For those in the know, Donegal is a word that can make the heart skip a beat. The first few notes of Paul Brady's version of 'The... more » Homes of Donegal' can make a grown man cry and its scenic splendor can stop a hardened hillwalker in her tracks. Put simply, it is a must see location and any trip you're planning to Ireland should factor in a county with seriously big country and a way of life that will appeal to those in hope of a rural idyll with a lot of fun thrown in.
Surrounded on one side by the relentless Atlantic and on the other side by the United Kingdom, Donegal has approximately 3.5 miles to connect it with the rest of the Republic of Ireland. The other great anthem of the county, 'Las Vegas in the Hills of Donegal', sings jocosely about the notion of an autonomous Donegal, but in a way it always has been its own place; not quite north and not quite south - just uniquely Donegal.
Selecting the places you should try and visit in such a big and varied county was not easy. Blue Flag beaches, outstanding golf courses and heritage centres feature prominently. Landmark attractions like Slieve League, Glenveagh and Malin Head could of course not be overlooked. By and large, we've left out commercial ventures. We've covered the whole county and hope that you'll find plenty of out of the way gems along the route.
The county has a number of key locations - the Donegal Bay area, the Glencolmcille and Dawros Bay peninsulas, the Rosses, the offshore islands, Gweedore, the northern headlands, Inishowen and the Laggan and Finn valleys are all worth some time to visit. Take at least a week and with any luck, you might get some good weather to really see the place brought to life with a resplendence of flora. Better still, keep coming back and get to see even more of the county on a series of weeks in Ireland's best kept secret. You'll be very glad you did. less «