Situated in the heart of the mountains and valleys of County Donegal, Glenveagh National Park is one of Ireland’s 6 existing national parks. Renowned throughout the country for its wilderness and fantastic scenery, Glenveagh National Park is a great playground where you can drag your walking shoes until you get tired. Don’t forget to bring your camera – it’s the perfect place to capture some great views of Irish nature!
It all starts with one man: John George Adair, a wealthy Irish-Scottish landowner who, over the years (1857-1859), gradually acquired countless parcels of land in Donegal County. These wild lands were then for him a magnificent playground where he enjoyed hunting and walking. Charmed by the place, he decided in 1867 to build a castle in the very heart of his estate.
The construction was completed in 1873, and he decided to settle there with his wife Cornelia Wadsworth Ritchie, a wealthy American. They lived there peacefully until the death of John George Adair (in 1885). Following the death of her husband, Cornelia Wadsworth Ritchie decided to undertake numerous improvements to the castle and gardens, and then began to introduce many red deer to the estate to organise huge hunting parties.
In 1921, Cornelia Wadsworth Ritchie died, leaving the castle uninhabited until 1929, when it was bought by Arthur Kingsley Porter, a professor who came from Havard to study Irish culture and archaeology. However, this man mysteriously disappears 4 years later during a visit to Inishbofin Island.
The castle and its estate were then bought in 1937 by Henry McIlhenny, an Irish-American who wanted to rediscover his roots. He restored the castle, at the same time entering the rest of the estate and preserving its fauna and flora. In 1975 he sold the estate and the castle to the Irish State, which decided to open a national park in 1984 known as Glenveagh National Park.
As with any national park, entry to Glenveagh is free, and offers over 11,000 hectares of beautiful mountains, forests and lakes. The activities on offer are as diverse as they are varied, giving you the opportunity to enjoy a picnic in the middle of the Irish moorlands, or to walk a few of the walking routes so that you don’t miss a bit of the phenomenal scenery.
Surrounded by a large mountain range (the Derryveagh Mountains), Glenveagh Park is made up of a huge lake (Lough Veagh), which meanders between many meadows, marshes and deep forests. There is also a magnificent Irish-Scottish style castle within Glenveagh Park. The park, which can be visited in its entirety, has fabulous wooded gardens in a dream setting. It is the starting point for walks in Glenveagh Park and will lead you on your way to the heights of the park.