Donegal ("Dún na nGall" is the Irish for "the fort of foreigners") is often said to be a gem among counties. The most northerly county in Ireland was relatively cut off from the rest of Ireland, geographically, historically and culturally, but this has worked only to its advantage. Donegal has maintained a truly wild and rugged scenery, for which it is famous, from the landscapes offered by the Blue Stack Mountains (in the south) to the miles of beautiful coastal line with secluded bays, in the north-west. Apart from its unsurpassed coastal and mountain scenery, the county also boasts deep glens and many beautiful lakes. It is said to have been kept secret by those in the know! Thus, for a seeker of solitude, it is the best place, since it has only recently become known to tourists.
There are several towns worth visiting, among which the most sizeable is Letterkenny, situated at the mouth of Lough Swilly and very well served in the arts department. It has an Arts Centre that also houses the county library, the County Museum is located here, and, above all, there's a recently-built theatre in this town, An Grianán, with a 345-seater auditorium and a café and bar, that has regular programmes of contemporary dance, music, comedy and community theatre.
Bundoran is a very popular resort, famous for both the spectacular scenery it offers (the contours of Donegal Bay) and for the well-cared for beach. Apart from swimming, there are some other outdoor activities nearby that include angling, surfing and golf. The visitor may even take a ride on the beach or have a long walk on one of the walking trails along the Cliffs of Roughey. Donegal Town Castle is just about 10 miles up the coast, and Belleek Visitors Centre on the Fermanagh border is not far away, either. The Waterworld in Bundoran is another local attraction, so there are plenty of things to do here.
Killybegs is Ireland's biggest fishing port, and many remains of small stone huts can still be found here ("Na Cealla Beaga", from which the name "Killybegs" is derived, means "the little cells"). Fishing, swimming, sailing, surfing, golf, are at tourists' disposal. Not to mention that the area is known as a haven for artists of all types, as they find here solitude and inspiration.
Donegal is, as a matter of fact, part of the "Gaeltacht" area, where Irish, or "Gaeilge", is still the primary language. The Gaeltacht is maintaining a link to a culture and tradition that is thousands of years old. It survived in the relatively isolated area, and primarily in the West because the poorness of the land gave the English no reason to be interested in the area. Communication is by no means a problem in these areas, though, as nearly everyone speaks English.
During the summer, there are a lot of fairs and festivals, ranging from the traditional fairs, such as Harvest Fair, in September, or Trad Music Fair, in October, to the world-famous August bikers' festival held in the "twin towns" of Ballybofey and Stranorlar, where motorcycle enthusiasts come from 15 European countries, as well as from Canada and the U.S.. Farragal Arts Festival, held in July, offers to the visitor a lot of fine music, dance, theatre and beautiful works of art.