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This Ulster county is largely bog and mountain land and contains the towns of Letterkenny, Donegal, Ballyshannon, Lifford, Stranorlar, Killybegs, and Bundoran.
County Donegal was known as the Kingdom of Tirconnel in the old Irish administrative system. It was the territory of the powerful O'Donnell family. The other major family names were O'Boyle, O'Doherty, O'Friel, O'Sheil, MacWard, McLoughlin, McDunlevy, McGillespie, MacRearty, McGrath, McGonagle, O'Mulholland, O'Harkin, O'Derry, and O'Strahan. The McSweeneys, also a realtively common name in the county, were a gallowglass, or mercenary, family who arrived in the county in the thirteenth century.
The county wasn't effected much by the Norman invasion of the twelfth century and it wasn't until the later 16th century that England gained a foothold in the county. In 1592 they lost that when the O'Donnells, under their chief Red Hugh O'Donnell, joined with the O'Neills in a rebellino against the English. It ended in the defeat of the Ulster Chieftains in 1602 and the county was then included in the plantation of Ulster. The lands were confiscated and the native Irish owners were disinherited and their property given to English undertaker.
Among the names that became common were: Elliott, Campbell, Anderson, Baird, Thompson, McClintock, Hamilton, Browne, Barr, Stewart, Smith, Johnston, Irwin, Morrison, Young, and White.
In 1861 the census showed 75% Catholic, 11% Presbyterian (those of Scottish ancestry) and 13 percenter Episcopalian (those of English extraction).
The county was not badly affected in the Great Famine of 1845-47. The population fell from 296,000 in 1841 to 255,000 in 1851. Thousands emigrated to America, Australia and Canada.
County Town is Lifford
County Library, Letterkenny
Donegal Ancestry, Old Meeting House, Back Lane, Ramelton
Registrar General, North, St. Conal's Hospital, Letterkenny
Registrar General, South, St. Joseph's Hospital, Stranolar, Ballybofey
Mrs. K. Emerson, Co. Donegal Historical Society, Ballyshannon
Donegal Local Studies
Central Library and Arts Centre
Lower Main Street
Letterkenny, Co. Donegal
Donegal County Council
County Archive Centre
Lifford, Co. Donegal
Donegal Historical Society
c/o Mrs. Kathleen Emerson
61 Cluain Barron
Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal
Clogher Historical Society
Mr. J.I.D. Johnston
Corick, Clogher, Co. Tyrone
North of Ireland Family History society
Queens University of Belfast
Department of Education
69 University Street
Belfast BY7 1HL