Reputedly the oldest town in Ireland, pretty Ballyshannon offers a peaceful retreat from some of County Donegal’s busier seaside resorts. Nestled on a steep incline above the River Erne, it’s a wonderful base for exploring an area famous for its spectacular coastline.
Popular with tourists who appreciate a bit of tranquillity on their travels, Ballyshannon has a good range of affordable accommodation. There are hotels located in the centre of town, close to all the main restaurants, pubs and shops that pride themselves on their warm Irish welcome. There are also lots of guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, holidays homes, apartments and hostels in the area.
Ballyshannon is famous for its musical connections. Every year it hosts a festival in honour of rock and blues guitarist Rory Gallagher, who was born in the town, and it is also well known for its annual celebration of folk and traditional music.
Hotels Close to History
Ballyshannon was created by Royal Charter in 1613 but its history stretches back much further, with sites dating back to Neolithic times unearthed in and around the town. Viking invaders followed, then English forces were sent packing by Red Hugh O’Donnell in the Battle of Ballyshannon in 1597.
Three heritage routes reveal the town’s religious, political and maritime past in detail. They start at Mall Quay, once a busy port where salted fish, leather and wool were sent overseas.
Once a stronghold of the O’Donnell clan - the site of one of their castles can be seen by the river - Ballyshannon has several fascinating buildings. Take a look at the old 18th century barracks which are said to be haunted by the Green Lady, the ghost of a British officer’s wife who was killed there.
There is also a workhouse that provided shelter for 900 starving souls at the height of the Irish potato famine and, on Assaroe Road, you’ll find the Port of the Dead, the spot where the recently deceased were transported before bridges were built across the Erne.
Hotels Near Ballyshannon
Ballyshannon is just a few minute’s drive away from the busy seaside resort of Bundoran, home to one of the best surfing beaches in Europe. Youngsters will love its traditional amusement arcades, fairground rides and water and adventure parks handily set on the seafront. If beaches are your thing, you should also check out the beautiful expanse of sand at Rossnowlagh.
Set against the Bluestack Mountains, Donegal Town is well worth a visit for its beautifully restored castle and is also the ideal place to hop aboard a waterbus for a 75-minute trip around Donegal Bay. Most of the town’s hotels, pubs, restaurants and shops are centrally located around a pedestrianised area known as The Diamond.
With its pretty scenery, laid-back atmosphere and lovely mix of affordable accommodation, Ballyshannon is the perfect place to return to after a day exploring one of Ireland’s most popular counties. Whatever your budget, you’ll have no trouble finding a great place to stay.