History of Donegal
Motto: Mutuam habeatis caritatem
“Mutual respect and love for one another”
County Donegal is often referred to as the “O’Donnell County” on account of its historic ties with the famous Chieftain family/Clan.
County Donegal is most 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. The modern County Arms of Donegal is influenced greatly by the design of the old Clan O’Donnell royal arms.
Until around 1600 A.D. the O’Donnell’s were one of Ireland’s richest and most powerful Gaelic 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’Donnell’s were Ulster’s second most powerful clan/ruling-family from the early 13th century through to the start of the 17th century. For several centuries the O’Donnell’s ruled Tír Chonaill, the then 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. The O’Donnell Clan’s rule was ended in 1607 what is historically known as the Flight of the Earls which took place from near the modern town of Rathmullan in County Donegal.
The modern County Arms of Donegal is influenced greatly by the design of the old Clan O’Donnell royal arms.