County Donegal

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County Donegal

Contae Dhún na nGall / Contae Thír Chonaill
Coontie Dunnygal / Coontie Dinnygal
Donegal CoCo COA.png
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): 
The Forgotten County
Motto(s): 
Mutuam habeatis caritatem  (Latin)
"Have love for one another"
Island of Ireland location map Donegal.svg
Location in Ireland, indicated in darker green
Coordinates: 54°55′01″N8°00′00″W / 54.917°N 8.000°W / 54.917; -8.000 Coordinates: 54°55′01″N8°00′00″W / 54.917°N 8.000°W / 54.917; -8.000
CountryIreland
Province Ulster
Dáil Éireann Donegal
Sligo–Leitrim
EU Parliament Midlands–North-West
Established1607 [1]
County town Lifford
Government
  Type County Council
Area
  Total4,861 km2 (1,877 sq mi)
Area rank  4th
Highest elevation751 m (2,464 ft)
Population
 (2016) [2]
159,192
  Rank  13th
Time zone UTC±0 (WET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing keys
F92, F93, F94
Telephone area codes 074 (primarily)
Vehicle index
mark code
DL
Website www.donegal.ie
Coontie Dunnygal [3] [4] and Coontie Dinnygal [5] are Ulster Scots spellings.

County Donegal ( /ˌdʌniˈɡɔːl, ˈdʌniɡɔːl/ dun-ee-GAWL, DUN-ee-gawl; Irish : Contae Dhún na nGall) [6] is a county of Ireland in the province of Ulster. It is named after the town of Donegal (Irish : Dún na nGall, meaning "fort of the foreigners" [7] ) in the south of the county. Donegal County Council is the local council and Lifford the county town.

Irish language Gaelic language spoken in Ireland and by Irish people

Irish is a Goidelic language of the Celtic and Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of habitual but non-traditional speakers across the country. A speaker of the Irish language is known as a Gaeilgeoir.

Counties of Ireland Administrative division of Ireland, historically 32 in number

The counties of Ireland are sub-national divisions that have been, and in some cases continue to be, used to geographically demarcate areas of local government. These land divisions were formed following the Norman invasion of Ireland in imitation of the counties then in use as units of local government in the Kingdom of England. The older term ‘shire’ was historically equivalent to ‘county’. The principal function of the county was to impose royal control in the areas of taxation, security and the administration of justice at the local level. Cambro-Norman control was initially limited to the southeastern parts of Ireland; a further four centuries elapsed before the entire island was shired. At the same time, the now obsolete concept of county corporate elevated a small number of towns and cities to a status which was deemed to be no less important than the existing counties in which they lay. This double control mechanism of 32 counties plus 10 counties corporate remained unchanged for a little over two centuries until the early 19th century. Since then, counties have been adapted and in some cases divided by legislation to meet new administrative and political requirements.

Contents

The population was 159,192 at the 2016 census. [2] It has also been known as (County) Tyrconnell (Tír Chonaill, meaning 'Land of Conall'), after the historic territory of the same name.

Conall Gulban was an Irish king and eponymous ancestor of the Cenél Conaill, who founded the kingdom of Tír Chonaill in the 5th century, comprising much of what is now County Donegal in Ulster. He was the son of Niall Noígiallach.

Tyrconnell

Tyrconnell, also spelled Tirconnell, was a kingdom of Gaelic Ireland, associated geographically with present-day County Donegal in Ulster, which has sometimes been called County Tyrconnell. At times it also included parts of County Fermanagh, County Sligo, County Leitrim, County Tyrone and County Londonderry at its greatest extent. The kingdom represented the core homeland of the Cenél Conaill people of the Northern Uí Néill and although they ruled, there were smaller groups of other Gaels in the area.

