Dún na nGall
|— Town —|
|Dáil Éireann||Donegal South–West|
|Elevation||32 m (105 ft)|
|Irish Grid Reference||G924789|
|Dialing code||+353 74|
Donegal or Donegal Town (// or //; DUN-ə-GAWL; Irish: Dún na nGall, meaning "fort of the foreigners (i.e. the Vikings)") is a town in County Donegal, Ireland. The name was historically written in English as Dunnagall or Dunagall
Donegal gave its name to County Donegal, although Lifford is now the county town. Until the early 1600s, Donegal was the 'capital' of Tír Chonaill, a Gaelic kingdom controlled by the O'Donnell Clan of the Cenél Conaill. Donegal sits at the mouth of the River Eske and Donegal Bay, which is overshadowed by the Bluestack Mountains ('the Croaghs'). The town is bypassed by the N15 and N56 roads. The centre of the town, known as The Diamond, is a hub for music, poetic and cultural gatherings in the area.
There is archaeological evidence for settlements around the town dating back to prehistoric times including the remains of round forts and other defensive earth works.
St. Patrick was captured by raiders from the clans governed by Niall of the Nine Hostages, and this region is that to which Patrick returned, being familiar with the people, language, customs and lands. The first clan to convert to Christianity as the result of St Patrick's efforts was Clan Connaill (also known at one time as Clan Dálaigh: in English, this is pronounced Daley and it translates as "one in a leadership role"). Connall was a son of Niall of the Nine Hostages. As a result of their acceptance of Christianity, Patrick blessed the clan members; the sign of the cross appeared on the chieftain's shield and this became not only the heraldic device for the clan but also for County Donegal.
Donegal Town itself is famous for being the former centre of government of the dynasty of O'Donnell of Tyrconnell, who played a pivotal role in Irish history, and whose original homeland lay further to the north in the area of Kilmacrenan. From the 15th to the 17th century, they were an important part of the opposition to the colonisation of Ireland by England. The town itself contains Donegal Castle, on the banks of the River Eske and the remains of a Franciscan abbey which dates back to the 15th century on the Southern shore of the Bay. The Annals of the Four Masters written in the abbey in the early 17th century. The story of Aodh Rua Ó Domhnaill (Red Hugh O'Donnell), Lord of Tyrconnell, was the inspiration behind many books and films, not least, Disney's The Fighting Prince of Donegal (1966).
After the Flight of the Earls in 1607 the castle and its lands were given to an English captain, Basil Brooke, as part of the Plantation of Ulster. Brooke carried out major reconstruction work and added a wing to the castle in the Jacobean style. The current plan of the town was also laid out including an attractive town square or Diamond. From the late 17th until the early 20th centuries, Donegal Town formed part of the vast estates of the Gore family (from 1762 Earls of Arran) and it while in their ownership that the town took on its present appearance. Donegal Borough returned two members to the Parliament of Ireland until the Act of Union 1800. Evidence of the Irish Famine still exists including a workhouse, whose buildings are now part of the local hospital, and many famine graves.
Industry and tourism
There are many sandy beaches in the area of Donegal, such as Murvagh beach, and some boasting good surfing conditions, such as Rossnowlagh. Donegal is also used as a base for hill-walking in the nearby Bluestack Mountains. Despite the town's many hotels catering for visitors, it suffers from a lack of social amenities for its local population. Many have to travel to nearby towns such as Letterkenny for facilities like public swimming pools, cinemas and large shopping centres.
Traditionally the largest employer in the town has been Magee of Donegal, who are manufacturers of tweed garments, some of which could, in the past, be seen being woven by hand on small looms in the company's department store. Like most clothing manufacturers in Ireland, the size of the workforce has been in decline for many years. Donegal also has a long tradition of weaving carpets. Donegal Carpets have been made in Killybegs for over one hundred years and have been found in Áras an Uachtaráin, the University of Notre Dame and the White House.
The Bus Éireann service number 64 Derry/Galway route which makes several other stops including Letterkenny and Sligo (which allows for rail connections by Iarnród Éireann, Official site - Timetables, bookings and operations from Sligo railway station to Dublin Connolly) and the number 30 Donegal/Dublin route which makes stops at other key towns such as Enniskillen (which provides connections to Belfast via Ulsterbus). Two private companies operate the other routes: 'McGeehan Bus' operates a regular service, from West Donegal to Dublin Airport and Busaras in Dublin, which passes through the town; while Feda O'Donnell Coaches (also known as Bus Feda) operates a regular Glenties/Galway service that stops in Donegal.
Donegal railway station opened on 16 September 1889 and finally closed on 1 January 1960. The site of the old station is now used by CIÉ as a bus depot while the actual building is the home of the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre.
Donegal town is home to many amateur sports clubs. The most popular sport in the area is Gaelic football and the local GAA club is Four Masters. The club also has been developing hurling. Other popular sports include soccer, rugby union, basketball and athletics.
Donegal Town was host to the final stage of the World Rally Championship on Feb 1st 2009 and was viewed by 68 million people worldwide.
The town is home to the regional newspapers Donegal Democrat and Donegal Post and the local Donegal Times newspaper.The Northwest Express regional newspaper is also distributed throughout the town and surrounding county. Ocean FM, an independent regional radio station, has one of its three studios in the town, which broadcasts to most of south County Donegal. Donegal Town was host to the final stage of the World Rally Championship on Feb 1st 2009 and viewed by 68 million people worldwide.
- Colonel Robertson, soldier and philanthropist
- John White, Conservative MP in the Canadian House of Commons
- Alexander Porter, United States Senator
- Karl Lacey, Gaelic footballer and 2012 All Stars Footballer of the Year
- Paul Durcan, Gaelic football goalkeeper
- Rory Gallagher, Guitarist
- Abbey Vocational School
- List of abbeys and priories in Ireland (County Donegal)
- List of towns and villages in Ireland
- Aldwell, B. 2003. A survey of local resident butterflies in County Donegal. Bull. Ir. biogeog. Soc. No. 27. 202–226.
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