County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland with a coastline on the
Atlantic Ocean. The extremely irregular coastline extends from Lough Foyle in
the north to Donegal Bay in the west and is deeply indented by Lough Swilly.
Tory Island is the largest of the coastal islands. There are two mountain
ranges: the Derryveagh Mountains in the northwest and the Blue Stack Mountains
in the west central region. To the north, immense deserted beaches, broken
landscapes with the peninsula of Fanad Head. Towards the West is the Gaeltacht
and the Rosses and the superb sights around the Errigal Mountains with Mount
Errigal, 752 m, the highest peak and the Muckish Mountains. The main rivers are
the Foyle, the Erne and the Finn. The county seat is at Lifford.
The name Donegal comes from the Irish ‘Dun nan Gall’ meaning fort of the
foreigner. Ireland’s most northerly county has little in common with its
neighbours in the Republic, either geographically or historically. Donegal's
supreme appeal lies in the natural beauty of its coast with windswept
peninsulas, precipitous cliffs and a host of golden beaches that rival any in
Europe. Blanket bogs, now rare in the world, cover much of the county. Although
agriculture is the leading industry, only one third of the land is suitable for
cultivation with the valleys of the Finn and Foyle the most intensively
cultivated areas. In the south is the centre of the Donegal cloth industry that
produces tweeds and handmade woollens. In the south-west, the Port of
Killybegs, the traditional folk village of Glencolumbkille and Slieve League -
the highest maritime cliffs in Europe.
Gaelic is still spoken in the highland region. In ancient times the Kingdom
of Tyrconnell, Donegal was not organized as a county until the reign of
Elizabeth I of England.
Donegal has been occupied by humans for over 9,000 years and is renowned for
its history and archaeology. Pre-Christian farmers left tomb monuments which
still dot the county, while evidence of Viking settlements can also be seen.
Christianity had a profound influence in Donegal and many early Christian
monuments are still evident today.