March 10th, 2017, I arrived in Donegal. Donegal is North of Sligo. It’s actually the Republic of Ireland’s northernmost county. Donegal (Dún na nGall in Irish) means “The Fort of the Foreigners “. It is well known for its coastal views and heavy accents. I only got a tiny little taste of the vast coastline because I was relying solely on public transportation. When I’m brave enough, I’ll rent a car and go back to see more of Donegal! As for the accents, I don’t notice an immense difference, but any Irish person will tell you that Donegal is one of the regions that is well known for having a very distinct regional accent!
Fun fact: Enya is from County Donegal. That is a thing you now know. Don’t remember Enya? Please go stand in the corner while a cultured individual plays this song on repeat until you remember every lyric for the rest of your life! Just kidding. Not really though. Go on!
Enya, for the one who doesn’t know Enya. (You are welcome) … Moving on!
I spent the bulk of my time in Donegal in the town of Donegal itself. I went, I saw, and now I am reporting back, starting with Donegal Castle.
The O Donnells (who were big shots because they ruled the kingdom of Tir Chonaill from 1200-1601) lived in this castle. From what I can understand, they were not the ones to build it. The first part of the castle, I am told, was likely built as a part of a Viking fort in the 9th and 10th centuries.
Where was Canada during the 9th and 10th centuries… I mean, the landmass was there. The First Nations people were likely there doing their thing without European cultural interruption… If only we had a time machine!
…Back to the castle! As time went along, additions were added to the first tower and now we are left with this:
It was nice. Warmer than most of the castles I have visited so far. Not only temperature-wise, but the whole thing. The look, the choice of wood and furnishings. Not original probably, but it gives you some insight that castles were probably not always just stone cold walls and floors.
Fun fact: The Garde-robe in this castle included the “toilet”. It’s really just a hole in the wall slanted downwards as a chute that flows freely to the outside of the castle garnished with a toilet seat for comfort. Probably not the wall you want to lean against while you’re having a rest. The garde-robe aspect of this whole thing is that it really was a garde-robe; a cloakroom. There were holes in the wall where sticks would have been inserted and robes hung to benefit from the “disinfecting properties” of the ammonia wafting from the urine in the toilet. Old school laundry… I’ll stick to Tide thanks.
After visiting the castle, I walked down to the Abbey Graveyard where the Donegal Friary also once stood. Cemeteries here are such a great place to grasp the history and to really see first hand how long people have been in Ireland. To think they really have been here way longer than we think about. History does not really go far before the Vikings in Ireland history.
The Friary was founded in 1474. It was wrecked in 1588 by the English, rebuilt by the Franciscan Friars four years later, only to be wrecked again in 1601, it was ruined again by the English. It is speculated that some of the stones used to build additions onto Donegal Castle would have come from the friary and surrounding cemetery.
While I wove through the headstones, I came across a very eerie one:
Also in Donegal, other places worth checking out include the Donegal Craft Village with artisans (in their studios) selling pieces made of glass, textiles, paintings, jewelry, wood sculpting, paper art, felt pieces, etc…
If you’re hungry and into Indian food, Chandpur is not to be missed. I highly recommend the lamb balti curry.
During my stay in Donegal, I made time to check out Bundoran…