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Donegal town guide

Donegal, up in the north west of Ireland offers a striking mixture of coastal beauty, rambling hills and mountains, and lovely lakes. The town itself sits at the head of Donegal Bay with the Barnesmore Mountains as a back-drop. There are records of an early Danish fortress in the town and many warlike skirmishes have peppered the early history of the region.

In later times as the region passed into a more peaceful period, the area became one of estates and small crofts. It was in the crofts that the tradition of handloom weaving, what became Donegal Tweed, was established. Local plants and lichens would be used to dye the new wool, which would then woven into a distinctive pattern on the handloom. Even today the click clack of the wooden shuttles can be heard from many a whitewashed cottage as the tradition continues.

One of the features of Donegal town was the fairs, here the local farmers would trade their produce and livestock with many a colourful encounter between buyer and seller settled with the aid of a middleman who would intervene as the deal was near to closing with the words "Here now split the difference and don't break my word" This would go on a number of times with much hand slapping as the deal was concluded, how different a spectacle these fairs must have been.

The many attractive tracts of countryside in this wild and beautiful area can easily be explored by hire car.

No mention of Donegal would be complete without reference to the County Donegal Railways, one of the quaint narrow gauge lines built to bring prosperity to a poor region, but ultimately overtaken by the motor vehicle. The visitor can find out what it was like to travel on the railway at the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre.

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