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Cool Coastal Castles in Donegal

By Go Visit Donegal ~ Updated on: 02 November 2021

Doe Castle or Caisleán na dTuath is situated on the shores of Sheephaven Bay on The Wild Atlantic Way. Nestling peacefully between the villages of Creeslough and Carrigart it is one of Ireland’s last remaining fortified Gaelic towers. A tranquil setting surrounded by water on three sides with a stone moat on the landward side. Marvel at the breath-taking backdrop to the south-west of Muckish Mountain. Doe Castle is accessible by water at high tide and the views from the sea are spectacular!

Doe Castle, Co. Donegal © Donegal Tourism

The castle is steeped in history, built in the 15th century and home to the McSweeney Clan for two hundred years, originally from Scotland they were Gallowglasse mercenaries. One of them, Eoghan Og II, fostered  the young Red Hugh O’Donnell at Doe in the 1580s and gave shelter to shipwrecked Spanish Armada sailors in 1588. The last chief of Doe, Maolmhuire an Bhata Bhui was knighted by Elizabeth I in 1599 but subsequently fought with Red Hugh at The Battle of Kinsale in 1601.  After the Irish defeat at Kinsale, Doe became an English military garrison. A grave slab dated 1544 with carvings of an elaborate cross and spearheads radiating from the centre is thought to be the gravestone of Eoghan Mór.

In the 1640s, when Maolmhuire an Bhata Bhui’s grandson briefly regained control of Doe, a large party of veteran Irish soldiers sailed from France into Doe to lead a Gaelic uprising.

Find a story about Doe Castle at the National Folklore Collection of Ireland


In 1905 a Gaelic Revival Festival was held at Doe led by Donegal piper Turlough McSweeney who also played at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Doe remained in private ownership until it was taken into government control in the 1930s.

Information panels situated around the castle give an astonishing insight into the rich history, stories about the people who lived there and its place in Irish history. Guided tours are available in the summer months. Relax and enjoy the surrounding landscapes with a coffee at the nearby coffee shop owned by a local family whom have close ties with Doe Castle over the years.


A wide selection of accommodation is available in the local area including:
The Wild Atlantic Camp and Arnolds Hotel and for anyone looking for a little more luxury with views from the hot tub over Marble Hill beach and far beyond this beautiful coastline The Shandon Hotel & Spa is sure to help you unwind and relax after your day’s adventure in this stunning destination.

Dining Options:

Popular places to eat in the area also include Rosie’s Bar, Arnolds Cafe & Gourmet Burger Bar, Hooked on the Boardwalk, The Singing Pub and The Olde Glen Bar where you might have a chance to meeting a regular customer who claims “It is the best pub in Ireland…Jamie Dornan”.

Continue along The Wild Atlantic Drive to Rosguil Peninsula and further afield to Fanad ensuring a visit to Fanad Lighthouse for spellbinding views of Donegal’s amazing panoramic coastline.

Beaches Close by:

Tramore beach in Downings, why not access the beach from The Boardwalk in Aughadahore near Carrigart and Glen village and walk the full length approximately 5km to Downings.

Turlough & Aileen - The Irish “Romeo & Juliet” - Stories from Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way​

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