The Main Facts
Nestling in the heart of Inishowen lies the town of Carndonagh (Carn Domhnach), the fastest growing town in Inishowen. Carndonagh is a busy farming town and its focal point for shoppers and youngsters alike is the central diamond, which was designed by a local architect, Gary Doherty. From this diamond with its seating areas and greenery, four roads meet from North, South, East and West. The traffic around the diamond used to be a nightmare but the one-way system and new ring roads have made it much easier for the motorist. The architectural designs of shops and offices in the centre of the town are varied, interesting and colourful. The buildings hold an old world charm that tourists love. Also, according to last weeks Sunday Times, Carndonagh is one of the most popular places for the English to move to in Ireland.
The surrounding area has a lot of historical standing stones and places of ancient archaeological history. The most famous structure being the Donagh Cross, a rare ancient relic that belonged to an early Christian monastery that is reputed to have been founded by St. Patrick in 442AD. It is said that the saint consecrated his churches on Sundays, hence Donagh (from Irish Domnaig - Sunday). The cross is now protected by a dry cover, on the road to Clonmany.
Due to its central location in Inishowen, Carndonagh is within a short driving distance to many beautiful sandy beaches such as Lagg and the Five Fingers Strand in Malin, Culdaff, Pollan Bay, Tullagh and Kinnegoe Bay.
If it’s more animated events you like then Carndonagh has a lot to offer. Irish dancing, modern dance, speech & drama, scouts and music are all in Carn. It is also the home of the Inishowen Gospel Choir and Inishowen Carnival Group.
Driving into Carn (as the town is locally known), especially from the Malin road, you will see the magnificent Italianate Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart. This imposing building was built between 1942 and 1945 at the cost of ₤100,000. Each stone for the granite-built building was hand carved and laid by master Stone masons from all over the country. It is the largest ecclesiastical building in the peninsula and can seat up to 1500 people in its enveloping structure. On the dome stand four statues designed by Albert Power R.H.A. and carved from Dublin granite.
Walking up to the church is an experience in itself with the grand pathway leading up from the diamond. When on the top of the hill you get a great vantage point to see the glorious surrounding countryside. Diarmuid Gavin, the Dublin based garden designer is putting together a plan for a new park to be built on the hillside near the church. This it is hoped will be a main tourist attraction for the area and a great resource for the local community.
Driving in from Buncrana you will pass the Carndonagh Community School (one of the largest Secondary schools in Ireland) and just past this is the Protestant Church whose belfry is said to house a bell taken from the ‘Trinidad Valencera’ one of the ships of the Spanish Armada which sank off the Inishowen coast at Kinnagoe Bay in 1588.
On the main road to Quigley’s Point at the bottom of Chapel Street is the Colgan Hall, a local parish Temperance Hall named after John Colgan a renowned scholar and member of one of the chief families of Inishowen. He was born in 1592 at Priestown near Carndonagh and was ordained into the priesthood 1618. He later joined the Franciscan Order at Louvain in 1620 and wrote a series of works on the lives of the Irish Saints. Up until his retirement (due to ill health in 1651) he held the influential position of Commissary of the Franciscan Colleges of Louvain, Vielum and Prague.
Did you know?
Carndonagh GAA - the local Gaelic football club, won Donegal Club of the Year in 2006
Carndonagh is also the location of the studios of Inishowen Community Radio (ICR FM), one of three radio stations in the county and the only community station in the north west of the Republic.
Famous Carndonagh Folk
Hazel McKintyre http://www.hazelmcintyre.com/ (Culdaff)
The Michael Galbraith Orchestra
Things to do.
Carndonagh is within a short drive of many fine golf courses, the most famous of which is Ballyliffin Golf Club
Horse riding along the nearby beaches makes a welcome break from high speed travelling in cars.
The Culdaff and Clonmany Rivers are noted for substantial runs of spring salmon (a licence is needed though) and sea fishing is not far away. The Inishowen 100 runs through Carn, so there are plenty of opportunities for scenic cycling journeys.Hill walking on nearby Slieve Sneacht is also a very popular day out.
Carndonagh has a long tradition of agriculture and fairs. The annual Inishowen Agricultural Society’s Show is held near the Inishowen Co-Op every year and is where farmers and exhibitors show their animals and livestock. The show has grown over the years to incorporate cooking and floral skills, children’s entertainment, a dog show and a vintage car rally.
Carndonagh railway station opened on 1 July 1907 but finally closed on 2 December 1935. Swilly bus service runs regualrly from the town and takes you to Buncrana and Derry. As with most places around the peninsula, private motor cars are the main means of transport. Cycle paths have been suggested for the Inishowen 100.
And the shopping
Carndonagh is a busy town with a large catchment area and there are plenty of shops to get all your provisions both in the Diamond and the shopping centres on the outskirts of the town. New commercial developments are still being built to cope with the increasing demand for shop space. The Diamond is still a vibrant place and has a fantastic choice of shops.
Places to visit
Carndonagh is ideally positioned to get to loads of attractions.
Doagh island visitors centre. Check out the history of the area.
Carrickabraghey Castle. A ruined castle situated on Friars rock in the Isle of Doagh.
Glenevin Waterfall. The well maintained walk up a winding path through woodland is rewarded by the cascading fresh mountain water of the waterfall pouring over black rock from a height of 30ft. The basin at the foot of the waterfall is called Pohl-an-eas - this comes from the foam which lies on the surface of the pool
Culdaff Blue Flag Beach. Back again after a short absence. Catch those waves…
The recycling centre. To process all of your household waste… (When it opens again…)