Geography and political subdivisions

In terms of size and area, it is the largest county in Ulster and the fourth-largest county in all of Ireland. Uniquely, County Donegal shares a small border with only one other county in the Republic of IrelandCounty Leitrim. The greater part of its land border is shared with three counties of Northern Ireland: County Londonderry, County Tyrone and County Fermanagh. This geographic isolation from the rest of the Republic has led to Donegal people maintaining a distinct cultural identity [8] and has been used to market the county with the slogan "Up here it's different". [9] While Lifford is the county town, Letterkenny is by far the largest town in the county with a population of 19,588. Letterkenny and the nearby city of Derry form the main economic axis of the northwest of Ireland. [10] Indeed, what became the City of Derry was officially part of County Donegal up until 1610. [11]

Ulster province in Ireland

Ulster is a province in the north of the island of Ireland. It is made up of nine counties: six of these constitute Northern Ireland ; the remaining three are in the Republic of Ireland. It is the second largest and second most populous of Ireland's four provinces, with Belfast being its biggest city. Unlike the other provinces, Ulster has a high percentage of Protestants, making up almost half of its population. English is the main language and Ulster English the main dialect. A minority also speak Irish, and there are Gaeltacht in southern Londonderry, the Gaeltacht Quarter of Belfast and in Donegal, where 25% of the total Gaeltacht population of Ireland is located. Lough Neagh, in the east, is the largest lake in the British Isles, while Lough Erne in the west is one of its largest lake networks. The main mountain ranges are the Mournes, Sperrins, Croaghgorms and Derryveagh Mountains.

Ireland Island in north-west Europe, 20th largest in world, politically divided into the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a part of the UK)

Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.

Republic of Ireland Country in Europe on the island of Ireland

Ireland, also known as the Republic of Ireland, is a country in north-western Europe occupying 26 of 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, which is located on the eastern side of the island. Around a third of the country's population of 4.8 million people resides in the greater Dublin area. The sovereign state shares its only land border with Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. It is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Celtic Sea to the south, St George's Channel to the south-east, and the Irish Sea to the east. It is a unitary, parliamentary republic. The legislature, the Oireachtas, consists of a lower house, Dáil Éireann, an upper house, Seanad Éireann, and an elected President who serves as the largely ceremonial head of state, but with some important powers and duties. The head of government is the Taoiseach, who is elected by the Dáil and appointed by the President; the Taoiseach in turn appoints other government ministers.

Baronies

Poison Glen (Gleann Nimhe), in North West Donegal Dun Luiche Cro Nimhe 2017 09 05.jpg
Poison Glen (Gleann Nimhe), in North West Donegal

There are eight historic baronies in the county:

Banagh is a historic barony in County Donegal in Ireland. Patrick Weston Joyce said the name Banagh came from Enna Bogaine, son of Conall Gulban, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages. It was created along with Boylagh when the former barony of Boylagh and Banagh was split in 1791 by an Act of the Parliament of Ireland.

Boylagh is a historic barony in County Donegal in Ireland. Patrick Weston Joyce said the name Boylagh comes from the territory of the O'Boyles. It was created along with Banagh when the former barony of Boylagh and Banagh was split in 1791 by an Act of the Parliament of Ireland.

Kilmacrennan Village in Ulster, Ireland

Kilmacrennan is a small village in County Donegal, Ireland. The village population was 753, as of the 2016 census. The village's population has increased steadily over the last decade with many new housing developments catering, in particular, for overspill population from Letterkenny. Kilmacrennan was historically the caput of its eponymous Barony of Kilmacrennan, of the eight Baronies of Donegal.

Informal districts

The county may be informally divided into a number of traditional districts. There are two Gaeltacht districts in the west: The Rosses (Irish : Na Rosa), centred on the town of Dungloe (Irish : An Clochán Liath), and Gweedore (Irish : Gaoth Dobhair). Another Gaeltacht district is located in the north-west: Cloughaneely (Irish : Cloich Chionnaola), centred on the town of Falcarragh (Irish : An Fál Carrach). The most northerly part of the island of Ireland is the location for three peninsulas: Inishowen, Fanad and Rosguill. The main population centre of Inishowen, Ireland's largest peninsula, is Buncrana. In the east of the county lies the Finn Valley (centred on Ballybofey). The Laggan district (not to be confused with the Lagan Valley in the south of County Antrim) is centred on the town of Raphoe.

