What to See Near Donegal
Can you guess where these pictures were taken? Well we already gave the hint so yes, it is in County Donegal, but what is it and where?
The structure is a court tomb as opposed to a portal tomb because it has a surrounding "courtyard" to the tomb. This particular site is a hidden treasure which we stop at on our Northern Adventure, and is known as the Cloghanmore Court Tomb. Not far from the picturesque village of Glencolumbkille and between Malin Beg and Malin Mór, this site is not well marked but actually in plain site across from the Woolen Factory.
Court tombs were used by ancient Irish as community gathering places. They were aligned with the identity of the local clans and brought together the living and the dead of the community. Unlike portal tombs, they did not necessarily mark a boundary and were often immersed in the middle of community life such as in an agricultural field.
Besides Glencolmbkille nearby which hosts an excellent Folk Village and language school, nearby sites to visit include the Silver Strand at Malin Beg as well as Malin Mór. There are also portal tombs to see near Malin Mór as well as at Croghbeg on the way back to Killybegs along the R263. Not far from the village at Glencolumbkille you can find the Farranmacbride court tomb and if you are heading north, by all means stop by the abandoned village of Port, arguably one of the most picturesque places in Ireland.
Other Popular Donegal Attractions
Slieve League Cliffs
A popular hiking trail, Slieve League is known for its stunning coastal cliffs, which offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The Slieve League Cliffs are one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe, rising over 600 meters above the Atlantic Ocean.
The most popular route for hiking Slieve League is the "One Man's Pass" trail, which is a moderate to strenuous hike that takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete. The trail starts from the car park at the foot of the cliffs and winds its way up to the summit, passing through several breathtaking viewing points along the way. It is important to note that the trail can be steep and slippery in places, so it is recommended to wear sturdy footwear and bring along a waterproof jacket.
Bee aware of the weather conditions, and plan your hike as the winds can be strong and the trails can become slippery when it rains. It is also important to stay on the designated trails and to not venture too close to the edge of the cliffs, as the drop is steep and the rocks can be unstable.
Not up for a hike? Treat yourself to a scenic cruise, seeing a variety of spectacular natural wonders in a short space of time. Departures leave from Killybegs Harbour towards the impressive Slieve League cliffs. Along the way, pass by St John’s Point lighthouses, Rotten Island, Fintra Bay, and Benbulbin in Sligo. A great way to see views of natural wonders such as caves and waterfalls!
Glenveagh National Park
This stunning park is home to a variety of landscapes, including mountains, lakes, and forests, as well as a castle and garden. Small group tours are available where you learn about local folklore and the medicinal uses of some of Ireland’s plants as you observe the fauna and flora along the way. Even more, hear about the area’s history and geology during the hike. Private trips can be arranged for a minimum of three persons.
The Donegal Craft Village
A must see and unique shopping and cultural experience located in Donegal Town, the Donegal Craft Village is a recreated 19th-century village that showcases the best of traditional Irish arts and crafts, including weaving, pottery, jewelry making, and more. Visitors can see skilled artisans at work and purchase handmade items to take home as a souvenir.
The village is designed to be a step back in time, with thatched cottages, a traditional pub, and a blacksmith's forge all adding to the authentic atmosphere. There are also several exhibitions showcasing the rich cultural heritage of County Donegal, including the history of its ancient Celtic kings and the strong tradition of weaving that still exists in the region today.
In addition to shopping and learning about the local culture, visitors can also enjoy a bite to eat at the traditional Irish pub or café, or relax in the peaceful surroundings of the village gardens.
The Inishowen Peninsula
Inishowen is the largest peninsula in Ireland known for its stunning natural beauty, including its rolling hills, scenic coastline, and pristine beaches. Home to a number of historic sites and attractions, including the ancient Grianán of Aileach fort, which dates back to the 6th century and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The peninsula is also home to several picturesque villages and towns, including Culdaff, Malin, and Carndonagh, each with its own unique character and charm.
One of the most popular activities in Inishowen is exploring its stunning coastline, which is dotted with charming seaside villages and hidden coves. The peninsula is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with opportunities for hiking, cycling, and golfing in its rolling hills and scenic countryside.
In addition to its natural beauty, Inishowen is also known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant music scene. Visitors can experience traditional Irish music and dance at one of the many local pubs or cultural events, or learn about the region's history and folklore at one of the many museums and cultural centers.
The Fanad Lighthouse
Fanad Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located on the Fanad Peninsula in the Fanad Peninsula. It was first established in 1817 and is one of the oldest lighthouses in Ireland. The lighthouse is situated on a narrow strip of land that extends into the Atlantic Ocean, offering spectacular views of the surrounding coastline and sea.
A cylindrical tower that stands approximately 35 meters tall, and it is one of the most recognizable landmarks in County Donegal. The lighthouse has a distinctive white and black spiral pattern that makes it easy to spot from a distance. The light from the lighthouse can be seen for up to 20 miles out to sea, making it a valuable aid to navigation for ships and boats in the area.
In recent years, Fanad Lighthouse has become a popular tourist attraction, attracting visitors from all over the world who are interested in its history, architecture, and spectacular views. Visitors can tour the lighthouse, including its lantern room, and learn about its history and importance to the local community.
Skip the rush and the tourist crowds with a private Fanad Peninsula tour Relax a pickup from Buncrana, Letterkenny, or Donegal town hotels. Tailored just for you, explore the Fanad Peninsula with an insider, a County Donegal local who’s passionate about his homeland.
The Donegal Castle
This well-preserved castle dating back to the 15th century, Donegal Castle was originally built by the O'Donnell chieftains, who were one of the most powerful clans in Ireland during the medieval period. Over the centuries, the castle underwent several renovations and additions, and today it stands as a well-preserved example of Irish medieval architecture.
The castle consists of several buildings, including a keep, towers, and living quarters, all surrounded by a fortified wall. Visitors can take a tour of the castle and learn about its rich history, including its role in the Nine Years' War and its use as a military barracks during the 17th century. Visitors can also see the castle's Great Hall, which was used for banquets and other social events, and the castle's kitchen, which has been restored to its original state.
One of the most unique features of Donegal Castle is its elaborate gardens, which feature a series of terraces and flower beds that overlook the River Eske. These gardens are thought to have been created in the 17th century and are a perfect example of the formal gardens that were popular during that time period.
The town of Donegal is known for its tweed production, and you can visit the Donegal Tweed Visitor Centre to see the process and purchase traditional tweed products. Donegal Tweed is a type of woolen fabric that is woven in County Donegal, and is known for its distinctive appearance, which is characterized by its rough texture, earthy color palette, and flecks of contrasting colors. Donegal Tweed is made from 100% pure new wool and is traditionally woven by hand on a treadle loom.
The history of Donegal Tweed dates back to the 19th century, when local weavers in County Donegal began to produce tweed fabric using locally sourced wool and natural dyes. The tweed became popular among the local population due to its durability and versatility, and was soon in demand across Ireland and beyond. Today, Donegal Tweed is still woven using traditional methods and is considered one of the finest tweed fabrics in the world.