Glenveagh National Park - Letterkenny
Glenveagh National Park is the second largest national park in Ireland, it covers 170 square kilometres in the centre of the Derryveagh Mountains, in the north west of County Donegal. It is situated on a remote hillside above Glenveagh Castle on the shore of Lough Veagh. This park is located amongst breathtaking unspoilt countryside that comprises of, rugged mountains, pristine lakes, tumbling waterfalls, glens and native oak woodlands, and is home to the largest large herd of red deer in Ireland, in addition to many other interesting plants and animals. As a National Park it serves to conserve the natural landscape and wildlife for the enjoyment of its visitors now and for future generations.
There are nature trails and guided tours that vary in length and difficulty. Visitors can also join in Guided Family walks these take place every Sunday and Wednesday from April to October, they are taken by Park Rangers who will point out local wildlife, and plants you pass along the way.
The focal point of this park is the 19th century castle and its ornate gardens. It is a Scottish style castellated mansion constructed between 1867 and 1873, as a hunting lodge and was commissioned by John Adair. It comprises of a four storey rectangular keep, it has a luxurious interior, with original furniture and many fine pieces of art, each room has an individual theme. It is a wonderfully preserved stately home that provides a genuine insight into this era in history. Access to the castle is by guided tour only and they take about thirty minutes.
This fine Victorian castle is enclosed by probably the finest gardens in Ireland, they are imaginatively designed, and are home to an abundance of exotic plants, and a rich variety of rare and delicate plants. They cover ten acres and consist of formal and informal areas, the Walled Garden is a delight, as are the Italian Terrace and Tuscan Garden. The garden tour has eighteen numbered stops throughout and there is an accompanying guidebook that can be bought at the visitor centre. The best time of year to see and appreciate these gardens are in May/June and August when many of the plants and flowers are in bloom.
The Visitor Centre, can be found on the northern end of Lough Veagh. The architecture of this building blends in well with the surrounding landscape. There are numerous well laid out exhibits that provide an introduction to the park and illustrate the history of the park, there is an audio-visual presentation, entitled "Glenveagh", it lasts about 35 minutes, as well as details on walking trails, events and much more.
Glenveagh National Park is open throughout the year. Take time to call in to the Castle Tearooms where you can enjoy a delicious selection of snacks amongst its inviting atmosphere.