Oldtown, Letterkenny

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An tSeanbhaile
Oldtown is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 54°57′24″N 7°43′13″W / 54.9566°N 7.7204°W / 54.9566; -7.7204Coordinates: 54°57′24″N 7°43′13″W / 54.9566°N 7.7204°W / 54.9566; -7.7204
Country Ireland
Province Ulster
County County Donegal
 • Dáil Éireann Donegal North-East
Elevation 52 m (171 ft)
Population (2006)
 • Rural 1,750
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)
Area code(s) 074, +000 353 74
Irish Grid Reference C167119

Oldtown (Irish: An tSeanbhaile) is a district of Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland, located in the parish of Conwal and Leck. As its name suggests, it is the oldest part of the town and was the starting point of the area's development, though it existed before Letterkenny itself. The area contains approximately 600 residential properties. Oldtown may be entered from central Letterkenny via the Oldtown Bridge (for traffic) or Devlin Way (for pedestrians). The Rail Bridge (formerly used for trains run by the Lough Swilly Railway) is currently disused, and the only remaining evidence of Old Town railway station.

Oldtown has a weak range of essential services with the area being limited to green spaces within housing developments and facilities serving the area being located primarily in the town centre rather than in the Oldtown neighbourhood itself.[1] Old Dunnes, the nearest department store to the area, is located across the Oldtown Bridge. Other major industries in the area include The Hideout, a long-standing pub, and the Model Bakery and Gaeltex Factory, both of which shut long ago. The former Gaeltex Factory has since been demolished and turned into council houses. New Leck Cemetery, one of Letterkenny's main cemeteries, is within walking distance.

The Jim Larkin Court and Gaeltex Drive apartment blocks have a serious lack of facilities. They have no play area for children and families run the risk of having one of their children seriously injured or killed by a passing car.[2]


Oldtown existed as a Native Irish settlement before the plantation of Ulster which saw Patrick Crawford develop the market town on the other side of the Swilly at the Oldtown Bridge. The early inhabitants of the Oldtown spoke Gaelic and their main food source came from fishing the Swilly estuary which flowed up to Conwal graveyard,they also raised livestock on the hillside where Leck graveyard is today.

Old Town railway station was located on the Letterkenny & Burtonport Extension line. It opened on 9 March 1903 before finally closing for passengers and goods on 6 January 1947.[3] There is no evidence of the station in existence today, a hotel occupies the site. However, an old rail bridge may be seen spanning the River Swilly.[4]


The Hideout has been standing on this spot since the 1800s.

The Oldtown area has a proud industrial history with it being the location of many of the town's major employers. Former industries in the area include the Model Bakery[5] and the Gaeltex Factory.[6] Current employers in the area include Dunnes Stores, NowDoc,[7] Jungle King[8][9] and The Hide Out Bar (Oldtown Inn), which was established in the 19th century.[10] The pub was redeveloped in 2008 and was awarded the most improved public house by the then Minister for the Environment, John Gormley. However, the new owner John G. Larkin, has links with Dessie Larkin, the Fianna Fáil mayor and councillor (Gormley was in coalition with Fianna Fáil at this time).[11]


A view over Oldtown, with Oldtown Celtic's home stadium visible on the right

Golfing facilities opened in 1913 on a 47 acre (190,000 m2) 9 hole course at Crievesmith. The course was sold in 1965 for £3000 and the club moved to its current home at Barnhill. Due to the area's growing population the land was developed into housing at the turn of the 21st century. Oldtown Celtic, founded in 1976, is the local soccer club. They play their home games at Oldtown Park.[12]

Notable people[edit]

  • John Nee, actor
  • James Pius Clarke,[13] former IRA member and Maze Prison escapee who served an 18-year prison sentence for the attempted murder of a member of a Protestant paramilitary group.[14]


External links[edit]