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County Donegal

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© Lonely Planet Publications
503

County Donegal
You could spend weeks losing yourself in wild and woolly Donegal. The county’s stark
beauty captivates you and, over time, seeps down to your core. Tortuous country roads
skirt stark mountains, rugged sea cliffs, craggy peninsulas, remote Gaeltacht communities,
sheep-studded pastures, pristine strands, icy streams and horizons carpeted with bog and
heather. Reaching up to the island’s northernmost point, the county seems eternally braced
to hold its own on its own. For although political and economic turmoil have eased off, the
county endures its fair share of Atlantic squalls to stave off complacency.
Due to its isolation, Ireland’s second-largest county (only Cork is larger) feels like its own
country. It was severed from its traditional province when most of Ulster became Northern
Ireland, and it is cut off from the rest of the Republic by the extended finger of County
Fermanagh. Donegal was always a stubbornly independent land, largely ignored by those
in Dublin’s distant driving seat.

HIGHLIGHTS

Malin Head

„ Multifaceted Natural Beauty The surf, cliffs,

hills and forests of Dunfanaghy (p524)
„ Take to the Hills The alpine magic around

Dunfanaghy

the Glen Gesh Pass (p516)

Grianán of
Aileách

„ Wild Isolation Dramatic end-of-the-earth

scenery at Malin Head (p537)
„ Clifftop Vertigo Europe’s highest sea cliffs,

Slieve League (p514)
„ Ancient Encounter The views from Grianán

of Aileách (p540) hilltop ringfort

„ POPULATION: 147,250

Slieve
League

Glen Gesh
Pass

„ AREA: 3001 SQ KM

COUNTY DONEGAL

The Donegal experience is largely about weather, for here there’s no need to set sail to
brave the sea – the sea charges ashore and its mists ride stiff winds over fields and into
the towns. Storms arrive unannounced, and just as abruptly break into brilliant sunshine,
transforming the blue and grey into sparkling greenery. When the weather is kind, Donegal’s
better beach resorts can rival any in Europe, and make perfect destinations for a summer
getaway. Once you’ve attained the proper come-what-may attitude, you’ll know you’ve been
tamed by this uncompromising land.

504 C O U N T Y D O N E G A L • • H i s t o r y

History
Donegal is covered with pre-Christian tombs
and other prehistoric titbits dating back as
much as 9000 years. The arrival of the Celts
and their fort-building endeavours provided
the origins of the county’s Irish name, Dun
na nGall (Fort of the Foreigner). Christianity
is also a str...
COUNTY DONEGAL
You could spend weeks losing yourself in wild and woolly Donegal. The county’s stark
beauty captivates you and, over time, seeps down to your core. Tortuous country roads
skirt stark mountains, rugged sea cliffs, craggy peninsulas, remote Gaeltacht communities,
sheep-studded pastures, pristine strands, icy streams and horizons carpeted with bog and
heather. Reaching up to the island’s northernmost point, the county seems eternally braced
to hold its own on its own. For although political and economic turmoil have eased off, the
county endures its fair share of Atlantic squalls to stave off complacency.
Due to its isolation, Ireland’s second-largest county (only Cork is larger) feels like its own
country. It was severed from its traditional province when most of Ulster became Northern
Ireland, and it is cut off from the rest of the Republic by the extended finger of County
Fermanagh. Donegal was always a stubbornly independent land, largely ignored by those
in Dublin’s distant driving seat.
The Donegal experience is largely about weather, for here there’s no need to set sail to
brave the sea – the sea charges ashore and its mists ride stiff winds over fields and into
the towns. Storms arrive unannounced, and just as abruptly break into brilliant sunshine,
transforming the blue and grey into sparkling greenery. When the weather is kind, Donegal’s
better beach resorts can rival any in Europe, and make perfect destinations for a summer
getaway. Once you’ve attained the proper come-what-may attitude, you’ll know you’ve been
tamed by this uncompromising land.
County Donegal
POPULATION: 147,250 AREA : 3001 SQ KM
HIGHLIGHTS
Multifaceted Natural Beauty The surf, cliffs,
hills and forests of Dunfanaghy ( p524 )
Take to the Hills The alpine magic around
the Glen Gesh Pass ( p516 )
Wild Isolation Dramatic end-of-the-earth
scenery at Malin Head ( p537 )
Clifftop Vertigo Europe’s highest sea cliffs,
Slieve League ( p514 )
Ancient Encounter The views from Grianán
of Aileách ( p540 ) hilltop ringfort
Dunfanaghy
Aileách
Grianán of
Malin Head
League
Slieve
Pass
Glen Gesh
503
© Lonely Planet Publications
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