Donegal, County Donegal, Ireland
Donegal Castle is situated in the North West of Ireland. It dominates the centre of the town and sits on a rocky outcrop on the bend of the River Eske near the mouth of Donegal Bay.
For the past two centuries most of Donegal Castle lay in ruins but in the late 1990’s the tower house was totally restored leaving the remaining wings as ruins.
A boundary wall with a small gatehouse built in the 17th century surrounds the limestone and sandstone castle, the 15th century rectangular keep and a later Jacobean style wing.
Guided tours take you around the rooms inside the castle. The tours show the different styles and periods of its previous owners including Persian rugs and French tapestries. The remainder of the castle can be seen without a guide.
The castle is open to the public throughout the year. During Spring/Summer opening hours are 10:00 - 18:00 daily and during the Autumn/Winter between 09:30 – 16:30
The castle was built as a stronghold by Sir Hugh O’Donnell in 1474 for the O’Donnell clan who were one of the most powerful families in Ireland from the 5th to the 16th centuries and loyal subject of Queen Elizabeth I until the Nine Years War.
The O’Donnells left Ireland in 1607 to in the ‘Flight of the Earls’, but before they left they tried to destroy the castle to prevent it being used by the English against other Gaelic clans. Captain Basil Brooke was granted the castle and its land in 1611 and quickly restored and improved it. He made additions in a Jacobean style adding a large manor house wing in the keep, a gable, additional windows and a fortified tower. The castle stayed in the Brooke family for generations until it fell into disrepair in the 18th century after Cromwell’s invasion.
In 1898 the castle was handed over to the Office of Private Works by its owner the Earl of Arran.
The castle hosts events including Gaelic cultural evenings.
Other Castles in the Area
Classie Bawn Castle, County Sligo
Lough Eske Castle, County Donegal
Wardtown Castle, County Donegal
Castle Caldwell, County Fermanagh
Tully Castle, County Fermanagh