The name Donegal comes from the Irish “Dhun na nGall”, translated as Fort of the Foreigner, and is believed to have come from a Viking fort at this location. In the centre of Donegal town on River Eske is the beautifully restored 15th Century castle.
The fortified castle keep was built by the chief of the O’Donnell clan and stronghold for this ruling family. It is widely regarded as one of the finest Gaelic castles in Ireland. Before he fled Hugh Roe O’Donnell was forced to set fire to his tower before it fell into English hands.
After the Flight of the Earls the castle and its grounds were granted to the English Captain Basil Brooke, (from Colebrooke near brookeborough, Co Fermanagh). Brook rebuilt the Castle and added a floor to the partially destroyed keep as well as adding the Jacobean-style manor house wing. It later fell into ruin in the 18th century. The great room with a large fireplace still has the Brooke’s coat of arms and floor-to-ceiling window.
The Castle can be seen from the Diamond, which is the main square in the town. Head north west towards Bridge Street. The Castle is situated on the corner of Bridge Street and Castle Street.