Gaeltacht primarily Irish-speaking region in Ireland

Gaeltacht is an Irish-language word for any primarily Irish-speaking region. In Ireland, the term Gaeltacht refers individually to any, or collectively to all, of the districts where the government recognises that the Irish language is the predominant vernacular, or language of the home.

The Rosses

The Rosses is a geographical and social region in the west of County Donegal, Ireland, with a population of over 7,000 centred on the town of Dungloe, which acts as the educational, shopping and civil centre for the area. Defined by physical boundaries in the form of rivers, as well as history and language use, the area has a distinctive identity, separate from the rest of Donegal. The extensive region lies between the parish of Gweedore to the north and the town of Glenties to the south. A large part of the Rosses is in the Gaeltacht, which means that Irish is the spoken language. The Rosses, Cloughaneely and Gweedore, known locally as "the three parishes" with 16,000 Irish speakers, together form a social and cultural region different from the rest of the county, with Gweedore serving as the main centre for socialising and industry. Gaeltacht an Láir is another Irish-speaking area.

Dungloe Town in Ulster, Ireland

An Clochán Liath is a Gaeltacht town in County Donegal, Ireland. It is the main town in The Rosses and the largest in the Donegal Gaeltacht. Dungloe developed as a town in the middle of the 18th century, and now serves as the administrative and retail centre for the west of County Donegal, and in particular The Rosses, with the only mainland secondary school for the area.

As seen from the International Space Station: Ulster coastline including Fanad peninsula, Lough Swilly, Inishowen, Lough Foyle and County Londonderry Derry from the International Space Station 2013-03-17.jpg
As seen from the International Space Station: Ulster coastline including Fanad peninsula, Lough Swilly, Inishowen, Lough Foyle and County Londonderry

Demographics

According to the 1841 Census, County Donegal had a population of 296,000 people. As a result of famine and emigration, the population had reduced by 41,000 by 1851 and further reduced by 18,000 by 1861. By the time of the 1951 Census the population was only 44% of what it had been in 1841. [18] As of 2016, the county's population was 159,192. [2]

Largest towns

TownPopulation (2016 Census)
Letterkenny 19,274
Buncrana 6,785
Ballybofey/Stranorlar 4,852
Donegal Town 2,618
Carndonagh 2,471
Ballyshannon 2,299
Bundoran 1,963
Lifford 1,626
Convoy 1,526
Bunbeg/Derrybeg 1,491 [19]
Moville 1,480
Ramelton 1,266
Killybegs 1,236
Muff 1,226
Dungloe 1,164
Raphoe 1,089
Newtown Cunningham 1,080
Milford 1,037

Physical geography

Horse riding on Tramore Beach in Downings Donegal beaches (2579124526).jpg
Horse riding on Tramore Beach in Downings
Slieve League cliffs, the second tallest in Ireland SlieveLeague ToneMapped.jpg
Slieve League cliffs, the second tallest in Ireland
Glengesh Pass, near Ardara Glengesh Pass.jpg
Glengesh Pass, near Ardara
Map of County Donegal Donegalmap.jpg
Map of County Donegal

The county is the most mountainous in Ulster consisting chiefly of two ranges of low mountains; the Derryveagh Mountains in the north and the Blue Stack Mountains in the south, with Errigal at 749 metres (2,457 ft) the highest peak. It has a deeply indented coastline forming natural sea loughs, of which both Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle are the most notable. The Slieve League cliffs are the sixth-highest sea cliffs in Europe, while Malin Head is the most northerly point on the island of Ireland.

The climate is temperate and dominated by the Gulf Stream, with warm, damp summers and mild wet winters. Two permanently inhabited islands, Arranmore and Tory Island, lie off the coast, along with a large number of islands with only transient inhabitants. Ireland's second longest river, the Erne, enters Donegal Bay near the town of Ballyshannon. The River Erne, along with other Donegal waterways, has been dammed to produce hydroelectric power. The River Foyle separates part of County Donegal from parts of both counties Londonderry and Tyrone.

