County Donegal (pronounced or ; ) is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is in the province of Ulster. It is named after the town of Donegal (Dún na nGall) in the south of the county. Donegal County Council is the local authority for the county and Lifford serves as the county town. The population of the county was 161,137 according to the 2011 census. It has also been known as (County) Tyrconnell (Tír Chonaill), after the historic territory of the same name.
At various times in its history, it has been known as County Tirconaill, County Tirconnell or County Tyrconnell. The former was used as its official name during 1922–1927. This is in reference to both the old túath of Tír Chonaill and the earldom that succeeded it. Calling the whole county Tír Chonaill is technically incorrect as the Inishowen Peninsula is historically distinct from Tír Chonaill.
County Donegal is famous for being the home of the once mighty Clann Dálaigh, whose most famous branch were the Clann Ó Domhnaill, better known in English as the O'Donnell Clan. Until around 1600, the O'Donnells were one of Ireland's richest and most powerful Gaelic (native Irish) ruling-families. Within the Province of Ulster only the Clann Uí Néill (known in English as the O'Neill Clan) of modern County Tyrone were more powerful. The O'Donnells were Ulster's second most powerful clan or ruling-family from the early 13th-century through to the start of the 17th-century. For several centuries the O'Donnells ruled Tír Chonaill, a Gaelic kingdom in West Ulster that covered almost all of modern County Donegal. The head of the O'Donnell family had the titles An Ó Domhnaill (meaning The O'Donnell in English) and Rí Thír Chonaill (meaning King of Tír Chonaill in English). Based at Donegal Castle in Dún na nGall (modern Donegal Town), the O'Donnell Kings of Tír Chonaill were traditionally inaugurated at Doon Rock near Kilmacrenan. O'Donnell royal or chiefly power was finally ended in what was then the newly created County Donegal in September 1607, following the Flight of the Earls from near Rathmullan. The modern County Arms of Donegal (dating from the early 1970s) was influenced by the design of the old O'Donnell royal arms. The County Arms is the official coat of arms of both County Donegal and Donegal County Council.
County Donegal was one of the worst affected parts of Ulster during the Great Famine of the late 1840s in Ireland. Vast swathes of the county were devastated by this catastrophe, many areas becoming permanently depopulated. Vast numbers of County Donegal's people emigrated at this time, chiefly through Londonderry Port. Many of the county's people who emigrated settled in Glasgow in southern Scotland.
The Partition of Ireland in the early 1920s had a massive direct impact on County Donegal. Partition cut the county off, economically and administratively, from Derry, which had acted for centuries as the county's main port, transport hub and financial centre. Derry, together with west Tyrone, was henceforward in a new, different jurisdiction officially called Northern Ireland. Partition also meant that County Donegal was now almost entirely cut off from the rest of the jurisdiction in which it now found itself, the new dominion called the Irish Free State, which in April 1949 became the Republic of Ireland. Only a few miles of the county is physically connected by land to the rest of the Republic. The existence of a border cutting Donegal off from her natural hinterlands in Derry City and West Tyrone greatly exacerbated the economic difficulties of the county after partition. The county's economy is particularly susceptible, just like that of Derry City, to the currency fluctuations of the Euro against sterling.
Added to all this, in the late 20th century County Donegal was adversely affected by The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The county suffered several bombings and assassinations. In June 1987, Constable Samuel McClean, a Donegal man who was a serving member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, was shot dead by the Provisional Irish Republican Army at his family home near Drumkeen. In May 1991, the prominent Sinn Féin politician Councillor Eddie Fullerton was assassinated by the Ulster Defence Association at his home in Buncrana. This added further to the economic and social difficulties of the county. However, the greater economic and administrative integration following the Good Friday Agreement of April 1998 has been of benefit to the county.
It has been labelled the 'forgotten county' by its own politicians, owing to the perception that it is ignored by the Irish Government, even in times of crisis.
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article County Donegal. especially the section "Geography and political subdivisions" and its subsections "Baronies", "Informal districts" and "Demographics"