Travel to the Donegal Gaeltacht
County Donegal, one of the three Ulster counties that stayed in the Republic of Ireland, is one of the most remote parts of Ireland, geographically and historically, and it is no surprise that this remoteness enabled the Irish language to remain strong and resistant against the influences of the second official language in the Republic. The name of Donegal comes from the Irish Dún na nGall, meaning “the fort of the foreigners”. The area is also known as Tír Conaill, which was the kingdom that covered much of what is now Co. Donegal.
For staying in Donegal, we have Donegal Gaeltacht Accommodation.
The Irish clans who fled to Europe in the Middle Ages left the gates open for Protestant settlers, who left most of the Donegal’s poor soil to the native Irish, who lived there in isolation not only from the Irish, but also from the rest of the Ulster, therefore remaining largely Catholic and excluded from the Northern Ireland.
The countryside of Donegal is exceptional for hiking. Low mountains offer spectacular views of the surroundings and the deeply indented coastline, that forms natural loughs, of which Lough Swilly is the most notable. The famous mountains or Hills of Donegal consist of two major ranges, the Derryveagh Mountains in the north and the Bluestack Mountains in the south, with Mount Errigal at 751 metres the highest peak.
Some might say that the beauty of Donegal lies mainly along the coast, indeed, they might be right. Horn Head is the most scenic of the northern Donegal headlands. It rises 180 metres out of the Atlantic and offers great views out to the see and inland towards the mountains. Oileán Thoraí (Tory Island) (see oileanthorai.com), off the northwest coast of Donegal is a rough place that weather can cut off the mainland for days. Therefore the inhabitants of the island have developed a strong sense of independence and loyalty to the Irish language. Similarly to the Blasket Islands in County Kerry, the government had tried to resettle the inhabitants of Oileán Thoraí, but they refused to leave.
To prove that not all the beauty of Donegal lies on its coast, you should visit Grianán of Ailigh; the circular stone structure, measuring 23 metres in diameter and overlooking Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle is believed to have been built as a pagan temple around 5th century BC, but was later adopted by the Christians.
Letterkenny (Leitir Ceanainn) is Donegal’s largest town. It has one of the longest main streets in Ireland, dominated by St Eunan’s Cathedral. The town has a vivid nightlife and offers great historical and recreational opportunities.
An Ghaeltacht of Donegal stretches almost unbroken along the coast from Fanad Head to Slieve League and includes 7 towns or villages: Árainn Mhór (Arranmore), Gaoth Dobhair (Gweedore), Gleann Cholm Cille (Glencolmcille), Gort a’ Choirce (Gortahork), Na Dúnaibh (Downings), Oileán Toraigh (Tory Island), Rann na Feirste (Rannafast).