Botany

A survey of the macroscopic marine algae of County Donegal was published in 2003. [20] The survey was compiled using the algal records held in the herbaria of the following institutions: the Ulster Museum, Belfast; Trinity College, Dublin; NUI Galway, and the Natural History Museum, London. Records of flowering plants include Dactylorhiza purpurella (Stephenson and Stephenson) Soó. [21]

Zoology

The animals included in the county include the European badger (Meles meles L.). [22]

There are habitats for the rare corn crake (Crex crex) in the county. [23]

History

Neolithic portal tomb at Kilclooney More KilclooneyDolmen1986.jpg
Neolithic portal tomb at Kilclooney More

At various times in its history, it has been known as County Tirconaill, County Tirconnell or County Tyrconnell (Irish : Tír Chonaill). The former was used as its official name during 1922–1927. [24] This is in reference to both the old túath of Tír Chonaill and the earldom that succeeded it.

County Donegal was the home of the once mighty Clann Dálaigh, whose best known branch were the Clann Ó Domhnaill, better known in English as the O'Donnell dynasty. Until around 1600, the O'Donnells were one of Ireland's richest and most powerful native Irish ruling families. Within Ulster, only the Uí Néill (known in English as the O'Neill Clan) of modern County Tyrone were more powerful. The O'Donnells were Ulster's second most powerful clan or ruling-family from the early 13th century through to the start of the 17th century. For several centuries the O'Donnells ruled Tír Chonaill, a Gaelic kingdom in West Ulster that covered almost all of modern County Donegal. The head of the O'Donnell family had the titles An Ó Domhnaill (meaning The O'Donnell in English) and Rí Thír Chonaill (meaning King of Tír Chonaill in English). Based at Donegal Castle in Dún na nGall (modern Donegal), the O'Donnell Kings of Tír Chonaill were traditionally inaugurated at Doon Rock near Kilmacrennan. O'Donnell royal or chiefly power was finally ended in what was then the newly created County Donegal in September 1607, following the Flight of the Earls from near Rathmullan. The modern County Arms of Donegal (dating from the early 1970s) was influenced by the design of the old O'Donnell royal arms. The County Arms is the official coat of arms of both County Donegal and Donegal County Council.

Donegal Castle, former seat of the O'Donnell dynasty Donegalcastle.jpg
Donegal Castle, former seat of the O'Donnell dynasty

The modern County Donegal was shired [25] by order of the English Crown in 1585. The English authorities at Dublin Castle formed the new county by amalgamating the old Kingdom of Tír Chonaill with the old Lordship of Inishowen. However, although detachments of the Royal Irish Army were stationed there, the Dublin authorities were unable to establish control over Tír Chonaill and Inishowen until after the Battle of Kinsale in 1602. Full control over the new County Donegall was only achieved after the Flight of the Earls in September 1607. It was the centre of O'Doherty's Rebellion of 1608 with the key Battle of Kilmacrennan taking place there. The county was one of those 'planted' during the Plantation of Ulster from around 1610 onwards. What became the City of Derry was officially part of County Donegal up until 1610. [11]

County Donegal was one of the worst affected parts of Ulster during the Great Famine of the late 1840s in Ireland. Vast swathes of the county were devastated by this catastrophe, many areas becoming permanently depopulated. Vast numbers of County Donegal's people emigrated at this time, chiefly through Foyle Port.

The Partition of Ireland in the early 1920s had a massive direct impact on County Donegal. Partition cut the county off, economically and administratively, from Derry, which had acted for centuries as the county's main port, transport hub and financial centre. Derry, together with west Tyrone, was henceforward in a new, different jurisdiction officially called Northern Ireland. Partition also meant that County Donegal was now almost entirely cut off from the rest of the jurisdiction in which it now found itself, the new dominion called the Irish Free State, which in April 1949 became the Republic of Ireland. Only a few miles of the county is physically connected by land to the rest of the Republic. The existence of a border cutting Donegal off from her natural hinterlands in Derry City and West Tyrone greatly exacerbated the economic difficulties of the county after partition. The county's economy is particularly susceptible, just like that of Derry City, to the currency fluctuations of the Euro against sterling.

