
Cllr. Seamus O’Domhnaill, Cathaoirleach Donegal County Council presenting Rory McIlroy with painting by local artist Sharon McDaid in recognition of hosting the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in Ballyliffin with Seamus Neely, Chief Executive Donegal County Council.

To mark the occasion of the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in Ballyliffin, the Cathaoirleach, on behalf of Donegal County Council presented both Rory McIlroy, host of the tournament and Simon Ellis of European Tours with two paintings by local artist Sharon McDaid depicting the majesty of the Glashedy Links at Ballyliffin.  John Farren, Manager of Ballyliffin Golf Club was also presented with a lovely piece named ‘Island of Green Cloak’ by Carndonagh based artist Ben Holmes in recognition of his important role in securing and hosting this prestigious event in Ballyliffin.

For all things Donegal visit: www.govisitdonegal.com