Letterkenny is the largest and most populous town in County Donegal, Ireland. Its English name is derived from the Irish name Leitir Ceanainn, meaning "Hillside of the O'Cannons" – the O'Cannons being the last of the ancient chieftains of Tír Conaill. With a population of 19,588, Letterkenny is located on the River Swilly in east Donegal. Letterkenny, along with the nearby city of Derry, forms the major economic core of the north-west of the island of Ireland.
The modern urban centre of Letterkenny began as a market town at the start of the 17th century, during the Plantation of Ulster. An ancient castle once stood near where the Cathedral of St. Eunan and St. Columba, Donegal's only Roman Catholic cathedral, stands today. Letterkenny Castle, built in 1625, was located south of Mount Southwell on Castle Street. Donegal's premier third-level institution, the Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT), is located in the town, as are Saint Eunan's College, Highland Radio, and the only Hindu temple in the Republic of Ireland. Letterkenny is also the original home of Oatfield, the confectionery manufacturer, and is renowned for its night-life, with enterprises such as Club Voodoo, The Grill, Milan and The Pulse regularly attracting international names. The Aura Complex, near O'Donnell Park, includes an Olympic-standard swimming pool, the Danny McDaid Athletic Track and an arena capable of hosting top-level events.
History and economy