|— Town —|
|Dáil Éireann||Donegal South–West|
|Elevation||6 m (20 ft)|
|Irish Grid Reference||H330984|
|Dialing code||+353 (0)74|
Lifford (Irish: Leifear, historically anglicized as Liffer) is the county town of County Donegal, Ireland. It is the administrative capital of the county and the seat of Donegal County Council, although the town of Letterkenny is often mistaken for fulfilling this role. Lifford lies in the Finn Valley area of East Donegal where the River Finn meets the River Mourne to create the River Foyle.
The town grew up around a castle built there by Manghus Ó Domhnaill, ruler of Tír Chonaill (mostly modern County Donegal), in the 16th century. It later became a British Army garrison town until most of Ireland won independence as a dominion in 1922. It lies across the River Foyle from Strabane (in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland) and is linked to that town by Lifford Bridge. Lifford has achieved national recognition in the 2008 Tidy Towns Awards  as the best newcomer to the competition in Category 'C'.
Lifford Castle was built by Manus O'Donnell. Building began in 1527 on the Wednesday after St. Brendan's day (Saint Brendan's feast day is celebrated on May 16). He completed the masonry and woodwork by the end of that summer even though the O’Neill’s of Tyrone were at war with him. In 1543 the castle of Leithbher was given to Cahir (the son of Donnell Balbh) O'Gallagher to be guarded for the O’Donnell clan. He then proceeded to banish the people loyal to the O’Donnell’s from the castle so that he could keep it for himself. In 1544 Calvagh, the son of O'Donnell, went to the English Lord Justice, and brought back English soldiers with him to Tirconnell, the olden name for County Donegal. O'Donnell, Calvagh, and these men went with ‘ordnance and engines for taking towns’ to the castle of Lifford to take it back from the descendants of the O'Gallagher’s. Cahir, the son of Tuathal Balbh & Turlough, the son of Felim Fin O'Gallagher, who had been taken hostage earlier, were brought to the castle to see if the O’Gallagher’s would surrender. Which they wouldn’t. As the English attacked one was killed instantly so they killed Cahir, the son of Tuathal on the spot. The castle was then surrendered to O’Donnell to spare the life of Turlough, the son of Felim Fin and another son of Tuathal Balbh.
Sadly Lifford castle is no longer standing but here is a poem about the castle, it describes the owners and surroundings at the time. A beloved dwelling is the castle of Lifford, homestead of a wealth-abounding encampment; forge of hospitality for the men of Ulster, a dwelling it is hard to leave. Beloved are the two who keep that house without excess, without lack; the ward of the stout, even-surfaced tower are the supporting pillars of the province. Short is the day, no matter what its length, in the company of the royal warrior of Conchobhar's Plain; fleet are the long days from the lady of bright-walled Tara. The daughter of noble Shane O'Neill, and the son of O'Donnell of Dún Iomgháin—they are in the ancient, comely dwelling as entertainers of guests. Dear the hostel in which these are wont to be, dear the folk -who dwell in the hostel; the people of the house and the house of that people—happy is any who shall get honor such as theirs. Beloved the delightful, lofty building, its tables, its coverlets, its cupboards; its wondrous, handsome, firm walls, its smooth marble arches. Beloved is the castle in which we used to spend a while at chess-playing, a while with the daughters of the men of Bregia, a while with the fair books of the poets.
In 1611 Lifford came into the possession of Sir Richard Hansard during the Plantation of Ulster. One of the conditions of his grant was that a ferry crossing be provided over the River Finn. This service continued until 1730 when the first bridge linking Lifford and Strabane was built.
In the 19th century a curious custom existed when if, by the end of the Assizes in Lifford or Omagh courthouses, a jury could not reach a unanimous verdict in a case, they were sent to the "verge" of the county to be dismissed. In some of the cases of counties Donegal and Tyrone this would have been the middle of Lifford Bridge.
The present bridge was constructed by engineering company McAlpines in 1964, jointly funded by Donegal County Council and the old Tyrone County Council (the present Strabane District Council was only formed in the early 1970s). During The Troubles in 1968, an attempt was made to blow the bridge up. However, it was only closed for a short time and today remains an important road link.
National Government 
Lifford was once a constituency that elected two M.P.s (Members of Parliament) from the area to the Irish House of Commons from the years 1692 until 1800. More information on who represented the area can be found here at Lifford (Parliament of Ireland constituency).
