Donegal Town is a town in County Donegal, Ireland. It is bypassed by the N15 road linking Sligo to Letterkenny. It is situated on Donegal Bay and is at the base of the Bluestack Mountains, making it a good base for touring south County Donegal. Donegal Town is charming and picturesque, with a small harbour where the Eske River enters Donegal Bay and a pleasant town centre, known as the Diamond. The Diamond is a spacious, open pedestrian area surrounded by hotels, shops, pubs, restaurants and coffee houses. It is the fifth largest town in the county.
Bus Éireann's buses stop at the town center, "The Diamond", outside the Abbey Hotel. They provide direct bus service to Dublin, Derry, Sligo, Galway, and connecting service to numerous locations in the country and Northern Ireland. The nearest train station is Sligo which has trains to and from Dublin. There are two regional airports, the closest is Sligo Airport, Donegal Airport in the North-West of the county is further away. There is also an airport at Derry (Londonderry) which is approx 1 hour drive from Donegal Town.
Donegal Town is small enough to walk almost everywhere.
Doherty's on Main Street used to rent bicycles and may still do. The "Bike Shop" on Waterloo Place also offers bike hire.
If you need to go further afield, you will need to either use Bus Éireann's buses, use a taxi, use a bike, hitch a lift or hire a car (the nearest car hire is at Sligo Airport), or bike. There is also a local bus service to Killybegs, Glencomcille, Ardara and Glenties.
Visit the Tourist Office by the quay (near the side entrance to Dom's Pier One). While down there walk down to end of the quay (pier) and visit the "Old Graveyard" which is housed in the ruins of "The Old Abbey" which was a Francisian Friary where the medieval beautifully decorated bible "The Annuals of the Four Masters" was crafted.
- 1 Donegal Abbey. was built in 1474 in this beautiful location at the waters edge of Donegal harbour. The ruins that have survived the centuries are a popular tourist attraction and provide a Gothic backdrop to many a visitor's photographs.
- The center of town is dominated by the "Diamond", with "The Monument" in the center. "The Monument" is dedicated to the four authors of "The Annuals of the Four Masters".This interesting obelisk is often the center-point of a few skateboarders.
- 2 Donegal Castle (Near the Diamond). Donegal Castle is the 15th century seat of the O'Donnell chieftains, and has been magnificently restored. It is open to public viewing from March to October and its great hall hosts recitals and other cultural events on winter evenings.
- 3 Donegal Railway Heritage Centre. Apr-Sep M-Sa 10AM - 5PM, Su noon-4PM. The Donegal Railway Heritage Centre commemorates the operations of the County Donegal Railways Committee which operated two narrow-gauge railways in County Donegal from 1863 until 1959. The County Donegal Railway Restoration Society restored the centre, which opened in 1995 and is housed in the old station house in Donegal Town. Today, it operates as a visitor attraction comprising a museum, information centre and shop. On display are rolling stock, historical artefacts and an audio-visual presentation on the railways’ history. Adults €5.
There is a "Waterbus" from the harbor that gives 1 hour tours on the bay, €10. The Captain, Billy Bustard, provides a great narration for the duration of the trip detailing the history of many of the sites.
- A pleasant walk near the center of town, is the "'Bank Walk'" (approx 2 miles/3km). To find it, walk down Bridge Street (follow the signs to Mountcharles/Killybegs). After Dunnions Pub, you will cross a bridge and take an immediate left and will see a tree-lined path in front of you. The end of the walk has a bench that is a scenic place to enjoy the view and relax for a few minutes. To return, either retrace your steps back to town or walk back half-way and take the side road that connects to Main Killybegs road.
- 1 Lough Eske. is one of Ireland's loveliest lakes. Lying beneath the Blue Stacks, it gives rise to the Eske River, which enters the bay at Donegal harbour. The roads that encircle it are safe to walk, cycle or drive and provide striking views of the lake as it reflects the changing moods of the mountains and sky. Angling for salmon, sea trout and brown trout is available in both Lake and River.
