Donegal castle was built in the c. 1474 by Red Hugh O’Donnell sits beside the River Eske. The castle was originally the home of the O’Donnell clan. Around the same time he and his wife built a friary for the local Franciscans, and legend has it there’s a tunnel connecting the two, however this was never confirmed.
In 1607, the O’Donnell clan left Ireland in the Flight of the Earls. A few of years later in 1611, an English captain, Basil Brooke was awarded the castle and its lands as part of the Plantation of Ulster.
Before the O’Donnells left they damaged the towerhouse of the castle to prevent it from being used against the remaining gaelic clans.
The new owners restored and extended the castle in the Jacobean style; adding new windows, a gable and manor house. The Brooke family lived there until 1670 when they moved to Co. Fermanagh. Around the same time they sold the castle to the Gore family, who later became the Earls of Arran. They allowed the castle to fall into ruin. In 1898 the 5th Earl of Arran vested the castle to The Office of Public Works.
Restoration of Donegal Castle
In the early 1990s the Office of Public Works partially restored the castle. It’s open for public tours.