Lifford is now in the Dáil Éireann constituency of Donegal South–West. It was formerly in Donegal North–East, but due to the population shift within the County an electoral boundary review in 2008 moved the town and environs to Donegal SW. The town also moved from the Letterkenny Electoral Area to the Stranorlar Electoral Area as part of that boundary review. The constituency is represented in Dáil Éireann by Pearse Doherty(TD) of Sinn Féin, Dinny McGinley(TD) of Fine Gael and Thomas Pringle an Independent Teachta Dála(TD). They were elected to the 31st Dáil at the General Election on 9 March 2011
Local Government 
The town is represented by one councillor with Donegal County Council, namely Gerry Crawford (Fianna Fáil). Councillor Crawford from Porthall has been elected Donegal County Mayor and Chairman of the Council for 2008.
Lifford Town has a population of 1,658 as of 2011 census  an increase of 210 on the 2006 census  of the Republic of Ireland. In 2002 there was 1,395 residents in the town. The town population (2011) divides up as 777 male and 881 female residents. Lifford is part of the Parish of Clonleigh with a population of 3,681, the parish is sub-divided for electoral purposes into two separate Electoral Districts, Clonleigh North, population 1,466 and Clonleigh South, population 2,215.
Hansard's Grammar School 
The will of Sir Richard Hansard in 1619, endowed a private school, in Lifford. The will provided for 30 pounds sterling a year for a master, and 20 pounds sterling a year for an usher. The school was intended to cater for classical studies. All children of Clonleigh parish were to be entitled to attend for a free education.
Hansards' Grammar School commenced operations in 1697.
In 1791, the Commissioners of Education reported that there were no free scholars in the school out of an attendance of 18, of whom 6 were boarders.
The Commissioners of 1807-1812 reported the school as being in a very unsatisfactory condition. While the head master and usher were being paid salaries according to the endowment, the teaching had been handed off to a third person on a wage of 6 pounds sterling a year. Furthermore, classical subjects were not being taught, only arithmetic.
The school continued in decline until 1840, until an inspection by the Commissioners precipitated the resignation of the master, who was accused of major neglect. Attendance which had been as low as three pupils, rapidly increased under a new classical teacher.
Sometime before 1856, the Earl Erne (whose family, the Creightons / Crichtons, had originally settled in Ulster at Lifford before moving south to County Fermanagh), on behalf of the Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, converted the school into an English-style school, and hired a master and mistress. Both were dismissed in 1856. At this time there was a dwelling house attached to the school, lived in by a previous master.
In 1857, the school was reopened as an English school under the management of the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe.
Historical Buildings & Places of Interest 
Lifford Courthouse 
The courthouse is now a museum and is located across from the County House, the HQ of Donegal County Council, in The Diamond area of the town. The courthouse was designed by Michael Priestly of Dublin and built in 1746. The museum houses a permanent display of O'Donnell clan documents and artefacts, as well as minute books from various institutes in Donegal. It also houses some of the original cells belonging to what was once Donegal's 'County Jail'.
Cavanacor House 
Cavanacor House is located just off the N14 on the outskirts of the town - which is the ancestral home of the 11th President of the United States of America, James Knox Polk. His great, great, great grandmother (Magdelene Tasker) was born here in 1634, she later married Capt. Robert Bruce Pollock and emigrated to the USA. King James II dined at Cavanacor House on his way to the siege of Derry in 1689.
Prior Endowed School 
The school was built in 1880 to cater for local Protestant children with monies bequeathed by Miss Eleanor Prior from Ballindrait. The Prior school closed in 1972, being amalgamated with the Royal School in Raphoe to create the "Royal & Prior Comprehensive School". The school and grounds were first taken over by the then Irish Department of Posts and Telegraphs, and later (from 1974) by the Irish Defence Forces for use as a military barracks. The Barracks has since closed along with Rockhill House Military Post in Letterkenny on 31 January 2009.
St. Lugadius Church 
Clonleigh (Church of Ireland) Parish Church was built in 1621. Sir Richard Hansard who had been granted land at Lifford directed in his will that a church be built in Lifford. There is a monument to Sir Richard and his wife Dame Anne inside the church with a plaque on the wall detailing his wishes and who the executors of his will were.
St. Patrick’s (Roman Catholic) Church 
St. Patrick’s is the second church on the present site. The first church was built here at Murlog in the 18th century after the Earl of Erne saw Catholic worshippers praying in the open. The church was later demolished to make way for the new church which was built in 1963. A three stage gothic tower dating from about 1820 was attached to the old church and was saved by the parish; it is still standing next to new church. The church is in the parish of Clonleigh, formerly Clonleigh and Camus until it was established as an independent parish in 1974.