- Some of the best angling in the country is available within the locality. Access to the Eske, Eany, Drowes and Finn systems for substantial runs of salmon and sea trout is readily available. Sea angling for numerous species of sought after fish including cod, bluefin, tuna, bass, pollock and plaice is easily accessible from shore in addition to licensed angling boats from Killybegs, Teelin and Creevy.
- Stables & Horseriding
- There are two equestrian centres in the area, providing both indoor and outdoor arenas, cross country rides, trekking, pony rides and tuition there. Also, the surrounding countryside and beaches are aptly suited to horse riding.
- 2 Donegal Golf Club, Murvagh Lower (along the shores of Donegal Bay, 6 miles outside of Donegal town.). an 18 hole championship links course, in a peninsula setting, with a good chance of seeing interesting flora and fauna. 18 holes €50 - €130.
- Other courses are within easy travelling distance including, Bundoran and Ballybofey/Stranorlar clubs.
The town is serviced by four banks, with ATM machines available.
- AIB Bank +353 74 972-1016
- Bank of Ireland +353 74 972-1079
- Ulster Bank +353 74 972-1064
- Permanent TSB +353 74 972-1946
Donegal Town has superb shopping facilities. There are all types of shops but especially notable are the clothing outlets, with a strong tradition in this trade from the days of hand weaving. The town is home to Magee of Donegal, which offers a large selection of finely tailored clothing.
The town is an important and vibrant retail centre, serving as a catchment of almost five times its population. Two of the major supermarkets are present in the town, namely, 1 Super Valu, in the Donegal Shopping Centre and 2 LIDL. There is a craft village 200 meters out of the town, that includes a wonderful coffee shop. There is a good bookstore, with local publications, located on The Diamond. Donegal's Hanna's Hats are world famous and available in the shops here.
There is also the Mill Court Mews, The Diamond Centre and the Castle Centre, all of which accommodate many services and retail outlets.There are many art and crafts shops, which stock indigenous designs from Donegal. The town also has numerous food and hardware stores, clothing shops, health food shop, and a sports shop.
- Blueberry Tea Room on Castle St serves snacks and light meals M-Sa 09:00-19:00.
- Chandpur serves Bangladeshi food. They're on Main St, open M-Sa 16:30-23:00, Su 13:00-22:00.
- Four Lanterns on Quay St serves burgers and simiar fast food, M-Th 12:30-23:00, F Sa 12:30-02:00, Su 16:30-22:30.
- Shamrock is a Chinese takeaway on Quay St.
- Harbour Restaurant on Quay Street serves pub-style meals M-Sa 17:00-21:30, Su 13:00-21:30.
- Dom's Pier One, Quay St F94 XWV9, ☏ . Daily 11:00-21:00. Lively bar and waterside restaurant, the food usually pleases.
- Olde Castle Bar & Red Hugh's Restaurant, Castle Street F94 AKC2, ☏ . Daily 11:00-20:00. Good pub grub, with seafood and steaks.
- La Bella Donna, 2 Bridge St, ☏ . Daily 17:00-22:00. Good Italian fare.
- The very best dining is in the upscale hotels, so see Sleep for Mill Park, Harvey's Point and Lough Eske Castle.
There are seventeen licensed premises in the town, which cater for all. Traditional music is provided almost every night during the Summer months, with live entertainment at weekends. Cabaret and concerts are held regularly. Other pubs have regular entertainment schedules, including pub quizzes, sporting events and karaoke. There are also two night clubs in the town, with regular discos.
- The Reel Inn (beside the bridge in the middle of town). Has traditional Irish Music 7 nights a week - really! The owners play and sing themselves and visiting musicians are welcome to join in. A real "session" house!
- The Forge. An old bar that is small, cosy, & friendly.
- The Castle Bar. A traditional bar with a good atmosphere and grand Guinness. It serves Irish Stew, Venison pie and Seafood platters all day.
- McCaffery's (opposite The "Central Hotel"). A cute old bar, on a cold damp day or night sit at the fire and reach over to the bar for a pint. It is often claimed they have the best Guinness in town, due to the short length of the pipe connecting the keg to the tap.
