Welcome to Photos of Donegal, a site dedicated to the stunning county of Donegal in Ireland.
Donegal is one of those places; it has so many hidden gems and some of the most breathtaking sceneries to be found in Ireland. The amount of history attached to a lot of places in Donegal makes it even more fascinating to explore. From the ancient Standing Stones to the abandoned cottages, Donegal certainly has an interesting story to tell.
I’m an amateur photographer and when I say amateur I really mean I just know how to point & shoot with a camera. I’m not trying to be an expert on photography, far from it, but I do like to capture images of things that I am seeing on my weekly travels of County Donegal. After several hundred photos later I decided to launch photosofdonegal.com to share some of the places I like to explore and learn about.
About County Donegal
With a population of over 160,000, Donegal is Ireland’s most northerly county and is the largest county in the province of Ulster. With its coast line looking out into the Atlantic Ocean it can offer some dramatic scenes all year round.
If I was to write about the history of Donegal it would probably take me a lifetime just to research it. After 30 years of exploring this ancient county I’m still learning something new every single day. So with that in mind let me give you a brief.
The history of Donegal
The history of Donegal dates back to prehistoric times, evident by the amount of monuments that can be found all over the county today. From various ancient tombs to the ancient standing stones you can tell this area was of great importance to those who settled.
Donegal also played an important role with the spread of Christianity in Ireland with St Patrick himself being called to the area to spread the word of God. Also there was St Columba (Colmcille), he was born in Donegal and played a critical role in the monastic movement in Ireland and founded several sites across Donegal including Turas of Glencolmcille. The birth place of Colmcille is still held as a site of great importance and makes an interesting place to visit.
Also known as Thír Chonaill, Dongeal was once the home of Ireland’s most powerful and richest Irish clans. Clann Ó Domhnaill (O’Donnell Clan) who held their seat at Donegal Castle built a number of forts and castles to defend their kingdom, many of which lay in ruin today. O’Donnell Clan were inaugurated at Doon Rock near the village of Kilmacrenan. Doon Rock was also the site of a mass rock, a place where religious mass was held in secret due to the English outlawing the practice of Catholicism.
The O’Donnell Clan, along with the powerful Clann Uí Néill (O’Neill Clan Clan) defended the province from invading English forces. With much resistance the English were unable to gain full control of Ireland until after the Nine Years War. By 1602 the English were gaining ground in Donegal and by 1607 control when family members of the O’Donnell Clan, along with the O’Neill Clan, fled Ireland for Spain. This is known as the Flight of Earls.
After the Flight of the Earls the English went about starting plantations in Ulster in order to gain complete control of the province. These plantations would force natives off their land to make way for the new settlers who became land owners over the rest of the population. This event alone tightened the grip on Donegal and its people.
Many areas of Donegal suffered greatly due to poverty and when the Irish famine occurred in the late 1840’s it would have a devastating effect on the local population. With the famine and mass emigration to places such as America and Australia the population severely declined. It 1841 the census recorded the population of Donegal was 296,000 but within a 10 year period it dwindled by 41,000 people with a further removal of 18,000 people after another 10 years. You’ll find today a lot of old ruined cottages dotted around Donegal which is a stark reminder on how bad things actually were during these times.
A further blow to Donegal was when the partition of Ireland came about in the 1920’s. Donegal had its neighbouring counties in Ulster partitioned off to create Northern Ireland, a state under English rule that still exists today. When the border line went up Donegal was only connected to the rest of the Irish Free State by a few kilometres of land. This had a terrible impact on the local economy and soon Donegal became known as the forgotten county.
This is not even scratching the surface when it comes to Donegal and its history, as I said it would take a life time for me to cover everything. To make things interesting I’ll be adding snippets of history about the photos I upload, things that I’ve picked up on over the years for you to enjoy and share.