Donegal Town Attractions

10 Top Attractions in Donegal Town

River Eske Estuary, Donegal Town, Northwest IrelandRiver Eske Estuary, Donegal Town

This picturesque Celtic town in South Donegal is built around the Eske estuary, where the river Eske flows into Donegal Bay.

Between Chieftain Red Hugh O'Donnell's Celtic castle, historic Donegal Abbey, cruising on the Donegal Bay Waterbus, and the fascinating rail heritage at the Donegal Railway Centre, there's plenty to see and do here.

In addition to that, you'll find great shopping and a nice variety of entertainment.  You might also enjoy these ten Donegal Town day trips.

And if you're wondering about hospitality and travel options for this town, you'll find an overview here.

Enjoy the friendly, relaxed atmosphere as you stroll around and discover the varied attractions . . .

Donegal Town Celtic Sights

Donegal Castle

This historic Chieftains' castle, built in 1474, commands a prominent location right in the heart of Donegal Town.  After a fascinating and turbulent past, it is now beautifully restored and open to the public.


Donegal Abbey

Stroll through the serene ruins of this Franciscan friary overlooking Donegal Bay.  It played a profound, unique role in Ireland's history . . . particularly after it was destroyed!


Celtic Chieftain Red Hugh O'Donnell I, Donegal Town, Northwest IrelandRed Hugh O'Donnell Monument

Red Hugh Monument

This masterfully crafted, life size bronze sculpture commemorates Chieftain of Donegal, Red Hugh O'Donnell the First.  The powerful Gaelic Celtic Chieftain built Donegal Castle and facilitated the construction of Donegal Abbey.

The Chieftain is portrayed holding his battle sword and his royal scepter.

Red Hugh O'Donnell was a descendant of Heremon, the first Gaelic Celtic High King of Ireland, through Niall of the Nine Hostages.

The monument, by Irish artist Maurice Harron, is located at the end of the pier, beside Donegal Abbey where the celebrated Chieftain is buried.

The Workhouse

This is one of many built in Ireland, to house the destitute, several years before the horrific 'Great Famine' that claimed countless Celtic Irish lives.

Part of this grim building still exists.  It is now incorporated into the local hospital.  You can see it on the outskirts of town, just a short walk from the center.

Famine Pot Used To Feed Up To 800 People Daily During The Irish FamineFamine pot used to feed c.800 people daily

Famine Graveyard

This is where the town's deceased victims of the 'Great Famine' were buried in unmarked graves from 1845 to 1849 and beyond.

You'll find this simple, poignant cemetery a 15 minute stroll from the town center, just before the hospital.

There is also a 'famine pot' there.  It was used to feed gruel to the starving.

Donegal Town, the Lighter Side!


For its relatively small size, this town offers a wonderful, varied and very enjoyable shopping experience, conveniently situated around the central Diamond area.  You'll also find a few specialty shops at Craft Village, just a short drive from the Diamond.

Look for authentic Irish and Donegal Tweed fabrics, tweed garments, and aran knitwear.  You'll also find pottery, glass and china, linens, antiques, artisan and health foods, souvenirs, jewellery, accessories, fashion outlets and more.

Donegal Bay Waterbus Cruise

Donegal Bay Waterbus, Northwest IrelandDonegal Bay Waterbus

This fun, scenic cruise combines a little history with a little nature . . . and a little cabaret!

Look for seals, dolphins, and wild birds such as cormorants, cranes and swans.  Consider it a bonus if they show up, though, as they're in their own free, natural habitat.

A lighthearted cabaret and 'sing-along' is provided by the captain and crew on the return 'leg'.  Refreshments are available.

Tickets and departure times at the nearby ticket office.


Whatever time of year you visit Donegal Town, there's always a variety of entertainment available.  Enjoy live traditional Celtic music in bars and hotels.  Contemporary music concerts are occasionally held outdoors on the Diamond and some of the hotels offer cabarets.  Experience popular annual events like the Taste of Donegal food festival, vintage motor shows and the regatta.

Donegal Railway Heritage Centre

Donegal Railway Heritage CentreDonegal Railway Heritage Centre

If you're a train and railway enthusiast, you'll be thrilled to discover this little gem of a railway heritage museum, located just a short walk from the town's centre.  The Donegal Railway Heritage Centre contains a wealth of exhibits from the county's former narrow gauge railway system.

See vintage photos, posters, tickets, original oil paintings and more.  You'll love the working scale model vintage railway.  It features the former Donegal and Killybegs stations.  View rare 1950s film footage in the comfort of Railcar 15.

You'll also find vintage rolling stock and the Newtowncunningham signal box, all restored with meticulous attention to detail . . .

  • Coach 28, Oldbury Carriage & Wagon Co, 1893
  • Coach 58 with original 1879 chassis
  • Railcar Trailer 5, built 1929
  • Red Van,1887, with original chassis & metalwork

River Bank Walk

Enjoy a leisurely stroll or jog along this lovely tree-lined nature walk on the banks of the river Eske and scenic Eske estuary.  Wildlife includes goldfinch, grey heron, grey wagtail, wren, siskin, as well as various butterflies.  Look across the estuary for views of Donegal Abbey, and the shimmering waters of Donegal Bay.

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Donegal Town