County Donegal, part of the province of Ulster, is located in the far north-west of the Republic of Ireland. It shares its border with three counties in Northern Ireland —Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh — and a short stretch to the south with County Leitrim, also in the Republic.
If you like the savage beauty of nature then the coastline of County Donegal will appeal to you. It is rugged, wild and remote. Imposing cliffs tower — those at Slieve League are said to be the sixth-highest in Europe — interspersed with deserted sandy beaches ringed with rocky headlands. Malin Head, on the Inishowen Peninsula, is the furthest north you can go on mainland Ireland.
The coast is fractured with many fjord-like inlets forming natural sea loughs such as Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly. Inland, the terrain is dominated by the Derryveagh Mountains to the north of the county and the Bluestack Mountains to the south.
Despite the wildness of the landscape, the climate is surprisingly mild, thanks to the waters of the Gulf Stream.
Things to Do in County DonegalDoagh Famine Village, only half an hour from Derry by road, is an absorbing exploration of the history of Ireland from the 1840s by means of a series of displays housed in original thatched cottages. Glencolmcille Folk Village, on the westernmost tip of County Donegal, offers another glimpse into the harshness of rural life in times gone by.
Described as one of the most beautiful castles in Ireland, Glenveaghis set in stunning scenery in a National Park and is a real treat of a day out. Within the grounds, you can hire bikes or take a short bus trip from the entrance up to the castle.
Of course, there is golf and fishing, surfing and sailing but most of all, people are drawn to County Donegal for its scenery.
The spectacular coastline, part of the Wild Atlantic Way, has such places as the Bloody Foreland, so named not because of some horrendous battle but because the rocks glow ruby-red at sunset. The vertical cliffs of Horn Head, on Sheephaven Bay, are a sanctuary for breeding seabirds and, on the windswept grasslands above, you can see Neolithic stone circles. These are just two examples to be found in a wondrous area, where you could drive, cycle, horse-ride or hike and be mesmerised by everything that catches your eye.
Staying in County DonegalIn the major settlements such as DonegalTown and Letterkenny, there is a fine range of hotels, guesthouses and B&B accommodation. Even in the more outlying areas, for example the Inishowen Peninsula, the tourist market is well-catered for so you will never be lost for a place to stay. There are some lovely self-catering cottages to be found in breathtaking locations, too.
Getting to County DonegalDonegal has its own airport, with flights to and from Dublin and Glasgow. Otherwise, Derry Airport is around an hour and a half away by road.