- Dunnions. The folk who ran the Scotsman's have moved to Dunnions and have live music here most nights. Also, a great pint of Guinness and often a load of craic.
- The Bluestack. Has a pool-table in the back room.
- Abbey Bar is within Abbey Hotel and has a disco until late at the weekend.
- The Coach House (opposite the Catholic Church). Cellar bar downstairs for live music.
- Donegal Town Independent Hostel, Doonan, ☏ . This hostel is less than 1km from the center of town. It is on the Killybegs road on the right hand side shortly after the roundabout (traffic-circle).
- Blue Stack Centre, Drimarone, ☏ . The Blue Stack Hostel is approx 5km from town, it's a pleasant but hilly walk.
In normal times Donegal Town has over 30 B&Bs, but they mostly didn't open in 2020-21 because of the impracticality of covid precautions. Check with the TIC (above) for a listing.
- Arranmore Guest House, ☏ .
- Atlantic Guest House, Main St F94 RKF3, ☏ . Old style guesthouse, small but clean and welcoming. B&B double €80.
- Donegal Manor 4* Guesthouse, Letterkenny Rd (just outside of Donegal Town), ☏ .
- Drumholm House B&B (200 meters from the town Diamond), ☏ .
- St.Martins Guest House, Ballyweel (Beach road, off Killybegs Road).
- Abbey Hotel, The Diamond F94 AP8W, ☏ . Very central, usually comfy enough but at weekends the nightclub makes a racket until 0200, and in the hot July of 2021 rooms were poorly ventilated. B&B double €150.
- Central Hotel, The Diamond F94 X79D, ☏ . Comfy central place but old-fashioned, feels kind-of 1980s. B&B double €150.
- 1 Ard na Breatha, Railway Park, Middle Drumrooske F94 VF89 (off Lough Eske Rd, no access from N56), ☏ . Pleasant welcoming B&B north edge of town.
- 2 Harvey's Point, Lough Eske F94 E771, ☏ . Comfy upscale place with great lakeside setting. B&B double €140.
- 3 Mill Park Hotel, The Mullins F94 HD99 (off N56), ☏ . Beautiful edge-of-town hotel, with 110 large rooms en suite, child friendly, and fitness centre and pool. B&B double €170.
- 4 Lough Eske Castle, Lough Eske F94 HX59, ☏ . A Tudorbethan manor was built in 1868 and owned by Major-General Henry George White (1835-1906), who's buried by the nearby Celtic Cross. It was ruined by a fire in 1939 but re-built as the present hotel in 2007, hence the squeaky-clean "castle". It gets rave reviews for comfort and service. B&B double €500.
- Castle Murray House on the coast 12 km west of town is closed for renovation in 2021.
- 5 Donegal Estuary Holiday Homes (2 km west of Donegal Town), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Detached cottages that sleep 5, available for weekly rental. Prices vary by month.
As of July 2021, the town has 5G with Vodafone, and 4G with Eir and Three.
- St. John's Point, at 10km away from the town, is one of Ireland's longest headlands. Its grey limestone slabs are home to a multitude of plants, including Marsh Orchids. There is a safe and well-sheltered beach, which is an ideal picnicking area. Sea angling for numerous species of saltwater fish is available from various points on this headland.
- Murvagh beach, which is in close proximity to Donegal Town (10 minutes drive), is a long sandy beach surrounded by scenic landscape. The nearby forest provides facilities for picnicking, games (etc.).
- Rossnowlagh is a very popular blue flag beach and is located 15 minutes from the town. The beach is very popular with swimmers and surfers and those keen to participate in water sports. A safe clean strand of some 5 miles is available for swimming, surfing, angling, recreation and walking. On the closest Saturday that falls before the 12th July, the seaside resort plays host to a very popular 12th July parade for brethren from the Republic of Ireland. Several thousand Orangemen from both sides of the border flock to the place for a real family day out.
- The Wild Atlantic Way passes through Donegal Town, offering scenic views of Ireland's western coast.