"County Donegal, Ireland" lee.evelyn's Profile
Mount Errigal at 751 metres above sea level, is the highest mountain in County Donegal.
There is a record of an early Danish fortress being destroyed in the town by Murtagh Mac Lochlainn, High King of Ireland in 1159. The O'Donnell Castle in the town was built by the first Red Hugh and his wife Nuala. They also brought the Franciscan Monks to Donegal. The Abbey was built in the same year, 1474. There were two Red Hughs. the last one was more colourful. He was captured by the English and thrown into Dublin Castle but he eventually escaped and managed to make his way back to Donegal. It was said that he suffered frostbite during his escape and as a result had to ride into battle from then on.
The O'Donnells were noted for their patronage of the church and learning. The Chieftains were always inaugurated by a head of the clan at a simple ceremony held on Doon Rock (see my tip in 'off the beaten path') at Kilmacrennan. The Chief, or King, was inaugurated by one of the nobles of the clan presenting him with a straight white wand saying, "Receive the sovereignty of this county and preserve equal and impartial justice in every part of its dominions". The white wand was to remind him that he should be unbiased in his judgements and upright in his actions. I am afraid his cousin Niall Garbh O'Donnell did not subscribe to these high sentiments for he betrayed the family. However he became reconciled with his clan and was in fact the last Chieftain of Tirconnaill. He was inaugurated at Doon Rock in 1603. He was later imprisoned by the English and died in the Tower of London in 1621.
The last great battle in which the O'Donnells were involved was the battle of Kinsale in 1601 where they were badly defeated. Red Hugh went to Spain to seek help to resume the fight but he died there. Other Chieftains including the O'Donnells and O'Neills were forced into exile. this became known as the Flight of the Earls and it took place in Rathmullan in 1607. Before going they partially destroyed O'Donnells castle to prevent the English using it.
This led to the plantation of Ulster. O'Donnells castle and their lands were given to an English captain, Basil Brooke, who carried out major reconstruction work and added a wing to it known as the manor house. Basil Brooke eventually moved to Lough Eske where he built a house, which was later to become Lough Eske Castle.
The Franciscans were brought to Donegal by Hugh O'Donnell and his wife Nuala and it was at her request that they set up a community here. They worked on their famous Annals of the Four Masters which is a full account of Gaelic Ireland since what they took to be its birth until the Flight of the Earls. It took several years to compile, it was written up from 1632 to 1636.
(Photograph to follow)
'An Gaeltacht' is the term used to refer to those areas of Ireland where the Irish language (Gaeilge) is spoken as a community language beside English.
The Irish-speaking communities are situated mainly along the western seaboard, and the Gaeltacht covers extensive areas of counties Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Kerry.
Oideas Gael in Glencolumbkille or Gleann Cholm Cille, holds Irish language courses & cultural activity programmes in the summer.
Quite often signposts in the Ghaeltacht are in Irish and can cause confusion among tourists. If you are not sure, it is better to stop ask someone
A few examples:
Dhun na nGall : Donegal
Ard an Ratha : Ardara
Na Gleanntea : Glenties
Alt An Chorainn : Burtonport
An Clochan Liath : Dungloe
Leitir Mhic an Bhaird : Lettermacaward
Gaoth Dobhair : Gweedore
Croithli : Crolly
Cnoc Fola : Bloody Foreland
An Charraig : Carrick
Cill Chartaigh : Kilcar
Sliabh Liag : Slieve League
According to geologists, Donegal is one of the most complex areas in Ireland in terms of its geology. It is one of the best studied. The 'Gweebarra Fault', which was carved through the granite rock by glacial erosion, is one of the key geological feature of the county. This fault line was formed as part of the earth movement that led to the Caledonian mountsins, and the fault continues under the Atlantic and forms another diagonal rift through Loch Ness, Loch Lochy and Loch Long in the Scottish Highlands.
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