Added to all this, in the late 20th century County Donegal was adversely affected by The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The county suffered several bombings and assassinations. In June 1987, Constable Samuel McClean, a Donegal man who was a serving member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, was shot dead by the Provisional Irish Republican Army at his family home near Drumkeen. In May 1991, the prominent Sinn Féin politician Councillor Eddie Fullerton was assassinated by the Ulster Defence Association at his home in Buncrana. This added further to the economic and social difficulties of the county. However, the greater economic and administrative integration following the Good Friday Agreement of April 1998 has been of benefit to the county.

It has been labelled the 'forgotten county' by its own politicians, owing to the perception that it is ignored by the Government of Ireland, even in times of crisis. [26] [27]

Irish language

Road signs in Irish in the Gweedore Gaeltacht. Bunbeg - R258 - geograph.org.uk - 1177841.jpg
Road signs in Irish in the Gweedore Gaeltacht.

The Donegal Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area) is the second-largest in Ireland. The version of the Irish language spoken in County Donegal is Ulster Irish.

Of the Gaeltacht population of 24,744, 16% of the county's total population, 17,132 say they can speak Irish. [28] There are three Irish-speaking parishes: Gweedore, The Rosses and Cloughaneely. Other Irish-speaking areas include Gaeltacht an Láir: Glencolmcille, Fintown, Fanad and Rosguill, the islands of Arranmore, Tory Island and Inishbofin. Gweedore is the largest Irish-speaking parish, with over 5,000 inhabitants. All schools in the region use Irish as the language of instruction. One of the constituent colleges of NUI Galway, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, is based in Gweedore.

Outside the Gaeltacht, over 1,000 students attend the five Irish-medium primary schools (Gaelscoileanna) and two Irish-medium secondary schools (Gaelcholáistí). The 2006 census reported 7,218 people outside the Gaeltacht who identified as being daily Irish speakers.

Government and politics

Glenveagh Castle. Glenveagh Castle - geograph.org.uk - 395086.jpg
Glenveagh Castle.

Donegal County Council (which has officially been in existence since 1899) has responsibility for local administration, and is headquartered at the County House in Lifford. Until 2014, there were also Town Councils in Letterkenny, Bundoran, Ballyshannon and Buncrana. The Town Councils were abolished in June 2014 when the Local Government Reform Act 2014 was implemented [29] and their functions were taken over by Donegal County Council. Elections to the County Council take place every five years. Thirty seven councillors are elected using the system of proportional representation-Single Transferable Vote (STV). For the purpose of elections the county is divided into 5 Municipal Districts comprising the following local electoral areas: Donegal (6), Glenties (6), Inishowen (9), Letterkenny (10) and Stranorlar (6).

For general elections, the county-wide constituency elects five representatives to Dáil Éireann. For elections to the European Parliament, the county is part of the Midlands–North-West constituency.

Voters have a reputation nationally for being "conservative and contrarian", the county having achieved prominence for having rejected the Fiscal Treaty in 2012 and both the Treaty of Lisbon votes. [30] In 2018, Donegal was the only county in Ireland to vote against repealing the 8th Amendment, which banned access to abortion.

Freedom of Donegal

The Freedom of Donegal is an award that is given to people who have been recognised for outstanding achievements on behalf of the people and County Donegal. Such people include Daniel O'Donnell, Phil Coulter, Shay Given, Packie Bonner, Pat Crerand, Seamus Coleman and the Brennan family. In 2009 the members of the 28th Infantry Battalion of the Irish Defence Forces were also awarded the Freedom of the County from Donegal County Council "in recognition of their longstanding service to the County of Donegal".

Access

An extensive rail network used to exist throughout the county and was mainly operated by the County Donegal Railways Joint Committee and the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company (known as the L. & L.S.R. or the Lough Swilly Company for short). Unfortunately all these lines were laid to a 3-foot gauge where the connecting lines were all laid to the Irish standard gauge of 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in). This meant that all goods had to be transhipped at Derry and Strabane. Like all narrow gauge railways this became a major handicap after World War 1 when road transport began to seriously erode the railways goods traffic.

