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O'Donnell Castle

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Donegal Castle, by the banks of the river Eske, was built by Hugh Roe O'Donnell in 1474. His son - the legendary Red Hugh O'Donnell - fought bravely against the English in many a battle, one of which is commemorated in the song "O'Donnell Abu". Sadly, his last great battle was to be Kinsale in 1601 when his army marched non-stop from Donegal and were badly defeated. The tactics decided in the castle prior to the battle were to have significant ramifications for the country.

It is said that Red Hugh, aware of his imminent fate, destroyed the castle before leaving, "to prevent this fortress of the Gael becoming a fortress of the Gall". On capture, the English were able to fortify such castles and use them as a base to attack the Irish. However, this is what happened with the castle being granted to Captain Basil Brooke in 1611. He extended the manor house to the existing tower house and is indeed claimed to be the architect responsible for the layout of Donegal Town Centre.

After passing through several generations of Brookes before falling into decay in the 18th century, the then owner (the Earl of Arran) placed the castle in the guardianship of the Office of Public Works in 1898.

Only in recent times has the castle been restored, furnished throughout with Persian rugs and French tapestries. Writing about the castle's history, the author John M. Feehan goes as far as to suggest that the whole history of Ireland for three hundred years was decided within the castle walls before Kinsale. He recommends that we should "step up to them, touch, and say a silent prayer for the brave men who blundered so badly in those far-off days".

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1821
2002
The riverside view

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