30,000 people visited famous Donegal castle last year

Moving Mevagh Forward meets councillors

By Staff Reporter

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30,000 people visited famous Donegal castle in 2016

The opening of Doe Castle last year

With Doe Castle drawing 30,000 visitors last year, the local group Moving Mevagh Forward is discussing plans for the future of the 15th-century castle.

Moving Mevagh Forward is in talks with the Office of Public Works (OPW) over steps that could enhance the visitor experience there, committee members told Glenties Municipal District councillors at their January meeting.

But if the Creeslough-area castle is to cope with more visitors, the committee will need council help, councillors heard.

Former councillor Noel McBride and Janet McIver, members of Moving Mevagh Forward, said the narrow approach roads need to be widened, and would benefit from passing bays. They also said the car park could use a modest upgrading, along with additional signage directing visitors to the castle.

“We're all working on a voluntary basis at moment and there’s only so much we can do,” Mr. McBride said.

New guided tours of the castle were launched last July after an extensive renovation project. Volunteers conduct tours of the castle on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in July and August, drawing about 2,000 visitors last year.

The Doe Castle grounds are opened to the public seven days a week; in all, the castle attracted 30,000 visitors last year. RTÉ broadcaster Sean O’Rourke was at the castle last July to launch the new visitor experience, including the tours and colourful, informative panels on the castle grounds.

Built by the O’Donnells and given to the Mac Sweeneys, the Gaelic Irish fortified towerhouse has sat for centuries at a spectacular view of Sheephaven Bay and tells an important story, Ms. McIver said. OPW took public ownership of the historic castle in the 1930s.

“Going forward we would like to be able to offer more tours over an extended time period,” Ms. McIver said. Doe Castle is also a discovery point on the Wild Atlantic Way tourism route.

More than half of visitors who signed the guest book at the castle came from abroad, with most coming from the United Kingdom, followed by the United States and other European countries.

“People came from every continent except Antarctica and the Arctic,” Ms. McIver said. 

Cllr. Terence Slowey, council cathaoirleach, said councillors would look into what they could do in terms of support. “It is a great visitor experience and it has such a great story,” he said.