By 1953 the Lough Swilly had closed its entire railway system and become a bus and road haulage concern. The County Donegal lasted until 1960 as it had largely dieselised its passenger trains by 1951. By the late 1950s major work was required to upgrade the track and the Irish Government was unwilling to supply the necessary funds, so 'the Wee Donegal', as it was affectionally known, was closed in 1960. The Great Northern Railway (the G.N.R.) also ran a line from Strabane through The Laggan, a district in the east of the county, along the River Foyle into Derry. However, the railway network within County Donegal was completely closed by 1960. [31] Today, the closest railway station to the county is Waterside Station in the City of Derry, which is operated by Northern Ireland Railways (N.I.R.). Train services along the Belfast–Derry railway line run, via Coleraine railway station, to Belfast Central and Belfast Great Victoria Street railway stations.

County Donegal is served by both Donegal Airport, located at Carrickfinn in The Rosses in the west of the county, and by City of Derry Airport, located at Eglinton to the east. The nearest main international airport to the county is Belfast International Airport (popularly known as Aldergrove Airport), which is located to the east at Aldergrove, near Antrim Town, in County Antrim, 92 km (57 mi) from Derry City and 127 km (79 mi) from Letterkenny.

Culture

The Iron Age fortress Grianan of Aileach (Irish: Grianan Ailigh
). Griahan of aileach.jpg
The Iron Age fortress Grianan of Aileach (Irish : Grianán Ailigh).

The variant of the Irish language spoken in Donegal shares many traits with Scottish Gaelic. The Irish spoken in the Donegal Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area) is of the Ulster dialect, while Inishowen (parts of which only became English-speaking in the early 20th century) used the East Ulster dialect. Ulster Scots is often spoken in both the Finn Valley and The Laggan district of East Donegal. Donegal Irish has a strong influence on learnt Irish across Ulster.

Like other areas on the western seaboard of Ireland, Donegal has a distinctive fiddle tradition which is of world renown. Donegal is also well known for its songs which have, like the instrumental music, a distinctive sound. Donegal musical artists such as the bands Clannad, The Pattersons, and Altan and solo artist Enya, have had international success with traditional or traditional flavoured music. Donegal music has also influenced people not originally from the county including folk and pop singers Paul Brady and Phil Coulter. Singer Daniel O'Donnell has become a popular ambassador for the county. Popular music is also common, the county's most acclaimed rock artist being the Ballyshannon-born Rory Gallagher. Other acts to come out of Donegal include folk-rock band Goats Don't Shave, Eurovision contestant Mickey Joe Harte and indie rock group The Revs and in more recent years bands such as In Their Thousands and Mojo Gogo have featured on the front page of Hot Press magazine.

Errigal towers over Gweedore and Cloughaneely. The former Church of Ireland church (now ruined) at Dunlewey can be seen in the foreground. The church was built in the early 1850s. Dunlewy - Derelict church with walled yard and gate - geograph.org.uk - 1190473.jpg
Errigal towers over Gweedore and Cloughaneely. The former Church of Ireland church (now ruined) at Dunlewey can be seen in the foreground. The church was built in the early 1850s.
Kinnagoe Bay, Inishowen. Kinnagoe Shore.jpg
Kinnagoe Bay, Inishowen.
Cut turf between Carndonagh and Redcastle. Cutting the peat on the side of Lough Fad - geograph.org.uk - 51748.jpg
Cut turf between Carndonagh and Redcastle.

Donegal has a long literary tradition in both Irish and English. The Irish navvy-turned-novelist Patrick MacGill, author of many books about the experiences of Irish migrant itinerant labourers in Britain at around the start of the 20th century, such as The Rat Pit and the autobiographical Children of the Dead End, is from the Glenties area. There is a literary summer school in Glenties named in his honour. The novelist and socialist politician Peadar O'Donnell hailed from The Rosses in west Donegal. The poet William Allingham was also from Ballyshannon. Modern exponents include the Inishowen playwright and poet Frank McGuinness and the playwright Brian Friel. Many of Friel's plays are set in the fictional Donegal town of Ballybeg.

