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County Donegal cultural attractions

onegal has a robust arts scene and sense of culture. There is a strong live music tradition, the visual arts flourish here and the county where the great playwright Brian Friel chose to live has a real literary tradition too. Festivals are the place to go for a flavour of the arts here. The Lughnasa FrielFest is a cross-border affair, with readings, plays and entertainment taking place in County Donegal and County Derry-Londonderry. The Earagail Arts Festival and Donegal Gathering is a big event or as it’s described, 23 days of music, theatre visual arts, film, literature, circus and carnival. Its programme is also very eclectic.

If you like rock, you’ll really enjoy the annual Rory Gallagher International Festival. This rock and blues shindig is a tribute to the brilliant guitarist from Ballyshannon who died too young and features his kind of music with groups like Band of Friends. Dance is well represented in this part of the world. If fast and furious folk dancing is your thing, there are regular Scottish ceilidh nights at Harvey’s Point Hotel outside Donegal Town. The Gary Blair Ceilidh Band provides suitable jigs and reels, admission is free, and it all takes place in the Garden Suite. The two Celtic neighbours, Scotland and Ireland, share certain traditions and the Halfway House, Burnfoot in Co Donegal, hosts events like a magnificent Midsummer Hootin Annie with the Alistair Scott Ceilidh Band, and food to keep you going, for a reasonable 10 euros.

Our picks

Silver Birch Gallery & Studio
Sharon McDaid Silver Birch Gallery

Kinnaglug, Malin Road, Carndonagh, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Award-winning artist Sharon McDaid works primarily in oil on canvas and is now regarded as an emerging talent in Irish contemporary painting. Her paintings are inspired by her native Inishowen. These distinctive works capture perfectly the immediacy and diversity of the ever-changing light and shade of the Irish landscape. Over the past 18 years, Sharon has exhibited her work widely at home and abroad and her works have become part of many public and private collections. She also exhibits from her own gallery/studio in Carndonagh, North Inishowen. The gallery houses three spacious exhibition rooms that carry a body of original oils, mixed media artworks and a large collection of limited edition Giclee prints. Visit website

Stephen Bennett Studio Gallery
Stephen Bennett Studio Gallery

Stephen Bennett Studio Gallery, Carn, Ardara, Co. Donegal, F94 Y184, Ireland

In the town of Ardara County Donegal you can visit professional painter Stephen Bennett at his studio gallery. The gallery houses Stephen’s latest original paintings which include figurative works and landscapes. An excellent range of limited prints is also available. Stephen is a well established artist exhibiting in major galleries throughout the country, and was chosen to represent Ireland at the prestigious Florence Biennale in December 2005. Visit website

Inishowen Maritime Museum & Planetarium
Family in a museum

4 Coastguard Station, Eleven Ballyboes, Greencastle, Co. Donegal, F93 T2KA, Ireland

Inishowen Maritime Museum & Planetarium is located at the Old Coast Guard station over looking Greencastle Harbour on the banks of the beautiful Lough Foyle. The services and activities provided are as diverse as the users, from a maritime museum, planetarium, nautical gift shop and cafe to hosting temporary exhibitions, concerts and fairs. The museum continues to grow and develop exhibitions/projects to promote the county’s heritage through tourism, membership and social networks. Visit website

Ballyshannon & District Museum
Child in museum

Second Floor Slevins Dept Store Market Yard Townparks, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, Ireland

Ballyshannon & District Museum opened in 2013 and is located on the 2nd floor of Slevins Department Store in the centre of “Ireland’s oldest town”. The museum contains information, exhibits and artefacts covering many topics including ancient times, WW1, WW2, the railways, Medieval times, local battles, the Famine, fishing, famous Ballyshannon connections, Spanish Armada, Rory Gallagher and the War of Independence.

Donegal Craft Village

Lurganboy, Donegal, F94 W9NY, Ireland

Located on the Wile Atlantic Way, Donegal Craft Village is situated two kilometres outside Donegal town on the R267 towards Ballyshannon. It is a creative collective of craft and art studios all clustered around a beautiful courtyard. The craft village is also home to the award-winning Aroma coffee shop and mini bakery, famous for its divine cakes and mouthwatering lunches. Visit website

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County Donegal attractions

County Donegal restaurants and cafes

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County Donegal nightlife venues

Image credits: ©Anna Kolosyuk/Unsplash; Arkady Chubykin/; Sharon McDaid/Comtemporary Irish Art/; Stephen Bennett Studio Gallery

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