Dominating the town of Donegal, the 17th Century ruins of Donegal Castle, the seat of the power of the O’Donnell Chieftains, is tangled with the history of the county and province of Ulster.
Once the principle residence of the O’Donnell’s – known to be one of the leading Gaelic Clans that can trace their ancestry back to Niall of the Nine Hostages of the 5th Century, the formidable Donegal Castle from its position in the centre of Donegal Town is linked to some of the powerful dynasties of Ulster and an excellent surviving example of a Scots Planter fortified home.
Having the castle as the centre of their power, the O’Donnell’s ruled the area of Tir Connell and much of Donegal, however following their defeat to the English in the Battle of Kinsale; Donegal Castle was then granted to English Captain, Basil Brooke.
Broke rebuilt the medieval castle into a more pleasant and comfortable residence, with a fortified tower, Jacobean Manor House and Curtain Wall.
Unfortunately the castle was left to fall in to wreck and ruin after Cromwell’s defeat of Ireland, but the Tower House of the castle has been carefully restored to its former glory and visitors to this magnificent attraction in the North West can avail of guided tours that take place every hour around the rooms of the castle, which have been wonderfully presented to profile the different styles and times of its two previous owners.
A must with tourists on Ireland vacation and situated right in the middle of Donegal Town, Donegal Castle is open daily from Easter – mid September between 10am – 6pm and from Mid September to Easter on Thursday’s – Monday’s only between 9:30am – 4:30pm, there is a small admission fee to enter and limited access for people with disabilities on the ground floor.
Although this enchanting attraction does not have anywhere for visitors to get refreshments whilst visiting the castle, there are some close by restaurants to try – these include:
The Harbour Restaurant – located opposite the picturesque Donegal Bay in Donegal Town offers a relaxed, friendly and informal dining experience. Winner of the Best Casual Dining in County Donegal at the Irish Restaurant Awards 2012, the Harbour Restaurant is a premier seafood and steak restaurant with a vibrant, fresh and varied menu that showcases the finest and freshest of local seafood caught on their doorstop. For more information visit: www.theharbour.ie
Olde Castle Bar & Red Hugh Restaurant – is situated in the centre of Donegal Town beside the magnificent castle and offers a warm welcome to locals and visitors alike. A proud member of B.I.M good Seafood Circle, a prestigious group of restaurants and outlets chosen nationwide for the quality of the their seafood, the Olde Castle Bar and Red Hugh Restaurant strives to locally sources all ingredients and serves some of the finest Donegal seafood and locally produced steaks. For more information visit: www.oldecastlebar.com
La Bella Donna – located in the middle of busy Donegal Town, the Bella Donna is a little bit of Italy down by the river. Elegantly furnished and a pleasant atmosphere, their menu is varied and offers diners a wide choice of pasta, pizza, salads, steaks, chicken and seafood. For more information visit: www.labelladonnarestaurant.com