Lifford is known as the ‘Gateway to Donegal’, this is because it is the first town you enter in County Donegal when travelling from Dublin on the N2 (A5/A38 through County Tyrone). Two national primary routes, the N15 to Sligo via Stranorlar, Donegal Town and Ballyshannon and also the N14 to Letterkenny, take travellers to all parts in the County. There is also the R265/R236/A40 national secondary route to Derry City. Lifford has several daily bus services operated by Bus Éireann to Dublin Airport / Dublin City Centre (Busáras). They also serve Letterkenny and Ballybofey, where connections can be had for travelling onwards to Sligo with its train and bus station. Lifford is also very close to Strabane Bus Depot, located on Bradley Way in Strabane. From here, Ulsterbus operate services to Derry, Belfast, Omagh and other places in Northern Ireland.
City of Derry Airport is the nearest major airport to Lifford, approximately a 40 minute drive (22 Miles/35 km). Daily flights to and from the airport include London Stansted, Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Faro, Lanzarote, Alicante, Majorca during the summer months.
Donegal Airport is a regional airport located at Carrickfinn in West Donegal, approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes from Lifford, (52 Miles/83 km). Flights from here go to Dublin and Glasgow several times weekly.
- In 1792 the 6 km (4 mi) Strabane Canal was constructed from the tidal waters of Lough Foyle at Leck, to Strabane. The canal fell into disuse in 1962. In June 2006 the Strabane Lifford Development Commission awarded a £1.3m cross-border waterways restoration contract. The project was launched by Her Excellency Prof. Mary McAleese, the President of Ireland, in Lifford and involves the restoration of 2.4 km (1.5 mi) of canal and two locks to working order. Work is due to start on the Lough Foyle side of the canal in the summer of 2006.
- Lifford Halt railway station opened on 1 January 1909 and finally closed on 1 January 1960. Lifford was a stop on the Strabane to Letterkenny narrow gauge rail line. It was run by the CDR, as it was known at the time or County Donegal Railways Joint Committee. This line also stopped at Ballindrait, Raphoe and Convoy en route to Letterkenny.
The nearest railway station is Waterside Station in Derry. This station is operated by Northern Ireland Railways (N.I.R.) and runs from Derry, via Coleraine, to Central Station and Great Victoria Street Station in Belfast. The strategically important Belfast-Derry railway line is to be upgraded to facilitate more frequent trains and improvements to the permanent way, such as track and signalling, to enable faster services.
Lifford is home to a number of sporting clubs, including:
- Naomh Pádraig GAA Club  (which plays in the Donegal Senior Football Division 3), they play their home games at McDermott Park in the Roughan.
- Lifford Celtic Football Club (which plays in the Premier Division of the Donegal Junior Football League), their home ground is at Greenbrae Park. Lifford Celtic have won the Premier Division and are now League Champions for the 2012/2013 season.
- Deele Harps Football Club (which play in the First Division (Saturday League) of the Donegal Junior Football League), They play their home games at the Lifford Athletic Club grounds in the Roughan. Deele Harps have won the 2013 Saturday League Division Two trophy and are now promoted to Division One (Saturday League) for the season 2013/14.
- Lifford Athletic Club  train at the their athletic track & grounds in the Roughan.
- The Three Rivers Shotokan Karate Club, The karate club train all age groups from beginner to black belt in the Lifford/Clonleigh Community Resource Centre on the Gallows Lane.
Notable people 
- Alexander Allison (1799-1862) - Lifford born Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee from 1847 to 1849.
- Sharon Foley - Athlete, Senior Irish National Record holder for the Heptathlon.
- Shay Given - Association football goalkeeper with Ireland's record number of appearances
- Mickey Joe Harte - Singer-songwriter
- Paddy Harte - Former Fine Gael T.D. for Donegal North-East and former Irish Government minister.
- Alexander Montgomery (1720-1800) - Irish politician
- Hugh Roe O'Donnell, was An Ó Domhnaill (The O'Donnell) and Rí (king) of Dun na nGall
- Dr George Otto Simms – Church of Ireland Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh (Church of Ireland).
See also 
- Placenames Database of Ireland (see archival records)
- "Welcome to TidyTowns Ireland". Tidytowns.ie. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
- http://www.ucc.ie/celt/online/T100011.html (p665)
- "The bardic poems of Tadhg Dall Ó Huiginn (1550–1591) " CELT, the Corpus of Electronic Texts. Retrieved 16 May 2013
- The Second Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England, Page 547
- Electoral Area Committees - Home Page
- Beyond 20/20 WDS - Table View
- Report of Her Majesty's Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into the Endownments, Funds and Actual Condition of all Schools Endowed for the Purposes of Education in Ireland, 1858
- ©Searc.ie. "Donegal County.com & Dún na nGall.com - Cavanacor House". Dun-na-ngall.com. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
- "Royal and Prior Comprehensive School, Raphoe". Royalandprior.ie. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
- "Lifford Halt station". Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
- Official Website of Naomh Padraig Lifford
- Donegal Junior Football League > Home
- Lifford Athletic Club and Gym
- Shay-Given.com "official website for Shay Given".
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