Stationed at a bend of the River Eske, not far from the mouth of Donegal Bay, the castle is nowadays a much frequented attraction that is less than an hour's drive from the Radisson Blu Hotel in Letterkenny.
About Donegal CastleSir Hugh O'Donnell, chief of the clan O'Donnell, commenced construction of Donegal Castle in 1474, possibly near the site of an earlier Viking stronghold. The castle was held by the clan until 1607, when the O'Donnell chieftains escaped to France during the Flight of the Earls, following the Nine Years War. Upon his departure, Chief Rory O'Donnell set fire to the castle to prevent it from being taken by the incoming English lords, but it was ultimately acquired and restored by one Basil Brooke, an English army captain.
Brooke not only rebuilt the castle keep, but also added a Jacobean-style manor house wing, as well as modern additions such as windows and a gable. The castle remained in the Brooke family for many generations, although by the 18th century it was mostly a ruin.
In 1898 the property was donated by its owner, the Earl of Arran, to the Office of Public Works, which eventually restored much of the castle. Visitors today not only gain a sense of the castle's original structure, but can also enjoy fine interiors that include French tapestries and Persian rugs from the period.