Donegal Then and Now

Zoom in on Donegal with a tour through Ireland's past

Donegal is Ireland most northerly county and yet remained in Ireland's republic after the island's division in 1921. The county's relative exclusion from the rest of the Republic has helped the people of Donegal maintain a cultural identity all of their own. In this piece we take a look at photographs of the people who have formed this identity and the places in which it took shape. Vintage photographs of Donegal - Zoom in and take a closer look.

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Main Street, Donegal (ca. 1930)

This image shows Main Street, Donegal on what seems like a quieter day by today's standards. A young man stands idly in a doorway in the righthand foreground while across the road a young girl appears to be looking after her younger sibling. The recent introduction of the motor car to Ireland seems to have eradicated the need for horses on it's main streets. Use the magnifier to get a closer look. Source: NLI

Quay Street, Donegal Town (ca. 1973)

A few minutes around the corner from Main Street and more than 40 years into the future we see Quay Street in 1973. Motor cars are populate the side of the road as far as the eye can see. This area of Quay Street today is awash with restaurants and quay side activities but in the 1970's, when these developments were only beginning, it looks a lot more tranquail. The one constant is the Donegal Parish Church steeple in the skyline, seen to the righthand side of the photograph. Source: NLI

Market Square, Donegal Town (ca. 1890)

This photo was captured by Joshua H. Hargrave an engineer with the Great Northern Railway and keen photographer. It shows his own scales, propped up in the market square in Donegal Town, used to aviod any disagreements which may have arisen from the weight guessing practises of old amongst merchants. The building with the arch is the old Market House and in keeping with tradition today The Market House Restaurant has taken it's place. If you use the Magnifying Glass you can make out someone peeping through the window on the top floor of the bakery to the left. Source: NLI

O'Donnell's Hotel, Burtonport, Co.Donegal (ca.1910)

This photograph was taken circa 1910. A time when clearly the motor car was still a novelty on the streets of Donegal. The camera must also have been somewhat of a novelty judging by the amount of people staring into the lens (including the old woman hanging out the window above the car). Source: NLI

Gweedore, Co. Donegal (ca. 1884)

A very posed photograph for it's time. The proprietor of the bar, Daniel Ferry, is seen to the right, feeding the horse. His wife Nellie is serving a drink to the gentleman on the jaunting car while their daughter Biddie watches on. The sign reads "Licenced for the sale of spirits and beer for consumption on the premises". Nellie seems to be ignoring the sign. The property no longer exists but it is an interesting insight into life at the time.

Gweedore, Co. Donegal