Authors in Donegal have been creating works, like the Annals of the Four Masters , in Irish and Latin since the Early Middle Ages. The Irish philosopher John Toland was born in Inishowen in 1670. He was thought of as the original freethinker by George Berkeley. Toland was also instrumental in the spread of freemasonry throughout Continental Europe. In modern Irish, Donegal has produced a number of (sometimes controversial), authors such as the brothers Séamus Ó Grianna and Seosamh Mac Grianna from The Rosses and the contemporary (and controversial) Irish-language poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh from Gortahork in Cloughaneely, and where he is known to locals as Gúrú na gCnoc "Guru of the Hills".

Donegal is known for its textiles, whose unique woolen blends are made of short threads with tiny bits of color blended in for a heathered effect. Sometimes they are woven in a rustic herringbone format and other times in more of a box weave of varied colors. These weaves are known as donegal tweeds (with a small 'd') and are world renowned.

Although approximately 85% of its population is Roman Catholic,[ citation needed ] County Donegal also has a sizeable minority of Ulster Protestants. Many Donegal Protestants trace their ancestors to settlers who arrived during the Plantation of Ulster in the early 17th century. The Church of Ireland is the largest Protestant denomination but is closely rivalled by a large number of Presbyterians. The areas of Donegal with the highest percentage of Protestants are The Laggan area of East Donegal around Raphoe, the Finn Valley and areas around Ramelton, Milford and Dunfanaghy – where their proportion reaches up to 30–45 percent. There is also a large Protestant population between Donegal Town and Ballyshannon in the south of the county. In absolute terms, Letterkenny has the largest number of Protestants (over 1000) and is the most Presbyterian town (among those settlements with more than 3000 people) in the Republic of Ireland.[ citation needed ]

The Earagail Arts Festival is held within the county each July.

People from Donegal have also contributed to culture elsewhere. Francis Alison was one of the founders of the College of Philadelphia, which would later become the University of Pennsylvania. [33] Francis Makemie (originally from Ramelton) founded the Presbyterian Church in America. David Steele, from Upper Creevaugh, was a prominent Reformed Presbyterian, or Covenanter, minister who emigrated to the United States in 1824. Charles Inglis, who was the first Church of England bishop of the Diocese of Nova Scotia, was the third son of Archibald Inglis, the Rector in Glencolmcille.

Places of interest

Glenveagh. Glenveagh National Park (2579034038).jpg
Glenveagh.

Donegal was voted number 1 on The National Geographic Traveller (UK) 'cool list' for 2017, [34] and the area's attractions include Glenveagh National Park (formerly part of the Glenveagh Estate), the only official national park anywhere in the Province of Ulster.[ citation needed ] The park is a 140 km² (about 35,000 acre) nature reserve with scenery of mountains, raised boglands, lakes and woodlands. At its heart is Glenveagh Castle, a late Victorian 'folly' that was originally built as a summer residence.

Fintown Railway on the track of County Donegal Railways Joint Committee next to Lough Finn near Fintown railway station. Fintown Railway on trackbed of CDR County Donegal Railway, Lough Finn (5951398952).jpg
Fintown Railway on the track of County Donegal Railways Joint Committee next to Lough Finn near Fintown railway station.

The Donegal Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking district) also attracts young people to County Donegal each year during the school summer holidays. The three-week-long summer Gaeltacht courses give young Irish people from other parts of the country a chance to learn the Irish language and traditional Irish cultural traditions that are still prevalent in parts of Donegal. The Donegal Gaeltacht has traditionally been a very popular destination each summer for young people from Northern Ireland. [35] Scuba diving is also very popular with a club being located in Donegal Town.

Education

Higher education within the county is provided by Letterkenny Institute of Technology (L.Y.I.T.; popularly known locally as 'the Regional'), established in the 1970s in Letterkenny. In addition, many young people from the county attend third-level institutions elsewhere in Ireland, especially in Derry and also at the Ulster University at Coleraine (U.U.C.), Ulster University at Jordanstown (U.U.J.), Queen's University Belfast ('Queen's'), and NUI Galway. Many Donegal students also attend the Limavady Campus of the North West Regional College (popularly known as Limavady Tech) and the Omagh College of Further Education of South West College (popularly known as Omagh Tech or Omagh College).

