donegal

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Donegal Castle, Ireland

Donegal Castle is situated in the center of Donegal town, County Donegal in the northwest of Ireland. For most of the last two centuries, the majority of the buildings lay in ruins but the castle was almost fully restored in the late 1990s.

The castle consists of a 15th-century rectangular keep with a later Jacobean style wing. The complex is sited on a bend in the River Eske, near the mouth of Donegal Bay, and is surrounded by a 17th-century boundary wall. There is a small gatehouse at its entrance mirroring the design of the keep. Most of the stonework was constructed from locally sourced limestone with some sandstone. The castle was the stronghold of the O'Donnell clan, Lords of Tír Conaill and one of the most powerful Gaelic families in Ireland from the 5th to the 16th centuries.

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Grianan of Aileach, Ireland

The Grianan of Aileach is an Iron Age stone fortress in Inishowen in County Donegal. It was occupied from about 800 BC until about 1200 AD. According to legend, it was built by the renowned Kind Daghda of the Tuatha de Danann. Supposedly, the king’s son Aeah was buried in the center of the fortress.

The fort was the seat of the Kingdom of Aileach, who ruled much of Ulster at the time. It was razed once by Vikings, and Murtaigh O’Brien, Kind of Munster finished the job in 1191. It was restored to its current state in the 19th century.

The actual purpose of the place is somewhat of a mystery.  Ring forts and hill forts were often used to contain cattle, and served as a defense when under attack. But the size and grandeur of the place leads most to believe it also had a special governmental purpose. In addition, there are theories that the word Gianana means sunny place, and that it also served as a sun temple.

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Beltany Stone Circle, County Donegal, Ireland

It has been suggested that the name of the site is linked to the Celtic festival of fertility known as ‘Beltane’, the anglicized name for the Gaelic May Day festival, commonly held on May 1st and historically observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

Beltany is a neolithic stone circle that dates from around 1400-800 BC and comprises 64 stones around a tumulus situated at the summit of Tops Hill. One stone is decorated with cup marks and many of the stones stand at an angle after being disturbed around a hundred years ago. There may originally have been about 80 stones. A single stone about 6.5 feet high stands to the southeast of the circle. It probably had some function related to the rites or ceremonies in the circle. A stone head was found at Beltany, probably carved between 400 BC and 400 AD. This may indicate that the stone circle was used for many centuries.

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Donegal Luxury Sports Shirt, 1955 ad by Tom Simpson