Sport

Gaoth Dobhair GAA grounds. Clgghaothdobhair.jpg
Gaoth Dobhair GAA grounds.

Gaelic football and hurling

The Gaelic Athletic Association (G.A.A.) sport of Gaelic football is very popular in County Donegal. Donegal's inter-county football team have won the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship title twice (in 1992 and 2012) and the Ulster Senior Football Championship ten times. Donegal emerged victorious from the 2012 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final on 23 September 2012 to take the Sam Maguire Cup for only the second time, with early goals from Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden setting up victory of 2–11 to 0–13 over Mayo. In 2007, Donegal won only their second national title by winning the National Football League. On 24 April 2011, Donegal added their third national title when they defeated Laois to capture the National Football League Division Two, they added another Division Two title in 2019. There are 16 clubs in the Donegal Senior Football Championship, with many others playing at a lower level. [36]

Hurling (often called 'hurley' within County Donegal), handball and rounders are also played but are less widespread, as in other parts of western Ulster. The Donegal county senior hurling team won the Lory Meagher Cup in 2011 and the Nicky Rackard Cup in 2013.

Rugby Union

There are several rugby teams in the county. These include Ulster Qualifying League Two side Letterkenny RFC, whose ground is named after Dave Gallaher, the captain of the 1905 New Zealand All Blacks touring team, who have since become known as The Originals. He was born in nearby Ramelton.

Ulster Qualifying League Three sides include Ballyshannon RFC, Donegal Town RFC and Inishowen RFC. Finn Valley RFC and Tir Chonaill RFC both compete in the Ulster Minor League North.

Association football

Finn Harps play in the League of Ireland and won promotion to the Premier Division in 2015 following a 2-1 aggregate win over Limerick F.C. in the playoff final. They retained their status in the Premier Division in the 2016 season. Harps' main rivals are Derry City F.C., with whom they contest Ireland's North-West Derby. Finn Harps are Donegal's only League of Ireland club, with the county's other clubs playing in either the Ulster Senior League or the local junior leagues.

Golf

There are a number of golf courses such as Ballyliffin Golf Club, located in the Inishowen peninsula. Other courses of note are Murvagh (located outside Donegal Town) and Rosapenna (Sandy Hills) located in Downings (near Carrigart). The Glashedy Links has been ranked 6th in a recent ranking taken by Golf Digest on the best courses in Ireland. The Old links was ranked 28th, Murvagh 36th and Sandy Hills 38th.

Bundoran is regarded as one of the best surfing spots in Ireland and Europe. Bundoran Strand, Co. Donegal.jpg
Bundoran is regarded as one of the best surfing spots in Ireland and Europe.

Cricket

Cricket is chiefly confined to The Laggan district and the Finn Valley in the east of the county. The town of Raphoe and the nearby village of St Johnston, both in The Laggan, are the traditional strongholds of cricket within the county. The game is mainly played and followed by members of the Ulster Protestants of Co. Donegal. St Johnston Cricket Club play in the North West Senior League, while Letterkenny Cricket Club play in the Derry Midweek League. [37]

Other sports

Donegal's rugged landscape and coastline lends itself to active sports like climbing, mountain biking, hillwalking, surfing and kite-flying.

Sommet Mont Errigal.jpg
Panoramic view of Errigal's summit.

People

See also

Related Research Articles

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Inishowen peninsula in Ireland

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Donegal (town) Town in County Donegal, Ulster, Ireland

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River Foyle river in Ireland

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Stranorlar Town in Ulster, Ireland

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Raphoe Town in Ulster, Ireland

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Roman Catholic Diocese of Raphoe diocese of the Catholic Church

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St Johnston Village in Ulster, Ireland

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Porthall Town in Ulster, Ireland

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Killygordon Village in Ulster, Ireland

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Further reading